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The good news for companies in three major European markets: About 60 percent of business travelers use traditional, approved methods to book their work trips.
There is also bad news, according to results of a new study from the Global Business Travel Association: About 60 percent of the travelers who responded used alternative channels, whether or not that was allowed by their employers.
Slightly more than 20 percent of respondents said they used both traditional and alternative means.
The survey of 741 business travelers in the UK, Germany, and France showed a big point of agreement: The vast majority — between 79 and 81 percent — used a traditional method if they had access to a corporate online booking tool. But even that group admitted to using alternative methods such as booking directly or using an online travel agency.
“Business travelers in the UK, Germany, and France book through a diverse number of booking channels and this survey showed that even when travelers have [online booking tool] access, they commonly book directly with alternative channels,” GBTA director of research Monica Sanchez said in a statement. “Travel buyers and their programs should keep this in mind and address the exceptions to the rule when booking outside of the corporate channels and put in place a clear protocol to ensure duty of care responsibilities are met.”
The study found that work requirements do sway behavior. Those employees who are required to follow specific travel rules are more likely to use traditional channels, but those who are merely encouraged to abide by policies are more apt to turn to alternative methods.
Even without restrictions, almost half of those who responded said they would choose a corporate online booking tool as their top choice, higher than the rate for any other option.
“This is perhaps surprising,” the study said, noting that travelers might prefer the tool for ease of locating preferred suppliers, comparing options, knowing which comply with policy and forwarding itineraries for approval.
Travelers said that when they choose suppliers that are not approved by their company, they most often do so because another option is more convenient, a preferred supplier isn’t available or the price is cheaper somewhere else.
“This suggests that in many cases, travelers do not ignore their company’s travel policy because they prefer a particular brand, or an expensive option,” the study said.