While 92 per cent of travel managers say they have already adopted online booking tools, a recent survey has found more than half admit they don’t communicate regularly with employees about the value of such solutions.

According to the new report “Booking Tools and Technologies: One Size Does Not Fit All” by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) and American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), only 47 per cent of travel managers educate their travellers on a regular basis about their company’s booking tools.

Shockingly, 8 per cent of those surveyed said their organisation has never communicated with employees about booking tools – not even during the onboarding process.

And while 81 per cent said their business has a mandate in place requiring staff to book travel through company tools and platforms, 5 per cent of those admitted adoption is currently lower than 10 per cent.

When asked why they believe employees aren’t using mandated tools, 39 per cent of those surveyed said travellers think they can get a better deal and save money elsewhere, showing there is a lack of understanding about the value of using online booking tools.

Low adoption rates are creating worry amongst travel managers too; 56 per cent expressed concerns over duty of care, while the same amount are apprehensive about employees booking outside of policy. Fifty-five per cent believe the company may be missing out on opportunities to save money.

Among travel managers, the use of highly integrated platforms and technologies for online and mobile shopping is becoming increasingly popular; 80 per cent of respondents said consolidating all channels into one platform is important.

However, only 11 per cent said they use chat and instant messaging channels – but more than a third plan to add them as an option for travellers in the future.

The vast majority (90 per cent) of those surveyed agreed that optimising their online booking tool platform for company policy and preferred options was moderately or extremely important.

“Travel managers should be wary of evolving traveller expectations,” explained Fitzgerald Draper, director of research at ACTE. “The booking experience needs to be highly flexible and should look and feel like it does when they book personal travel.

“While customisation and finding the right fit are important facets of a company’s online booking tool selection, users must also understand the platform’s value and functionality. Travel managers should look for ways to market the selected tool to their travellers, including all the benefits that come with it.”

Evan Konwiser, VP of marketing and product strategy at Amex GBT, added: “Booking through online booking tools is a critical part of the travel experience and should be channel agnostic and ubiquitous wherever the traveller wants to be. For a travel programme to work, companies need to implement tools that are intuitive and delightful to use, while deploying a marketing toolkit to reinforce why the programme is good for them and the business.”

Download a copy of the full report here

acte.org; amexglobalbusinesstravel.com

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