by Alex Palmer | July 14, 2015
While the impact of loyalty programs for individual travelers has been well established, a new study reflects the broad significance such programs also have on corporate travel decisions. According to new research from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Foundation and sponsored by Hilton Worldwide, 66 percent of corporate travel managers say that hotel loyalty programs play at least a "slightly important" role in their negotiations with hotels, while one in five state that they play a "very important" or "extremely important" role.

The study, which draws on the responses of more than 200 corporate travel managers, found that these loyalty programs help companies achieve compliance in their corporate travel. About one-third of respondents said that they actively inform travelers of the loyalty programs.

"Most loyalty programs reward individual travelers for staying at hotel chains, but these programs can also align with the goals of corporate travel programs to promote compliance, improve traveler satisfaction and extract value from hotel stays," said Joseph Bates, GBTA Foundation vice president of research, in a statement. "While the primary goal of loyalty programs is to incentivize travelers to be brand loyal, continued partnerships with travel managers should prevail."

More than three quarters (78 percent) of respondents said workers were allowed to use individual hotel loyalty accounts when traveling for business purposes, and to keep the points and rewards earned for personal use. Seventy-two percent of respondents said they were "somewhat interested" or "very interested" in allowing travelers to join loyalty programs on this individual basis in order to allow them to accrue more points, incentivizing them to book through the company's preferred channel.

But 77 percent of corporate travel managers said they were "somewhat interested" or "very interested" in a program that also awarded organizations with discounts and other rewards.

The complete findings of the study will be presented at the GBTA Convention on July 27 in Orlando, at an education session titled "New Trends in Hotel Loyalty Programs: What Works for Travel Managers and What Doesn't."