Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Mon March 14 2016

Airlines Love To Say No According To Recent Study

Business Travel | Gabe Zaldivar | March 14, 2016

Airlines Love To Say No According To Recent Study

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Normally suppliers are in the habit of wooing traveler managers. According to a recent study, however, airlines are far more likely to play hard to get.

This is the latest from Global Business Travel Association, which polled 103 North American travel buyers to see how they manage to procure benefits and perks for its clients.

Via a press release (h/t the study finds that buyers will have far more luck in garnering a few extra amentities from the realm of hotel and ground transportation than they ever will from the misers running the airline supplier industry.

In many cases, managers and buyers came away with a 25 percent success rate in their respective requests.

First, there is plenty of good news when it comes to getting those requests granted when dealing with the hotel and rental car industry.

As you might expect, the biggest perk on the list for those buying up hotel rooms is free Wi-Fi. Seemingly, this is the kind of amenity that would make or break a negotiation.

Corporate travelers have come to expect abundant and often free or very cheap access to the Internet. The hotel industry seems to understand that expectation and has granted wishes in kind.

The press release reports a whopping 89 percent of respondents had their request for free Wi-Fi granted, followed by a success rate of 82 percent for both last-room availability and free breakfasts requests.

Hotels work from the idea that it’s far more important to get travelers in the doors than it is to milk fees in various benefits.

Expectations vary widely when you consider the airline industry, which has somehow created a commercial assumption from managers and travelers at large.

We simply expect to have to pay for the little minutiae that would otherwise go a long way to make us all happy.

The press release drops this bombshell: “When considering which airline add-ons to negotiate into contracts, travel buyers most commonly report eliminating fees for cancelled or changed itineraries (99 percent), receiving name change waivers for tickets and ticket credits (97 percent) and removing checked-bag fees (91 percent) as valuable. However, these valued add-ons frequently don’t make it into the final contract. These three are 'always' or 'often' included 25 percent, 61 percent and 15 percent of the time, respectively.”

Nearly every single respondent answered in kind, stating that the only thing they crave in a contract is a little latitude. The airlines understand that there is simply only one way to fly. So until we get our flying cars or decide a 20-hour road trip is feasible, dealing with small victories will have to suffice.

As travel managers attempt to predict the obvious travel hiccups, they continue to work in stipulations that might help switching out colleagues who are hopping from city to city.

Sadly, there is little wiggle room in that regard as you see from the above, which illustrates how changed itineraries and waivers often fail to make the cut into negotiations.

Thankfully, things are better in the ground transportation arena, which garnered a 69 percent success rate or higher for respondents.

But it’s not like this should come as a shock to anyone. The expectations are there from a private to corporate level.

Airlines have managed to create a rather safe level of expectations, which means it has the ability to take your requests but kindly pass on them.

It’s not like you are going to sprout wings anytime soon anyway.


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