has revealed that European users of the system booked a record 36,000 trips in July this year. It has also challenged competitors to disclose their own figures.Until now industry commentators had to be content with analysing in percentage terms the growth in European usage of corporate self-booking tools (SBTs). But this provided no insight to the actual size of the region’s self-booking market.
“I could tell you we saw year-on-year booking increases in Europe of 104 percent in Q1 this year, and 138 percent in Q2,” said Floyd Widener, vice president of GetThere and corporate travel at Sabre Travel Network. “But GetThere has been seeing triple-digit, year-on-year percentage growth in Europe for so many quarters now that it no longer means anything to industry-watchers.
“It’s time to start putting out some hard numbers to help procurement managers, travel managers and travel management companies assess the real growth and potential of these systems.”
Widener believes GetThere is the leading SBT in Europe, but says he’ll have to wait for competitors to publish figures before being able to prove it.
“In the absence of other industry figures it’s hard to benchmark our performance, but from what we’ve managed to glean we believe GetThere is the most widely-used system in the region, bar none. If anyone else wants that title they’ll have to publish better like-for-like figures.”
These would be independent, revenue-generating business trips, originating directly from corporations or from a white-label version of the system marketed by a re-seller.
They would exclude non-revenue transactions, trips processed by the SBT but originating from airline websites, partners or shareholders, and all leisure travel.
“We believe these criteria represent a common denominator and would help give the industry an accurate idea of the real volume of European self-booked business travel,” Widener said. “They would also provide a benchmark for future market growth and penetration.”
He said the European booking numbers were small in comparison to global figures (GetThere is processing well over a million bookings a month globally), but that growth in the region was both sustained and dramatic.
“Two years ago we were delighted when our monthly trip numbers for the region reached 6,000. If we can sustain this kind of growth we’ll be approaching the booking levels of more mature SBT markets very soon.”
Widener said full disclosure of relevant European trip numbers by all SBTs was in the interests of the travel management sector as a whole.
“SBTs have come of age in Europe and it’s time to stop being coy about numbers,” he said. “Our customers know what they’re booking, as do their travel management companies, but it’s time other companies out there see that these systems are being embraced and are making an impact.”