Business travellers are booking more trips online than ever before, and are looking for the web sites where they can most easily determine the total price of their travel plans, according to a survey by Accenture.
More than three in four (83%) of nearly 800 US business travellers surveyed said the most important feature an online travel site can provide is the ability to see the total price, including taxes and fees, at the time of purchase. And more than half (58%) of respondents said that being able to redeem points or miles for travel was an important feature of a travel site.
More than half (56%) said they want to see pictures of hotel accommodation online, rather than simply read descriptions of them.
Paul Chiu, managing partner of Accenture's Transportation & Travel Services practice, says: "Booking business travel has moved online and sites must provide capabilities beyond rate shopping and managing reservations, which are just the 'table stakes' now. While still relatively new, some sites are looking ahead and are deploying the next set of capabilities, including destination itinerary planning, additional customer preference capture and individualised promotions."
More customised service
According to the survey, business travellers are willing to provide additional personal information in order to get better service from their travel suppliers. The survey found that many respondents would be willing to provide hotels with personal information in return for better, more customised service.
While 77% would be willing to share their smoking status, many are "very likely to extremely likely" to share information regarding age (48%), marital status (48%), number of children (47%), favourite foods (53%), favourite sports (49%) and leisure activities (56%).
But in return for sharing such information, business travellers surveyed said they would like to receive several traditional perks, including preferred seating or upgrades, discounts and cash back from hotels and airlines. In addition, 63% of respondents said they would be willing to provide additional personal information in exchange for targeted promotions.
- Planning ahead
Casting doubt on the perception that business travellers book trips at the last minute, the survey found that almost half (49%) book travel more than 14 days in advance.
- Hotel preference
During the past two years, an increasing number of business travellers have shifted to mid-range hotels from budget chain brands. The majority (81%) of respondents said they use mid-range hotels when travelling for business, but prefer budget chain hotels for personal travel.
- Kiosk use
The vast majority of respondents (89%) use airport kiosks to check in for flights, while only 7% check into a hotel using a kiosk.
According to Chiu, "Travellers are willing to share preference information but expect the airline, lodging company or rental car firm to use that information to improve service. Business travellers are also open to receiving promotions relevant to their hobbies, interests and lifestyle. To differentiate themselves from the generic promotion campaigns that typify the industry today, travel suppliers should consider teaming with complimentary vendors like local restaurants and attractions to create promotions targeted at the specific interests of the frequent traveller."