Do you know where your employees are sleeping?
A robust travel policy is a business’s friend. On a regular weeknight in any given city, you can set a ceiling price for a hotel stay and be confident that your employees will find somewhere decent to stay. More seasoned leaders might even recognise that destinations like Geneva, Paris and London call for a slightly higher budget to put quality digs in your team’s reach.
But is your policy fully insulated against reality? Here you'll find out why having negotiated hotel pricing is vital for your employees wellbeing in big cities.
Policy, meet reality
The cost of hotel lodging is governed by algorithms, where high demand can push prices up aggressively fast. If Taylor Swift is playing nearby, or the Champion’s League is in town, it’s not unusual to see rates multiply several times. And with 80% of corporate trips booked in the two weeks before departure, you and your employees will often be booking long after the best prices are sold out.
So what happens then? If your employees still need to travel, our experience shows there are two likely outcomes, and neither is good for business. In a minority of cases, you’ll end up with an expensive surprise: an exception request. And in the majority of cases, we find that employees will quietly accept dramatically inferior lodging to avoid scrutiny, or being perceived as a complainer.
Most employees want to avoid making a fuss. So when the travel budget you’ve set doesn’t stretch far enough, they might fear the trip will be cancelled, or worry about being seen as wasteful. The safe, comfortable three or four star business hotel goes out the window, and sketchier options enter the frame.
In our conversations, we’ve heard all sorts of stories. On the more acceptable end, corporate travellers have ended up in properties that fall short amenities-wise. Slow wifi, dirty or poorly maintained rooms, or badly-insulated rooms that are loud or uncomfortably hot or cold. Rest, comfort and productivity are compromised.
More serious concerns include workers feeling forced to turn to rooms in hostels, or downright dangerous parts of town.
Unquestionably most worrying is the situation employees from backgrounds underrepresented in corporate travel can find themselves in. Women, people from ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ employees can be the least likely to flag that prices are high - and therefore the most likely to find themselves checking in to inadequate or even unsafe accommodation in neighbourhoods that are best avoided. How do your DEI efforts connect to your travel policy?
Every outcome has costs
Your rules are probably leading to some employees taking risks and others overspending regardless. So is your travel policy doing much good at times when demand is high in a given destination? We’ll let you answer that question, but there is a way to put an end to all of this danger and discomfort. And you should do it now, before it becomes a problem.
How? Well, the very smartest travel policies focus not on setting a maximum hotel price, but on directing employees to specific properties. By agreeing with a hotel that they will be your company’s preferred place to stay in a particular city - and guaranteeing them a steady stream of business - you can negotiate exclusive, predictable rates.
With negotiated rates, you’ll enjoy the same rate regardless of when you book. You have one property to point your employees too, so they can always be confident they’re making the right decision. And you can ensure the hotels on the list the kinds of places you’re comfortable expecting your people to stay.
Of course, securing these rates in cities one-by-one can be a long process, and take a lot of resources away from a business. That’s where Impala can help: we can secure rates in all the key locations you do business, to give you substantially more predictability and peace of mind. We can advise on which properties are the right fit. And we can do it all at no cost to you.