Business travellers are increasingly booking direct with suppliers and embracing mobile and sharing economy services, a new study into booking behaviours has found.

The study, conducted by GBTA and Concur, found nearly one-third of business travellers expect to use “alternative channels” more often in the next year. However, the study found this growth in direct bookings will not come at the expense of using an online booking tool (OBT).

The study of travellers based in Europe’s three largest business travel markets – Germany, UK and France – revealed that over the past year one-third booked directly with a supplier and one-fourth used an online travel agency (OTA), despite having access to an OBT.

“As alternative channels are increasingly used, travel programs may have reduced visibility into booking over time facing greater difficulty ensuring duty of care and achieving cost savings,” said Monica Sanchez, GBTA Foundation director of research. “It’s important for travel professionals to plan for this growing trend in their programs – ensuring they capture and manage employee travel no matter where or how it was purchased,” she said.

When asked to rank their most preferred booking channels, 30 per cent who had OBT access in the past year rank this channel as their top choice, even if they had no restrictions. At the same time, roughly half of business travellers in each country would prefer booking directly with a supplier or using an OTA.



The study also found that a majority of business travellers booked at least one work trip on a mobile device in the past year. Millennials and high-frequency travellers (12+ trips annually) are more likely to book on a mobile device than other age groups and low-frequency travellers, respectively.

The numbers indicate mobile booking is likely to continue to grow in the near future as a decent share of business travellers expect to book on a mobile device “more often” in the next year, while only a tiny share expect to do so “less often”.

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