Business travellers expect the same choice, technology and booking platforms in the leisure sector, Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) says.
The online travel giant’s B2B hotel distribution arm has released its Business Travel Trends Report after surveying corporate travellers and interviewing senior corporate travel buyers and travel management companies (TMCs).
It found that 68% of business travellers book half or more of their travel outside approved tools, affecting policy compliance and duty of care.
Rates and choice are the primary reasons for off-channel booking, it said, with 47% of survey respondents saying better direct rates can be found outside approved channels.
Similarly, 38% point to better prices on OTAs and 36% say they have been unable to find a desired property on their employer’s official channels.
Among those who mix official channels with external ones, 47% said that improving rates and availability would make it easier to use their employer’s recommended tools.
According to EAN’s findings, corporations and TMCs will lose them to consumer platforms unless they offer the same service and ease of use.
The report found 40% of respondents report a neutral or negative view of their employer’s booking tool, while 46% call for improved functionality, asking for enhancements such as the ability to make changes to existing reservations (37%) and new or improved mobile booking features (31%).
An increasing movement towards self-enabled booking was also desired, the survey found, with 63% of respondents saying they use an online booking tool instead of contacting an agent.
Ariane Gorin, president at Expedia Partner Solutions, said: “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 optimize 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 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 both 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.”