American business travelers continue to use the Internet to book travel, yet many of them still use ‘offline’ services when making itinerary changes, according to findings from a new survey of American business travelers with online access. The survey was commissioned by Travelport Corporate Solutions. Conducted by Harris Interactive, the survey found that although more than half (52%) of American business travelers book their business travel online, one-third (33%) still use ‘offline’ channels such as traditional travel agents to make or amend their business travel reservations.
While the number of companies offering online self-booking as part of their corporate travel programs continues to grow, many employees are not taking advantage of the more efficient, less expensive online tools. In the survey, Travelport measured American business traveler opinion of booking options and examined the reasons travelers choose more expensive offline services. Results point to the options valued by business travelers and suggest the type of online or automated features needed to ensure traveler satisfaction while maintaining savings.
Accessing Offline Services
Survey results identified key reasons why American business travelers using online services to book a trip also access offline services:
á The desire to have a person confirm what is booked online is actually booked - 49%
á While on the road or at the last minute it’s too difficult to update plans online - 32%
á Online booking cannot address some specific travel needs - 29%
“Online self-booking delivers savings for corporate travel, but this survey identifies specific situations when business travelers prefer to go offline, thereby negating a portion of those savings,” said Travelport vice president of product and marketing, Charlotte Blackwell. “With up to a third of travelers choosing to go ‘offline,’ this suggests travel management companies must provide faster and easier-to-use online and automated options that instill confidence in the user while meeting their real world needs. Innovation through technology will ultimately maximize savings and efficiency.”
To meet these demands, Travelport developed an integrated and flexible business travel solution that delivers online booking capabilities and agency services while maintaining savings for the corporate customer. For example, Travelport customers see all flight options, including web fares and sold out flights, when viewing online search results. This increases understanding of availability by presenting a full set of results in a single, integrated display, minimizing the need to call an agent in attempts to find flights they might not otherwise be able to view.
Additionally, companies like Travelport are innovating new features such as online interactive assistance to quickly answer traveler questions while booking or changing itineraries. This ensures travelers get what they want quickly within the online environment.
Opinion of Online Booking for Business Travel
The Travelport survey measured American business traveler opinion of online booking to find out what motivates them to use it when arranging travel or changing an itinerary. Primarily related to productivity, the findings include:
á 55% like the speed and ease-of-use of online self-booking for arranging their business travel
á 19% like having their personal information like frequent flyer numbers and supplier preferences pre-loaded in booking process
á 15% like booking online because they are able to do so outside of office hours.
Travelport also asked business travelers with online access what features might make them more likely to book business travel online most or all the time:
á Speed and reliability of online tool - 37%
á Ability to confidently make changes or capture special needs accurately - 33%
á Guaranteed access to my preferred airlines, hotels and car rental companies - 30%
á All flight options displayed on one page - 28%
á A perk or award provided by employer for consistently using the online booking system- 20%
“The survey findings show that business travelers want speed, reliability, high quality content and personalization in their online business travel services,” said Blackwell. “We believe the best solution is found in a completely integrated program like Travelport’s “end-to-end” solution of Travelport Online Booking, Galileo GDS and Travelport Fulfillment. Services provided by a single source offer greater savings, more accountability and user-friendly features that follow the traveler through every step of his or her trip.”
“The winning model for corporate customers and travelers alike is a business-focused, flexible system that takes advantage of technology to meet the need for savings and service,” said Blackwell. “That is only possible if you truly understand what motivates business travelers, and these survey results point to trends and behaviors that may be key in shaping effective business travel solutions.”