Should we give incentives to business travellers?

There was an abundance of new products and announcements at the recent Business Travel Show in London. For Traveldoo, this is an unmissable event and a great opportunity to meet our customers and partners as well as to provide valuable insight into the changes within the industry. During the show there was also a comprehensive conference and seminar programme covering a variety of topics, including some of the well-known industry issues such as the NDC revolution and the implementation of GDPR standards.

Another popular and recurring topic questions the balance between costs and savings and poses the question: “Should business travellers be compensated or rewarded when they save money for their company? “.

Bonuses for business travellers have been around for a long time, with miles earned for air travel, vouchers and global travel packages. Should the traveller be allowed to keep these miles as a “perk” or should companies recoup the airmiles earned on the basis that the trip has been paid for by the company? Some would argue that the miles belong to the company and should be used to fund other trips at a lower cost, thus contributing to an overall reduction in the travel budget.

Others see it differently. For example, if the traveller finds a hotel room cheaper than the company allowance, he or she may then be authorised to spend more on meals. This is putting the onus back on the traveller, empowering them to spend their budget how they wish.

Some of the more innovative, creative agencies believe that companies can go further and make greater savings by rewarding thrifty business travellers with company money. For example, if the budget earmarked for the hotel room is not fully spent, the company can reward the traveller with a percentage of the money saved. These companies could save up to 25%on the cost of a trip while having better insight into where savings can be made.

However, not everyone would agree.

By incentivising travellers to save money on their business in this way, are you putting them in danger? The chances are that they are either cutting corners or the travel policy is incorrect in the first place. Many in the industry believe it’s the travel manager or procurement managers responsibility, not the travellers, to improve their company’s travel policy or to save money.

First, it may create inequality and divisions between employees, who would no longer all be treated in the same way. Plus, it could put the business traveller in danger. Indeed, in order to reduce the cost of their hotel room, they could be tempted to book a cheaper hotel which is located in a dangerous area, or too far from where they need to be. They may not be able to relax or get enough sleep by choosing an economy class flight rather than business class, and so on. Ultimately, this incentive policy could portray a bad image of the company by encouraging its employees to save money rather than arrive at a destination fit and able to their job to the best of the ability.

Therefore, a well thought-out and implemented travel policy continues to be the key element for cost savings. According to BCD Travel, companies would save 15% if they applied their travel policy, with half of hotel reservations being made outside the policy.

Each company is different and it is up to the travel managers to define clear rules around the travel policy which fit with the company ethos and culture.
It is in every company’s interest to improve communication regarding their travel policy so that it is better understood, applied and beneficial to all.

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