Before the COVID-19 pandemic sent the travel world into chaos and uncertainty, loyalty programs centered on miles traveled, ticket class, number of hotel stays, and the like to earn status and rewards. Really, it was all about the act of travel…one needed to fly, stay, or drive to earn status with preferred brands. In turn for their brand loyalty, travelers reaped free upgrades and other perks that made business travel all the more enjoyable. After all, surveys show that frequent business travelers consider reward program status a benefit to spending so much time on the road. So how will loyalty programs adapt to changing traveler demands and decreased travel levels? And how can companies ensure their travelers are happy, their programs are optimized, and their contracts are favorable? Read below to find out more.
The structure of loyalty programs is based on pre-pandemic behaviors, which are, at least temporarily, no longer the norm. The business travel landscape of today is very different from just a year and a half ago. Many companies still have travel paused, are only traveling by car, or are only permitting the most essential of business trips. However, vaccines worldwide are ramping up and many countries are loosening entry restrictions, leading to promising upticks in business travel. While the dust settles in the aftermath of the pandemic, corporate travel programs are being restructured, revamped, and rethought. Loyalty programs will be pushed to change and providers will work to understand and harness post-pandemic loyalty.
Winning Back the Business Traveler
In a sea of new options, emerging trends, and increased negotiating power for organizations, airlines, hotels, and car rental providers are evolving to keep clients and travelers happy while building continued program loyalty. Business travel is important to airlines, hotels, and car rental companies and loyalty programs will focus on winning back the business traveler (a valuable asset in rebuilding operations and revenue in 2021 and beyond).
Companies are poised to benefit from interesting opportunities to renegotiate contract commitments and maximize their program’s potential. For example, a recent survey of SAP Concur customers within the Aerospace, Defense, and Government Contracting space noted that only 31% incorporated ground loyalty programs and 49% incorporated frequent flyer programs into their T&E policies. It’s a missed opportunity if companies aren’t incorporating parameters for loyalty programs in their travel policies; it will only increase the experience for employees who are eager to use their points.
It’s important to note that booking through your travel management company still provides the traveler with all the points, perks, miles, and status associated with the brand’s loyalty program while ensuring the organization maximizes travel spend and understands program data.
What to Expect as We Move Toward Recovery
- Decreased contractual volume commitments
- More value in non-flight based activities (branded credit card spending, etc.)
- Increased negotiating power and greater leverage as brands work to gain business travel
- Shift to accommodate the desires of business travelers in 2021 and beyond
- More investment in innovative, digital features and services that business travelers want
The Time to Renegotiate Is Now
Now more than ever, brands are looking to encourage travel, boost business relationships, and accommodate corporate clients. It’s time to take a deep dive into your program contracts and ensure your program is optimized for the current travel landscape (and needs of your travelers).
ADTRAV and SAP Concur are working with clients and their preferred brands to renegotiate and meet the demands of business travel today. If your corporate travel program is in need of industry experts to lead and manage with a consultative and collaborative approach, ADTRAV and SAP Concur can help.
ADTRAV provides travel management solutions for corporate, government, and non-profit (NGO) travel. Through innovative technology, custom solutions, and thorough data reporting, we deliver increased efficiency and savings to our clients. To learn more about ADTRAV Travel Management and how we can help optimize your program, visit adtrav.com.