Business travellers increasingly go online to book flights

Technology is becoming a larger part of business travelers’ experience, according to results of a recent Accenture survey. 
The semi-annual survey found that more than half (58 percent) of the more than 400 business travellers queried said they book trips online, up from 52 percent in the 2004 survey and 47 percent in 2003.  Additionally, more than three-quarters (78 percent) use the Internet to research flight times and availability.  Similarly, 72 percent of respondents research hotel vacancies online, while 65 percent reserve rooms electronically.  The number of business travellers checking in for flights online, however, remains constant. Just 20 percent of respondents in the latest survey report checking in online while 21 percent reported doing so in the 2004 survey.

Use of technology continues at the airport, where some four in ten (39 percent) business travellers report they use self-service kiosks to check in and get boarding passes.  When these respondents were asked why they prefer kiosks, 66 percent said it is more convenient than working with a live agent. 

“Consumers today go online to arrange travel the same way they do to bank, shop and chat with friends,” said Alex Cruz, partner in Accenture’s Transportation & Travel Services practice.  “The smartest companies in the travel industry will make meeting their customers’ demands for online services a top priority not only to satisfy their guests but to help cut operating costs and improve efficiency.”

In terms of business travellers’ experiences in hotels, 58 percent said their preferred hotel does not recognise them as frequent customers, 15 percent reported their preferred hotel recognises them but does not offer special services and 17 percent said their preferred hotel recognises them and some of their basic preferences.

“Hotels need to tap into their customer information and use it to gain insight into guest preferences and trends as well as ways to create strong loyalty among their most profitable customers, which oftentimes is the business traveller,” said Cruz.

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As Accenture’s previous surveys have shown, cost is almost always a concern for respondents, and nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of respondents in the most recent survey expect their use of low-cost air carriers to remain the same or increase in the next six months.  More than three-quarters (76 percent) said they would increase their usage of these carriers if there were more flights into main airports.  Almost half (49 percent) reported having used major carriers, compared to 54 percent in the previous survey in February. 
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