Despite advancements in conferencing technology, 51 percent of small-business travelers say the frequency of their travel has increased over the past five years, according to a poll by Expedia. The online travel agency noted that the average small-business traveler takes eight business trips per year and stays 17 nights annually in hotels, spending an average of $987 on a round-trip flight and $288 nightly for a hotel.
Acting on that data, Expedia has jumped on what it sees as an opportunity: to provide the same travel-volume clout to small operators that large corporations enjoy. Thus the launch of Expedia+, a loyalty program for small-business owners.
When employees enroll (for free), they are upgraded to Expedia’s silver membership tier, which offers upgrades and freebie amenities at more than 1,400 participating hotels. For every 10 overnight stays at qualifying hotels, the company earns a $100 hotel coupon to be used on a future stay or given as a gift to employees for leisure travel. Addressing the common lack of a travel department in small businesses, the service features an online dashboard that tracks expenses and maps all company travel.
Rather than encouraging loyalty to one hotel brand, the program incentivizes travelers to book at a range of hotels via the online travel agency. Explains Expedia’s Sarah Gavin: “You don’t want to have to say ‘My employees have to stay at a Marriott’ if it’s 15 minutes from the meeting when a Hilton is next door.”