A survey of business travellers has found that the majority prefer to manage their travel transactions digitally over dealing with an agent.

According to travel management platform CWT, 69 per cent of those polled would rather book their flights digitally than have human interactions. That number rises for hotel reservations (78 per cent), ground transportation (71 per cent) and checking in for flights (68 per cent).

However, travellers still prefer to speak with a real person face to face when checking into their hotel (46 per cent) or checking out (51 per cent).

Andrew Jordan, CWT’s chief product and technology officer, commented: “Technology is becoming more and more dominant in the travel ecosystem. Digital interactions are taking over, so the travel industry must keep evolving to offer companies and their employees the experience they want and expect.”

Interestingly, Europeans are the most resistant to technology, with only 61 per cent of travellers preferring digital channels over human interactions for flight bookings, compared to 73 per cent in Asia Pacific and 71 per cent in the Americas. This rises to 70 per cent for hotel reservations for Europeans.

The research also shows that while 45 per cent of all travel is booked via a desktop computer – down from 52 per cent in 2017 – smartphones are catching up. Forty-one per cent of bookings were made via mobile this year compared to 32 per cent in 2019. Tablets rank third with 11 per cent, while only 2 per cent of those surveyed saying they get help with bookings from an agent.

When asked how they prefer to deal with disruptions or itinerary changes, 33 per cent of those surveyed say using a mobile app is the most effective way to do so.

Travellers also showed signs of being conscious of their amount of travel, with eight out of ten saying they have used technology in place of physically travelling for business in the past year. A quarter have done so five or more times.

Jordan concluded: “The modern business traveller wants to be able to make decisions immediately at their convenience. Companies need to empower their employees to have this control and give them the needed tools, such as mobile apps, to best equip them on their journey.”


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