What is the price of personalisation?

Personalisation is one of the current buzzwords in the corporate travel industry, with many surveys and reports indicating a growing expectation that corporate travel agents address and cater for individual traveller preferences. But how does this tie in with agents’ mandate to book within policy and keep costs from spiralling out of control?

Personalisation is a balancing act between choice and control, says Monique Swart of Abta. “Giving more freedom to travellers to make their own choices will reduce traveller friction, but at the same time could open Pandora’s Box with regard to tracking the travellers from a safety perspective, and tracking spend.”


Choice is key

Monique says: “For me, the key is to be more strategic within their choice architecture; making sure travellers have more options than usual, but still ensuring that those options are trackable. A good place to start would be identifying where travellers could maybe have more choices that are less impactful on the policy and budget, and where the policy is non-negotiable. By having some freedom to move, travellers will be more respectful of areas that are non-negotiable.”

Indeed, research has shown that personalisation can actually play a key role in managing costs and motivating travellers to book through traditional channels and stay within policy.

A study, Managing the Modern Business Traveller, conducted by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (Acte) and underwritten by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) showed that taking a more traveller-considerate approach could improve compliance levels, which in turn helps contain costs and provides better leverage when it comes to negotiating preferred rates with suppliers.

Greeley Koch, executive director of Acte, says: “Business travellers now expect a personalised experience, but many organisations still take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to travel policy, driving travellers to work outside the normal channels.” He adds that considering the traveller’s point of view is likely to encourage them “to do the right thing”.

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