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Buyers: Flight group reservations 'expensive and inefficient'

Travel buyers have called on the airline industry to improve its processes and procedures for group reservations, with many criticising the length of time it takes to make a booking.

In a study, by travel technology firm Azavista, buyers said while individual reservations for a flight can be made in minutes, a group reservation "is just not that simple" and can take "days or even weeks".

The majority of the respondents described group flight reservations as "expensive, inefficient, frustrating and time consuming".

The study also found price to be another issue as more than 80 per cent of buyers interviewed said finding a good price for groups is harder than individual bookings.

According to the study 56 per cent of the respondents stated airlines should offer more flexibility in changes, as travel planners have to deal with last minute approvals.

Almost 60% of respondents stated that group check-ins can be made more efficient with online group check-in systems. They also proposed group baggage check in or boarding passes printed in advance before the group arrives.

The study found travel planners are more and more taking into consideration which airline is the easiest to work with and which can offer the best terms and conditions.

Furthermore, 80% of group travel managers said they would like a technology solution that can handle all aspects of group flight arrangements, such as sending RFPs, receiving offers, tracking terms and conditions and handling passenger details.

Airlines response

Airlines responded to the findings by stating conditions are strict because groups come with a level of uncertainty and this might cause drops in revenue for the airline industry. Therefore, airlines choose to reduce this element of uncertainty by setting conditions that will safe-guard them in possible cancellations.

The study, Group Flight Reservations: Trends, Challenges and Recommendations, interviewed 200 group travel managers and 20 major airline carriers in EMEA and the US.

Comments

Agreeing totally about the inefficiency and expensive way to organise Group Bookings, at Lingua Franca International we have found an effective, cost effective and great way to meet all attendees' desires and completely backed by the clients - self booking from own regional airports.

Generalising, the airlines are their own worst enemy and definitely NOT favourable to Conference and Event Organisers. Albeit, though it took over six months to organise a competitive price, the to and fro with Etihad finally resulted in a compromise for an event organised in Abu Dhabi last year. However, attempting to latch onto the main booking several Business Class tickets a couple of days prior to the main event could not be done as the main booking was date specific.
So travelling with competitors as individuals is now a policy being continued that is stress free, less admin, much lower in cost and above all, greatly appreciated by those attending events - local airports, where possible also means no pre-flight overnight costs.
The airlines have been missing out on Group Bookings for years - maybe if they had the right approach to their pax numbers could be increased? That is if attitudes change towards event organisers.

Stuart Hopwood's picture
Stuart Hopwood (not verified)

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