Corporate booking systems often get a bit of a beating for not enabling a user experience similar to leisure travel platforms.
A recent study from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives reveals some of the ongoing challenges when it comes to adoption of these technologies.
According to the research, only 11% of respondents say chat and instant messaging functionality is used to book travel, although 35% say they plan to use it going forward.
Currently, 86% of travel managers say company tools are used for booking travel, 49% say mobile is used and 12% say chat and instant message are used.
The “Booking Tools and Technologies" study, which was supported by American Express Global Business Travel, also reveals that although 81% mandate use of company platforms, 59% say online booking tool adoption is 70% or above.
And, 5% admit only one in 10 employees use the online booking tool.
Responding to a question on whether a rethink is needed, Evan Konwiser, Amex GBT vice president of marketing and product strategy, says that while online booking tools are often used as “punching bags,” a lot of people have seen success in using them with some “pretty extreme adoption rates” when compared to other employee systems.
“That said, a bit, or a lot, of a rethink is needed. We need to rethink the paradigm of booking. The tools are going as fast as they can in that experience, that usability flow, but there is a lot more progress to be made.
“The reality is these are web tools, predominantly built in an era of bringing booking online. Now we’re moving beyond that and the idea that booking should be anywhere a traveler wants it to be - a mobile app, an SMS function, an IM function.”
Many believe education on the technologies as well as changing traveler perception are ways to increase adoption. The study shows that 47% of respondents communicate regularly with employees on the booking tool.
And, 39% of travel managers believe the main reason for employees not to book through the company booking is the belief that they get a better price via a different channel.
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Konwiser says it’s about marketing the benefits for the traveler and the company of the whole travel program, not just the online booking tool.
“Consumers don’t use tools without marketing, so why should employees? You have to market the value of what you’re bringing to the table and then make it as easy as possible to use.
"Once the traveler is in the tool you should not have to tell them how to use it. We download apps on our phones all day long and none of them come up user manuals, they’re just intuitive.”
Although millennials are often blamed for a shift away from corporate tools, Konwiser doesn’t believe it’s a generational thing.
He says that the volume of “travel-related and parallel products” small businesses and consumers have access to is shifting expectations.
“The question is, can those enterprise tools continue to evolve fast enough, given the challenges in the corporate environment, to keep up?”
The full study can be downloaded here.