Could the new Rest Assured Solutions suite from American Express Global Business Travel help solve the age-old problem of off-policy booking?

It is normally well-intended traveller behaviour, but off-policy travel bookings remains one of the biggest frustrations for travel managers. Now, American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) believes it has found the answer with its Rest Assured Solutions total accommodations suite, which it says gives travellers and travel managers confidence that their programme has the best tools, content and rates, all in one place.

This enhanced suite of products and services was introduced at this week’s Business Travel Show in London, and will certainly help travel managers and decision-makers reduce off-policy bookings that stem from well-intended traveller behaviour and booking decisions. It’s development is based around insight that highlights that corporate travellers want an accommodation booking service which makes following company policy an easier, clearer process.

Most of us like to be in control of our travel and will move off-policy when we believe we are saving company money, or when policy guidelines aren’t offering them the kind of accommodation or the location required. Amex GBT Rest Assured Solutions has been developed as a means to ensure that travellers are able to access accommodation for the best prices, in the best locations, with the best facilities, without booking off-policy.

The suite has been under development since Amex GBT’s acquisition of Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) in 2018, to fully integrate the company’s accommodations solutions, align them with GBT’s traveller-centric service approach, and address the challenges facing travel managers and their business travellers.

“Travellers want to do the right thing for their companies, and the research shows there is an opportunity to redirect the good intentions of out-of-policy bookers by proactively addressing common misconceptions about getting a better price, choice or experience elsewhere,” explains Wes Bergstrom, Amex GBT’s vice president, hotel strategy.

Education and communication is needed to understand what is included in negotiated rates, such as Wi-Fi, parking, breakfast or resort fees, when compared to booking outside the preferred channel. Driving compliance is key to better data visibility, security, savings – in short, a more effective and centralised travel programme,” he adds.

Amex GBT believes that is what it is delivering with Rest Assured Solutions, the fudamentals of which have been born to support the findings of its new Hotel Traveller 360° research, which explores what drives business travellers’ hotel booking behaviours.

The Nov-2019 survey of over 2,000 business travellers who in the previous 12 months had spent at least five days travelling on business trips, and stayed overnight on at least one of those trips, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, highlighted the importance among travellers of choice, cost, location and amenities in booking decisions.

The research found that almost three quarters (73%) of global business travellers indicated that saving money was an acceptable reason to book outside of their company’s business travel policy, while more than two in three (68%) cited better hotel choices.

Amex GBT is reacting to this by ensuring the Rest Assured Solutions suite provides access to exclusive hotel rates through its Preferred Extras hotel programme with discounts of up to 25% and the availability of specially negotiated amenities and extras such as favourable cancellation policies, last room availability, and free Wi-Fi and breakfast.

A new Hotel Rate Guarantee will ensure travellers are getting the lowest hotel rate at the time of booking and offers a rebook function at a lower rate if one is found, automatically delivering a refund of the difference. Amex GBT says this guarantee is supported by its Hotel Assurance and Hotel Re-Shop Expert tools, which use automation and bots to monitor and rebook more affordable rates if they become available. It claims to meet or beat online hotel rates 97% of the time!

The Hotel Traveller 360° research also highlights that access to the right hotel content is also a concern for business travellers: on average, two in three (68%) global business travellers cited location as a good reason to book out of policy. There is also a general lack of confidence in corporate programmes: more than half (57%) believe they can find better rates for overnight accommodations than their company’s travel programmes.

Amex GBT believes Rest Assured Solutions’ access to an extensive portfolio of properties, including more than six million non-hotel listings, such as homes, apartments, and fully-furnished corporate apartment units, plus advanced algorithms and historical booking data that can proactively offer more personalised hotel recommendations will help overcome these concerns.

If this new Amex GBT solution can reduce the problems related to off-policy bookings then it will certainly be applauded by travel managers. With new innovations also planned to be added to Rest Assured Solutions throughout 2020, it could become a powerful tool to finally put an end to off-policy bookings.

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