Indian business travellers prefer booking outside of company policy: American Express Global...

Indian business travellers prefer booking outside of company policy: American Express Global Business Travel Survey


Receiving a percentage of money saved by the company is the top reason Indian employees would be incentivised to book within policy

92% of Indian business travellers believe earning personal loyalty points or rewards is a good reason to book outside of company policy, according to a new survey commissioned by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT).

With airlines and hotels offering a range of personal incentives for continued loyalty, it appears that personal rewards provide sufficient justification for some employees to ignore standard company policies. While a large majority of business travellers from India acknowledge the value of travelling for work, and are aware their company has a travel policy, many are reluctant to comply with company travel policies citing issues including wanting business lounge access (93%), using preferred airlines not within current policy (88%) and desire to stay in a safer location (94%).

Desiring accommodation closer to a meeting or business event venue (96%), staying in a more convenient location (96%), and staying in a better quality hotel (96%) were the top reasons Indian business travellers provided as a rationale for booking outside the company travel policy.

Ashish Kishore, GBT’s Managing Director, India, said companies need to regularly review their travel policies and ensure they are fit for purpose.

“There are many reasons why Indian business travellers consider it appropriate to book business travel outside of company policy, and while some are practical, some would be considered insufficient by most companies,” Ashish said.

“Most employers would happily accept safety reasons or practical business reasons such as staying closer to a meeting business event venue as justification for booking outside policy. However, ninety-six percent of Indian business travellers believe wishing to stay in a better quality hotel is a good reason for booking outside policy, and it is unlikely that excuse would pass scrutiny.”

“Businesses can set themselves up for success by ensuring their travel policies cover the most suitable airlines and hotels. Offering a wide variety of appropriate options will help encourage employees to book within policy while also enjoying luxury of choice. Automated travel approval technology can also make it easier for travellers to make the right decisions.”

Interestingly, 92% of Indian business travellers also considered saving their company money to be a good reason for booking outside of policy, however such practices do not always result in true savings.

“When employees book within travel policy it not only helps companies keep track of their staff and fulfil their duty of care obligations, it also provides valuable data which companies use to negotiate good deals with airlines and hotels,” said Ashish.

What’s in it for me?

The survey also revealed Indian businesses are more likely to find themselves saving money on their travel expenditure through incentivising staff. A mere 3% of Indian business travellers stated that they do not require any incentives to book within their existing company policy, the lowest result of the six countries polled.

Personally earning a percentage of the money saved (61%), receiving bonus days off (60%), and internal company points systems that can go towards rewards or future travel (56%), were the top three options that Indian business traveller believed would increase their likelihood of booking within policy.

Curiously, India was the only country surveyed where business travellers reported being more likely to adhere to company travel policy when the policy was relaxed rather than strictly enforced.

“Our research indicates that Indian employees prefer greater autonomy and flexibility when arranging their travel, and that companies may benefit from embracing this. If Indian companies combine this with some perks for sticking within travel policy, they’re likely to see a considerable increase in how many people obey company rules,” said Ashish.

In addition to incentives, clear and regular communication of company travel policies can also assist in policy adherence, with 53 percent of Indian business travellers believing their company does not have clear policies relating to business travel and expense reporting.

About the survey

The survey was commissioned by American Express Global Business Travel and conducted by GfK. Almost 2,000 business travellers living in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore, and India were surveyed between November 17 – December 6, 2017. For the purposes of this study, business travellers are defined as those who have spent at least the equivalent of 5 days in the past 12 months travelling for business that included an overnight stay.