Amadeus Says Self-Booking Glitches Bode Well for TMCs
About two-thirds of travelers can book themselves online, according to a study from Amadeus, and a third can use a mobile or tablet device to do it. The good news for TMCs is that 37% of travelers had to rebook flights while they were on the road last year and only a third of them were happy with the way the change was handled. If TMCs beef up their own online and mobile offerings, they have a strong opportunity to beat online travel agencies and carrier websites.
Another key opportunity for TMCs: offer leisure travel services for the third of business travelers who would like to extend a business trip for personal pleasure. Half of business travelers who said they would like to add personal time to business trips said they would like to have leisure travel information provided through the same channels as business travel info. And with the same TMC providing both business and leisure travel info, it should be simple to segregate company costs from personal expenses.
Higher Hotel Rates Boost Traveler Expectations
Increasing demand and minimal increase in supply has led to widespread increases in hotel rates. But road warriors are not turning a blind eye to rate hikes. Travelers are looking at more than rate when it comes to picking a property. If they have to pay more, they expect more value in return.
Travelers “will make their choice not just on the rate, but on the value for the rate,” said Eric Danziger, chief executive officer of Wyndham Hotel Group during a USA Today roundtable at the recent Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles. “You’d better have Internet, it better work, it better be fast, those sorts of things. The consumer will go next door if you don’t have what they want for what they’re paying”
International Rates to Outpace Domestic Price Hikes
Whatever happens with the federal budget, travel managers are feeling their own squeeze. Corporate travel buyers are expecting domestic air fares to increase by 4.6% this year and international fares to jump 8.3%. Hotel increases should follow the same pattern with domestic rates up 3.7% and international rates up 8%. But buyers told the Global Business Travel Association that they expect a 2.9% increase in travel budgets. More effective travel management may be the last best hope for travel managers to keep the lid on costs.
OTA Satisfaction Drops
Does a recent drop in customer satisfaction with OTAs mean trouble for open booking? It’s too early to tell, but the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index shows a 2.6% drop for online travel, the steepest drop seen across the entire survey. OTA satisfaction fell even as satisfaction for the broader online commerce rose by 1.2%. It’s not that OTAs are performing worse, it’s that customers are expecting more. The growing ease and popularity of mobile platform bookings makes online bookings seem old-fashioned and sluggish. If Travel 2.0 programs focus on mobile booking products, they may ride a continuing wave of customer satisfaction.
Bar Set Higher on Flight Upgrades
Business travel is expected to top $100 billion this year for the first time since the recession. But the increase in spend has more to do with rising travel costs than a return to what now seem like the good old days of 2007. More companies are setting higher bars for flight upgrades, according to Bob Bindley, principal for Advito, the consulting side of BCD Travel. The typical company is keeping road warriors in economy for eight hours, less than the ten-hour upgrade threshold of a year or two ago, but longer than the six hours common pre-recession. And that’s when upgrades are allowed at all. T-Systems International, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, has decreed that everyone in the North American division flies in the back of the plane, including the C suite.
Do the Right Thing
“Duty of care and risk management aren’t just legal requirements, they are the right thing to do for your employees. Are you going to tell your people they can’t do something on a trip to Manchester like bungee jumping because it’s not safe and then tell them it’s perfectly safe to leap off a tower in Manila because it is beyond the reach of local legislation?” – John Hooker, president, John Hooker Consultancy Practice
Best Business Seats in the Air
Worth magazine, which styles itself a spokesmag for the upwardly rich and mobile, has released its annual list of the Top 10 Seats in Business Class. The only US carrier to make the list, Delta, came in at number nine. Here’s the list: Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Etihad Airways, Air France, Delta Air Lines and Korean Air.
Travelers Would Rather Drink Calories than Burn Them
Health and fitness is all the rage. Maybe – but not for business travelers. A new survey from Four Points by Sheraton says that while staying at a hotel, 43% of business travelers would rather hang out at a restaurant or bar. That handily beats fitness centers (40%), spa (38%) or shopping (34%). And while business travelers tend to be social types – 64% have kept in contact with someone they met on the road – strangers are more interesting than colleagues. Over 60% of business travelers surveyed said they would rather fly alone than with coworkers. The survey polled 6,000 business travelers from Brazil, China, Germany, India, the UK and the US.
Hyatt Courts Female Travelers
Hyatt Hotels Corp. has rolled out a new set of guest enhancements based on 18 months of consumer research and more than 40 facilitated focus groups around the world. The company take: the changes are based on preferences and insights from women, but all guests will benefit. New offerings include:
• Communication cards that let housekeepers personally confirm room cleaning as a way to encourage guest feedback and communication.
• Hyatt Has It, a service offering essentials like phone charger, curling iron, steamer, yoga mat, makeup remover wipes and razor to keep, borrow or buy.
• New menu options with fresh juices and smoothies, more balanced portions and “create your own” options.
• Upgraded bath amenities across all Hyatt brands.