Airlines have been slow to develop applications and other technologies to market directly to the travellers of their corporate customers. But the situation is changing rapidly.
In the coming months, expect a flood of direct promotions, in the same vein as those already launched by major hotel chains, warns business travel consultant Advito in its 2017 Industry Forecast. Delta Air Lines has already launched this strategy with the launch of its mobile application and loyalty program. Advito advises travel managers to be vigilant.
When airlines go directly to business travellers, it can directly threaten their business customers, that is, those who buy tickets from travellers. Here are Advito’s five tips for travel buyers to counter the negative consequences of direct marketing on their programs:
- Monitor closely the direct marketing efforts of airlines. Find out if your employees are being targeted for promotions that could encourage them to leave the company’s travel policy.
- Negotiate against the current. Ask your preferred carriers to offer your travellers the same or even greater benefits under your program than they offer directly to travellers. Lobby for benefits such as Elite status equivalencies, free checked baggage or early check-in.
- Give travellers the right tools. Encourage travellers to adopt enterprise applications such as BCD Travel’s TripSource. This will give them more options than with a given supplier’s application, while respecting their company’s travel policy.
- Do not deviate from your travel policy. Think twice before allowing your travellers to book directly with airlines. You could compromise your ability to negotiate preferential terms; pay more for your airline tickets; and breach your duty of care to employees while travelling.
- Dialogue with travellers. Encourage them to respect your program through incentives and ongoing communication of traveller engagement that explains the interest, both for them and for the company, to book under the program.