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UK business travel agents have been less affected by the current credit squeeze than their leisure counterparts, according to an online poll by GDS provider Amadeus.
Nearly half of business agents (44%) said the weak economy did not shake sales in March, while only 28% of leisure agents agreed ” reinforcing the notion that business travel is more robust because companies will always require employees to travel for their work.
While the majority of agents across both sectors said they expected bookings for the next three months to be no weaker than last year, a fifth of business bookers did say sales had been hit by the crunch.
”It is heartening that confidence remains high among the travel agency community despite the ”doom and gloom” of recent headlines,” said Amadeus director of marketing UK and Ireland Elaine Seeto.
Specifically regarding hotel bookings, agents said location was the most important factor for choosing properties, and GDSs and hotels” websites were equally popular when it came to researching them. However, Web 2.0 social networking sites are becoming more popular, and 27% of agents said they now use the review site Trip Advisor to find information.
A resounding 75% said they no longer use brochures when making bookings ” although those that did reference them declared them easier to use.
”With many travel agents now looking to diversify their revenue streams, Amadeus is responding by developing easier ways to book non-air product,” added Seeto. ”When it comes to hospitality, we”re developing a new business travel tool that greatly simplifies the search process to help consultants rapidly match client needs.
”The application will help travel professionals expand their customer offering and take full advantage of the commissions still available from the sale of accommodation.”