Travel buyers have more success negotiating amenities into hotel and ground transportation contracts than airline contracts

A new GBTA Foundation survey found when it comes to airline contracts, the add-ons and amenities most valued by companies are often not included in the final contract. The report, Valuable Vendor Contract Add-ons: Prioritizing + Communicating = Saving, surveyed over 100 travel buyers across North America and is sponsored by Amadeus.

When considering which airline add-ons to negotiate into contracts, travel buyers most commonly report eliminating fees for cancelled or changed itineraries (99 per cent), receiving name change waivers for tickets and ticket credits (97 per cent) and removing checked-bag fees (91 per cent) as valuable. However, these valued add-ons frequently don’t make it into the final contract. These three are “always” or “often” included 25 per cent, 61 per cent and 15 per cent of the time, respectively.

For hotel contracts, the most valuable add-ons for travel managers and their companies include free Wi-Fi (99 per cent), last room availability (97 per cent) and free breakfast (96 per cent). The final contracts more often than not contain these valued add-ons (89 per cent, 82 per cent and 82 per cent, respectively).

Similarly, ground transportation contracts frequently incorporate the add-ons travel buyers value as bringing the greatest savings to their company, including expedited rentals (94 per cent), vehicle-class upgrades (88 per cent) and vehicle choice (82 per cent). These “always” or “often” appear in the final contract 80 per cent, 70 per cent and 69 per cent of the time, respectively.

Travel buyers have more success negotiating amenities into hotel and ground transportation contracts than airline contracts“Companies may see cost savings if the amenities and add-ons identified as valuable are more often negotiated into the final contract, particularly when it comes to airlines,” said Kate Vasiloff, GBTA director of research. “The study also reveals that while travel buyers appear confident in their efforts to successfully communicate travel policies and negotiated add-ons with their employees, very few companies collect data to support this. Collecting data around compliance rates presents a huge opportunity for companies to identify areas where communication efforts can be improved and money can be saved.”

“While cost savings is generally the driver for contract add-on services and amenities, improving the traveller’s experience throughout the journey is also critical in maintaining employee productivity and satisfaction,” said Jay Richmond, Head of Amadeus North America’s Business Travel Group. “Negotiating the right amenities aligned to particular traveller needs and evolving them as those needs change is a great way for travel managers to continue delivering value to their organizations.”

Communicating with business travellers

Two-thirds of travel buyers (67 per cent) feel they successfully communicate negotiated travel add-ons to their travellers. Among that group, the most prevalent methods of relaying the information is updating the employee handbook once a year (52 per cent), sending quarterly emails (36 per cent) and holding meetings with travellers on an annual basis (31 per cent).

While few companies track whether or not travellers pay for add-ons or services already factored into the negotiated rate (17 per cent), travel buyers feel the majority of travellers are not incorrectly paying for already-included add-ons. They estimate only about one out of every five trips involving a hotel stay include an erroneous expense (19 per cent), compared to 15 per cent involving ground transportation and even fewer involving airlines (8 per cent).

Methodology

This study is based on an online survey of 103 travel buyers or travel managers based in North America conducted December 3-14, 2015.

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