New research by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) reports that most travel managers remain skeptical of unmanaged travel, an approach to corporate travel that allows travelers to book through any channel.
Only 9 percent of surveyed travel managers say they are in favor of unmanaged travel, compared to 62 percent who are against the idea. More strikingly, CWT says 87 percent say their companies have not tried unmanaged travel and have no intention of doing so. Of those who do intend to pilot a more relaxed booking approach or have already done so, most stated it was to increase traveler satisfaction.
The research also showed that 45 percent of CWT’s global bookings are for complex, multi-segment trips and 45 percent of CWT’s European reservations are changed before or after ticketing, indicating the need for close traveler support. Other findings from CWT demonstrate that fully-managed travel programs are more user-friendly, cheaper and represent a more effective way to tackle program leakage; the results of three independent studies confirmed that fares booked through Travel Management Company (TMC) channels cost 9-24 percent less than fares available on the open market.
"We do expect to see consumer trends continuing to influence corporate traveler behavior and expectations, with a clear emphasis on increasing traveler choice. However, recent feedback from our customers has shown that while this migration toward increased choice is steadily taking place, today’s solutions are not yet robust enough to allow them to relax their booking channel policies," said David Moran, CWT executive vice president, enterprise strategy and marketing.
In addition, while there has been much discussion on companies wanting to adapt to ‘Gen-Y’ travelers by giving them more freedom in the booking process, CWT data shows no significant difference between age groups when it comes to booking behavior or preferences. "It is clear that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach", continued Moran. "To ensure that our clients get the best result from a safety, cost and efficiency perspective, we are working on solutions that will allow our clients to capture essential data at the same time as providing their travelers with a great shopping experience."
Those companies taking a more relaxed approach to booking can continue to promote program compliance and collect essential data: where leakage does occur, CWT says it supports a variety of efforts to capture lost information with the objective of bringing it back into the managed travel program to meet safety and security requirements and maximize supplier benefits.