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Adopting online channels to attract MICE business

While 92 percent of travel managers say they have already adopted online booking tools, there is a growing need among businesses to create a more efficient and streamlined booking process.

  • Companies with high frequency travellers see a growing need for a single online booking tool (OBT) platform
  • Customisation, education and surpassing a consumer-grade experience are important to improving OBT adoption.

According to “Booking Tools and Technologies: One Size Does Not Fit All”, the new global survey of corporate travel buyers from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), underwritten by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), 80 percent of respondents say it’s important that all channels are integrated into one platform.

A large majority (81 percent) of respondents say they have a mandate in place requiring travellers to book travel through company tools and platforms, with 5 percent admitting adoption is currently lower than 10 percent. This indicates that, despite corporate policies, there are still real challenges and a need for ongoing education when it comes to user adoption.

Education to drive adoption

Low rates of employee adoption may be due to a lack of internal education on how to use the tools. Less than half (47 percent) of respondents communicate regularly with employees about their booking tools. Perhaps even more surprisingly, 8 percent of travel managers surveyed say their organisation has never communicated with employees about booking tools – not even during the onboarding process.

Correcting misinformation among employees

Employees might not understand the true value of using OBTs to book corporate travel, resulting in lower rates of compliance. Thirty-nine percent of travel managers say the primary reason employees aren’t booking through a company’s OBT is that travellers believe they can get a better price and save money elsewhere.

Shifting expectations

Individuals are increasingly using highly integrated platforms and technologies for online and mobile shopping, which furthers the expectation that OBTs should have the same user-friendly functionality. Only 11 percent of respondents state that chat and instant messaging (IM) channels are currently being used to book travel, but more than a third (35 percent) plan to add them as options for travellers in the future. This data reflects a desire to keep pace with consumer retail trends and an opportunity for the industry to strive to surpass them – something travel managers and technology providers should consider.

Travel managers who are worried about low rates of OBT adoption expressed concerns about duty of care (56 percent), employees booking outside of company policy (56 percent) and missed opportunities to save money (55 percent).

As every business has different travel-related needs, 90 percent of travel managers say optimising their OBT platform for company policy and preferred options was moderately to extremely important.

“Travel managers should be wary of evolving traveller expectations. The booking experience needs to be highly flexible and should look and feel like it does when they book personal travel,” said Fitzgerald Draper, Director of Research with ACTE. “While customisation and finding the right fit are important facets of a company’s OBT selection, users must also understand the platform’s value and functionality. Travel managers should look for ways to market the selected tool to their travelers, including all the benefits that come with it.”

Evan Konwiser, VP of Marketing and Product Strategy, American Express Global Business Travel, said: “Booking through OBTs is a critical part of the travel experience and should be channel agnostic and ubiquitous wherever a traveller wants to be. For a travel program to work, companies need to implement tools that are intuitive and delightful to use, while deploying a marketing toolkit to reinforce why the program is good for them and the business.”

BONUS: Download this infographic for a glance at the top issues, concerns and objectives around online booking.

Source : American Express Global Business Travel (GBT)