While there are legitimate reasons why business travellers continue to book outside of their company travel policy, a recent survey revealed that 85% of Singapore's business travellers, earning personal loyalty points and rewards was cited as a 'good reason' to do so.
According to the new survey by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), the loyalty perks prioritised by business travellers were business lounge access (85%), flying on preferred airlines not within current policy (83%) and staying in a safer location (91%).
Unsurprisingly, the survey revealed that the top reasons for booking out of policy were staying closer to a meeting or business event venue (95%) and staying in a more convenient location (95%).
Sanghamitra Bose, GBT's general manager, Singapore, said companies need to ensure their travel policies are continually appropriate for their business.
"Singapore's business travellers reported several reasons for why they wish to book outside of company rules, and while some reasons have legitimate substance, others could be considered questionable," Bose said.
"There are instances where booking outside of policy can be easily justified, such as for safety reasons or staying closer to a meeting or business event venue. However, eighty-one percent of Singapore's business travellers believe booking outside policy to stay at other hotels they prefer is a good reason, and that may be harder to defend."
"To increase travel policy compliance, businesses need to ensure their travel policies include the most suitable airlines and hotels. Automated travel approval technology tools are also useful in assisting employees to make the right travel choices."
Interestingly, 90% of Singapore's 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 that information is tracked, and provides the data that companies use to negotiate favourable contracts with airlines and hotels" said Bose. "While travellers might think they're doing their company a favour by booking something which appears cheaper, this can actually cost a company money when they next review their supplier contracts."
The survey also revealed Singapore's businesses are more likely to find themselves saving money on their travel expenditure through incentivising staff. A mere 7% of Singapore's business travellers stated that they do not require any incentives to book within their existing company policy, among the lowest of the countries polled.
Receiving bonus days off (58%), internal company points systems that can go towards rewards or future travel (56%), and personally earning a percentage of the money saved (51%), were the top three options that Singapore's business traveller believed would increase their likelihood of booking within policy.
"Our research indicates that Singapore's business travellers will respond well to incentivisation in order to book within travel policy. When we consider the fact that seventy-nine percent of Singapore's travellers reported not booking within policy all of the time - the most of the six countries surveyed - there could be significant savings potential," said Bose.
In addition to incentives, clear and regular communication of company travel policies can also assist in policy adherence, with 51 percent of Singapore's business travellers believing their company does not have clear policies relating to business travel and expense reporting.