LONDON; 25 Oct. 2005 – Technology is becoming a larger part of business travelers’ experience, according to results of a recent Accenture (NYSE: ACN) survey.
The semi-annual survey found that more than half (58 percent) of the more than 400 business travelers queried said they book trips online, up from 52 percent in the 2004 survey and 47 percent in 2003. Additionally, more than three-quarters (78 percent) use the Internet to research flight times and availability. Similarly, 72 percent of respondents research hotel vacancies online, while 65 percent reserve rooms electronically. The number of business travelers checking in for flights online, however, remains constant. Just 20 percent of respondents in the latest survey report checking in online while 21 percent reported doing so in the 2004 survey.
Use of technology continues at the airport, where some four in ten (39 percent) business travelers report they use self-service kiosks to check in and get boarding passes. When these respondents were asked why they prefer kiosks, 66 percent said it is more convenient than working with a live agent.
“Consumers today go online to arrange travel the same way they do to bank, shop and chat with friends,” said Alex Cruz, partner in Accenture’s Transportation & Travel Services practice. “The smartest companies in the travel industry will make meeting their customers’ demands for online services a top priority not only to satisfy their guests but to help cut operating costs and improve efficiency.”
In terms of business travelers’ experiences in hotels, 58 percent said their preferred hotel does not recognise them as frequent customers, 15 percent reported their preferred hotel recognises them but does not offer special services and 17 percent said their preferred hotel recognises them and some of their basic preferences.
“Hotels need to tap into their customer information and use it to gain insight into guest preferences and trends as well as ways to create strong loyalty among their most profitable customers, which oftentimes is the business traveler,” said Cruz.
As Accenture’s previous surveys have shown, cost is almost always a concern for respondents, and nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of respondents in the most recent survey expect their use of low-cost air carriers to remain the same or increase in the next six months. More than three-quarters (76 percent) said they would increase their usage of these carriers if there were more flights into main airports. Almost half (49 percent) reported having used major carriers, compared to 54 percent in the previous survey in February.
Other key findings of the survey include:
Price trumps location for hotels. As has been true in the past, survey respondents report price as the top influencer in choosing a hotel. Price is followed by proximity to business activity, service from staff and brand or reputation of the hotel.
Mid-range hotels still popular. While more business travelers are staying in budget chain hotels (35 percent vs. 11 percent in 2003), 50 percent of this year’s respondents report using mid-range chains.
Maintenance-related delays still a problem. In a trend that has remained constant since the 2004 survey, more than one-third (37 percent) of respondents have experienced maintenance-related travel delays or cancellations in the past six months.
Not planning ahead when booking flights. While booking ahead has been promoted as a way get to better fares, only 28 percent of UK business travelers report booking airfare more than 14 days in advance while just 24 percent book 8-14 days ahead. Making arrangements 2-7 days in advance was the most common response with 39 percent.
The web-based survey of 410 U.K. business travelers who traveled more than 250 miles in the last six months was fielded in August 2005.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 123,000 people in 48 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$15.55 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2005. Its home page is www.accenture.com