The latest Business Travel Trends Report by Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) reveals that employees increasingly expect the same choice, technology and intuitive booking platforms that they find with leisure travel.
Following a survey of corporate travellers and interviews with senior travel buyers and TMCs, the report – titled How TMCs are keeping up with the corporate traveller – highlights that 68 per cent of travellers book at least half of their travel outside approved tools, which EAN says affects policy compliance and duty of care.
Rates and choice were the top reasons given for off-channel bookings, with 47 per cent of travellers claiming they can find better rates outside of approved tools. 38 per cent say they’ve seen better prices on OTA sites, while 36 per cent comment that they have been unable to find desirable properties through their employers’ official channels.
Among those who book using a mix of official and external channels, 47 per cent say it would be easier to use their employers’ recommended tools if they provided better rates and availability.
Technology also plays a large part when it comes to keeping travellers on policy, as 40 per cent of survey respondents report a neutral or negative view of their company’s booking tool. Meanwhile, 46 per cent call for improved functionality, citing enhancements such as the ability to make changes to existing reservations (37 per cent) and new or better mobile booking features (31 per cent).
A resounding 63 per cent per cent say they use online tools instead of contacting an agent, showing the need for TMCs to provide self-booking capabilities to keep travellers happy.
Ariane Gorin, president of Expedia Partner Solutions, commented: “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 optimise our websites and apps, and business travellers 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 autonomy throughout the booking process, as well as an increasingly personalised service. By offering a better solution and more choice, business travellers will be more likely to book in policy, which will increase compliance and improve duty of care – major concerns in corporate travel today.”
The full report can be downloaded here.