The Last Frontier of Consumerizing Travel Lives in the Workplace
According to a 2014 study by Google, 74 percent of leisure travelers relied on the internet for travel planning. That’s not surprising; it’s generally understood that most consumers make travel plans online. But that same study found that 77 percent of business travelers also started their journey online. Similarly, 78 percent of business travelers used a smartphone during travel planning, versus 67 percent for leisure travelers.
Yet in many companies, booking travel still involves emailing or calling an actual travel agent, who then books with the airline or hotel. For executives, it often involves first telling an assistant, who then communicates with a travel agent, who then communicates with the airline or hotel. Unsurprisingly, this process has lengthy reaction times, is prone to errors and loses traveler preferences along the way.
So if business travelers are turning to new digital channels at an equal or even greater rate than leisure travelers for planning, why is business so far behind leisure in the migration of actual booking to digital? Among the many reasons that companies cite for using travel agents are: simplifying the booking experience for employees, saving money and enforcing corporate travel policies.
Unlike travel agents, computer servers don’t mind working 24-7, and they have near instantaneous response times. New corporate travel platforms can leverage best-practice designs from e-commerce and consumer travel to simplify complex decisions and reduce the need for human intervention. For instance, changing or canceling a reservation on the Booking.com mobile app is easier than sending an email to an agent. Even in drastic situations like a flight cancellation, new consumer travel apps like Freebird demonstrate how computing power and a good interface outperform agents.