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Business travelers demand better choice and technology

Apr 30, 2018

Today’s business travelers expect the same choice, technology and intuitive booking platforms that they find with leisure travel, says Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) in its new Business Travel Trends Report, released today. 

Following a survey of corporate travelers and interviews with senior corporate travel buyers and travel management companies (TMCs), EAN’s report – ‘How TMCs are Keeping Up with the Corporate Traveler’ – highlights that 68% of business travelers book half or more of their travel outside approved tools, affecting policy compliance and duty of care.

The report reveals that rates and choice are the primary reasons for off-channel booking, with 47% of survey respondents citing that better direct rates can be found outside approved channels. Similarly, 38% point to better prices on OTA sites and 36% say they have been unable to find a desired property on their employer’s official channels. Among those who mix official channels with external ones, 47% said that improving rates and availability would make it easier to use their employer’s recommended tools.

While rates and availability are critical, business travelers want a booking experience that delivers the same ease-of-use as consumer channels. According to EAN’s findings, corporations and TMCs which do not effectively optimize their solutions in line with what business travelers expect will continue to lose them to consumer platforms.

The report cites that 40% of respondents report a neutral or negative view of their employer’s booking tool, while 46% call for improved functionality, citing enhancements such as the ability to make changes to existing reservations (37%) and new or improved mobile booking features (31%). Additionally, there is increasing movement towards self-enabled booking, with 63% of survey respondents saying they use an online booking tool instead of contacting an agent. However, business travelers do also expect increased personalization.

Ariane Gorin, president, Expedia Partner Solutions, says: “The travel sector is seeing incredible tech innovation. In Expedia Group’s consumer business, teams are constantly testing and learning in order to improve and optimize our websites and apps, and business travelers expect the same seamless user experience they find in leisure travel. As a result, corporate tools that don’t deliver lose out.  

“TMCs who partner with technology companies, like EAN, will be better positioned to succeed because they can offer a more consumer-like experience with improved choice of accommodations and the latest technology.

“Corporate travel behaviour is evolving and for TMCs to keep up, they need to offer both autonomy throughout the booking process, as well as an increasingly personalised service. By offering a better solution and more choice, business travelers will be more likely to book in policy, which will increase compliance and improve duty of care – major concerns in corporate travel today.”

The report can be downloaded at Business Travel Trends.