A recent GBTA Foundation study, sponsored by Concur, talked to both business travelers and travel buyers about booking behaviors. Over the past year, business travelers are generally satisfied with booking business trips across a variety of channels.
Looking at the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, more than 85 percent of business travelers are satisfied with booking directly with an airline or hotel, while roughly three-quarters are satisfied with using an online booking tool (OBT). When you look deeper though, travelers are more often “very satisfied” with booking direct than they are with using an OBT.
On the flip side, travel buyers generally don’t think their company will be more likely to allow booking through alternative channels five years from now. In the United States, two in five (38 percent) travel buyers at companies that currently do allow booking through alternative channels believe they will be less likely to do so in five years. That number jumps to nearly half (49 percent) of travel buyers at companies that currently do not allow booking through alternative channels.
At first glance, these results suggest a disconnect between traveler preferences and the future direction of travel programs. TMCs could also see this as an opportunity, however. Understanding why travelers like booking direct and integrating as much as possible from that experience into booking through an OBT can increase the level of satisfaction and compliance with a corporate tool.
Five years from now, alternative channels will still exist and business travelers will still use them, but it is up to the travel buyer along with their TMC to determine how to manage this behavior. Increased education on travel policies, better use of technology to capture data generated outside of the corporate system and partnerships with suppliers are all ways a TMC can help travel programs better manage traveler behavior.