Skift Take

Business travelers in Europe are completely divided on how they prefer to book their work travel. Travel management companies need to make their online booking tools more compelling and easier to use.

Safety and security have taken on a newfound importance in the corporate travel ecosystem as the world has become a more dangerous place.

For international business travelers in Europe, however, the benefits of travel management company safety measures don’t outweigh the ease of booking a trip how they want.

The Global Business Travel Association and Concur polled 735 business travelers in the UK, Germany, and France on their business travel booking habits and security concerns. The research found that business travelers will book outside of policy, even if travelers know it’s less safe for them.

This is bad news for travel management companies, which have introduced traveler tracking and safety tools in recent years. If traveler data isn’t in the system, they can’t be tracked and helped out if something goes wrong, which can pose legal and liability issues.

“During these times of global uncertainty, business leaders have a responsibility to know where employees are and keep them safe and informed,” said Scott Torrey, Concur’s chief revenue officer. “One of the most surprising results of the study is that half of business travelers know that not booking through company channels can affect their safety but a majority still book outside.”

In fact, corporate booking tool usage has decreased in some European countries despite technological advances in recent years. About half book using a company-approved tool.

Business Travelers With Access to an Online Booking Tool Who Used It Each Year
Germany UK France
2015 52% 51% 60%
2016 57% 59% 60%
2017 51% 51% 51%

“While the majority still book through an [online booking tools], the irony is that roughly 7 out of 10 travelers booked outside of company channels at least once in the past year, even when they had access to an [online booking tool],” states the report.

Travelers were totally mixed on their preferred booking channel. Online booking tools obviously don’t offer an attractive use case for business travelers rnow with so many other options out there.

If Business Travelers Had No Restrictions, How Would They Book?
Germany UK France
Supplier Direct 23% 27% 32%
Online Travel Agency 26% 31% 23%
Online Booking Tool 27% 24% 25%
Travel Management Company 23% 19% 18%

The research also provides more insight into the awareness gap between what travel programs offer and whether travelers know about all the services available to them.

“…. Access to various risk management services is far from universal. Roughly one-third or more do not have access to various basic risk management services. This could reflect that many travelers are not part of a fully managed program.

“However, even when travelers say their company uses a ‘travel management company for any product or service,’ more than one-fifth do not think they have access to various key services. These travelers may not be aware of services that are actually available to them or work for companies that use [travel management companies] in a limited way.”

More than half of those polled said their company provides travel safety training, for instance, but the content and quality of that training varies wildly between organizations.


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Tags: business travel, europe, gbta, online booking

Photo credit: Flyers walk in front of a mirror at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Safety and security have taken on a newfound importance in the corporate travel ecosystem. Mark Fischer / Flickr

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