Business travellers in the UK are more likely to book directly with a supplier or use an online travel agent instead of using a traditional booking channel than their counterparts in Germany and France, according to new research.
The research by the GBTA Foundation and Concur, Booking Behaviour: The Business Traveller's Perspective, found that 64% of UK business travellers used alternative channels, compared with 59% who used traditional channels, such as a travel agent or a company-sanctioned online booking tool. The figures were 61% and 60% respectively in both Germany and France.
Where travellers had the option to use an online booking tool, the use of traditional channels was higher - 79% in Germany and 81% in both the UK and France, suggesting that OBTs have the effect of encouraging travellers to use a preferred booking channel.
The full results are shown in the chart below.
The survey also showed that employees of large companies are most likely to use traditional channels as larger companies appear more likely to have these channels available and require travellers to use them. Even at large companies, however, nearly half of business travellers in each country have used an alternative channel to book at least one trip in the past year. When employees are required to follow mandated travel they are also more likely to use traditional channels, while those encouraged to follow guidelines are more likely to use alternative channels.
"This survey showed that even when travellers have OBT access, they commonly book directly with alternative channels," said Monica Sanchez, GBTA director of research. "Travel buyers and their programmes 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."
When asked why they booked outside of their company's preferred booking channel, business travellers most commonly answered better pricing, the ability to earn loyalty status and more convenience. Even when travellers use alternative channels, they may still book with their company's preferred suppliers. They most commonly use non-preferred suppliers when they find a more convenient option, when a preferred supplier is not available and when they find a cheaper price somewhere else.