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Internet Bookings Surge Among Business Travellers

More than half of business travellers use the Internet as their primary means of arranging their business travel, according to results of a survey released today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). The survey of more than 450 business travellers in the United Kingdom found that 53 per cent book their business travel primarily on-line, compared to 47 per cent who did so in 2003, when Accenture first fielded the survey. ÊIn contrast, only 27 per cent of respondents reported that their preferred booking method is by telephone with a live agent, down from 41 per cent in 2003. ÊAdditionally, 46 per cent of respondents say they have used airport kiosks to check in, and almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of those who have used kiosks said they did so largely for their convenience.

“We’re witnessing a rapid uptake of technology use among business travellers,” said Alex Christou, a partner in Accenture’s Transportation & Travel Services practice. Ê“Since travellers clearly expect to use IT, travel and hospitality leaders are focusing on using these electronic channels as a means of enhancing both customer service and their bottom line.”
According to the survey, respondents continue to prefer major network carriers for business travel (cited by 55 per cent), and they use both major network carriers and low-cost airlines for personal travel (cited by 48 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively). ÊThese numbers have remained constant since last year, when 54 per cent said they used major network carriers for business travel and 47 cited low cost carriers as their personal travel preference.

At the same time, however, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents said they expect their use of low-cost air carriers to increase or remain the same over the next six months. ÊIn addition, 46 per cent said they would increase their usage of low-cost carriers if the carriers offered more of the flights into main airports.

“Major network carriers and hotel companies should be keenly aware that aspects beyond price, such as convenient schedules, are deciding factors for many business travellers,” said Christou. Ê“We continue to see that service and convenience - from the website to the aisle seat to the hotel room - remain top concerns for travellers. ÊCompanies that provide convenience, good prices and quality service on a consistent basis can win the lucrative business traveller.”