Digital channels win the hearts of corporate travelers

26 June 2019

“I’ll Google it”.

This is a phrase everyone is likely to hear during any conversation on finding answers.

Picture this scenario - you are at a family BBQ talking to Uncle Steve about his holiday plans. He is thinking of going to South America but is nervous about the safety of some countries. Or what electrical plugs they use. Or hotels closest to the sporting games he is attending. At some point, the inevitable suggestion is made accompanied by retrieving their smartphone: “I’ll Google it”.

This has been the reality for leisure travel for at least a decade after smartphones became widespread in the 2010s.


Consumer expectations are dictating corporate travel preferences

The same people chatting at a BBQ or social event are travellers who are also booking their corporate travel. Why wouldn’t they want to book these options seamlessly alongside personal travel requirements?

The answer, according to a recent study commissioned by travel management company CWT, indicates that corporate travellers have been influenced by their consumer experiences, and now prefer to manage transactions via online channels and apps.

More than two thirds (69%) of business travellers prefer online channels when booking flights, and even greater numbers (78%) want to transact online for hotel bookings.

Similar numbers of respondents to the survey wanted to book ground transportation (limos, taxis, Ubers, buses or hire car options) via an app or web browser and 68% want to use these channels to check in for flights.

Asia Pacific is leading the world in digital and mobile bookings

Corporate travelers who live in the Asia Pacific region are more likely to choose online channels over human interaction. Factors driving this bias for digital channels include the high penetration of smartphone usage, preference for communicating via chat platforms and greater numbers of online and app options for banking and payments.

A testament to how much Asia Pacific travelers rely on their smartphones is that 50% of respondents indicated they prefer to book travel via these devices compared to 40% of U.S. travelers and just over a quarter of European travelers.

Compared with US and Europe, corporate travelers from Asia Pacific are also more likely to prefer digital channels for flight bookings. The study revealed that almost three-quarters of travelers from this region prefer digital channels to book flights (73%) compared to 71% of U.S travellers and 61% of Europeans


The travel ecosystem is technology-dependent

As digital interactions are fast becoming corporate travelers’ preferences, travel managers and agents need to evolve to ensure their stakeholders get the experiences they expect.

It’s no longer acceptable to rely on disconnected systems that don’t include the full digital experience and allow travelers to customise their experience as well as access or change booking information via their smartphones through online or app channels.

The upcoming NDC changes will go a long way in connecting the dots for travel managers looking to provide a richer and more seamless experience for corporate travelers.

However, it is also vital to look at the corporate travel management systems in use, and their integration with options to book, change and manage overall travel plans, both in line with corporate travel policies but also corporate travellers’ personal preferences.

NDC is an excellent opportunity to enhance the customer experience and drive more extensive choice and diversity for travel managers and corporate travelers, while still providing a unique environment that allows them to manage organizational goals. Take a look at the NDC resource centre.

As the first corporate travel & expense platform in the world to become NDC Level 3 certified, Zeno is future-proofing our customers in every way possible.


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