Published on Friday, April 21, 2006

ITM poll questions self-booking tool growth

A “worrying lack of understanding” has been identified amongst business travel buyers of self-booking tools and how to implement them effectively.


Figures from the Institute of Travel Management suggest that just 13% of business travel expenditure is being captured by SBTs.


The ITM survey – the third to be carried out by the association’s panel

of business travel buyers - questions recent industry projections that self-booking tools will capture 80% of all transactions within 18 months.


The survey also found that many self-booking tool implementations have fallen well short of buyers’ expectations, with a quarter of respondents reporting that the introduction had no quantifiable effect on levels of traveller compliance with corporate travel policies.


ITM executive director Paul Tilstone said: “The determining factors in selecting

a SBT are fairly evenly spread. Usability (80%) and reducing travel costs at

the point of sale (70%) are buyers’ main priorities.


“However, only 15% estimated that even a 10% saving on their annual travel spend had been achieved since introducing an SBT. Forty-five per cent said that it was too early to judge.”


The ITM said the role – or lack thereof - of the TMC in the self-booking tool

specification and implementation processes is also highlighted in the

research. Fifty-five per cent of buyers who have implemented an SBT did so independently of their TMC.


“This seems completely at odds with the marketing message from TMCs,” said Tilstone. “Travel Management Companies position themselves as procurement consultants and process experts, yet over half are either excluded by their clients - or exclude themselves. A further 10% of clients involve their TMCs in the specification process but not the procurement.


“There seems to be a complete disconnect between the buyer, the TMC and the

SBT provider.”


Colin Goldney, managing director of ITM research partner Argate Consulting, believes this reflects a lack of understanding amongst both buyers and TMC’s.


“There seems to be a real lack of interest amongst many TMCs in understanding the full benefits to the corporate of a self-booking tool.


“All too often the account manager passes the buck to a dedicated expert within their TMC because he or she lacks the very knowledge the buyer requires. Buyers are also guilty of this lack of knowledge, employing external consultants to manage a changer process largely because they do not understand self-booking tools themselves.”


Tilstone added: “The attitude of buyers and suppliers towards SBT’s is symptomatic of human nature where technology is concerned.


“How many of us use even a 10th of the functionality of our PCs, iPODs or whatever? More than a few of us are guilty of adopting technology without either understanding how it works, the potential benefits and how to use that technology most effectively.”


Report by Phil Davies 


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  • ITM Survey extends across globe

    I would just like to respond to Crystele's valid question regarding whether the ITM Research was undertaken across British business only. Whilst all respondents are members of ITM residing in businesses in the UK, there is significant global coverage relating to their responses. As follows:- Ireland only - 3% UK & Ireland only - 40 % EMEA - 27% Global - 30% In addition, with reference to her question of what the other 85% are achieving in terms of savings, this is spread widely across responses from "it's too early to tell" and "none" right the way through to a small number of respondents who indicated savings of up to 50%. This disparity supports the present view that whilst the tool is important it is company culture and the process of managing change which ultimately determines adoption and savings. For a full ITM Research report contact ITM Secretariat at [email protected]

    By Paul Tilstone, Tuesday, April 25, 2006

  • 2nd Tier TMCs need to embrace SBT

    From our research on global travel management trends, the lack of integration of SBTs with their TMCs seems to be more pronounced at the second tier TMC level (below the megas). Overall Europe is behind in SBT adoption and thus this disconnect between TMC and SBT selection is part of an evolutionary step rather than a discrediting of the value of SBTs.

    By nrose, Sunday, April 23, 2006

  • ITM report is more positive than it seems

    ITM says that ‘just’ 13 percent of (presumably British) business travel spend is being captured by online corporate travel booking tools (OCBTs). My view is that this is a significant percentage – and probably more than we would have dared think possible in any European country until fairly recently. Third-party confirmation that online corporate travel booking tools have broken through the double-digit bookings share barrier in the UK is significant news indeed. This proves what we have held to be true for so long – that these tools are viable and are steadily taking a more significant role in the UK corporate travel arena. I agree with Paul Tilstone that usability and reducing travel costs at the point of sale are buyers' main priorities. This echoes our experience. However, I do challenge the implication in the article above that only 15 percent of users are seeing a 10 percent saving on their annual travel spend since introducing an OCBT. Does this mean that 85 percent have seen a more significant saving?! Certainly our own figures show that our customers regularly achieve savings of more than 15 percent on ticket price, and as much as 50 percent on TMC management fees. On top of this the system helps corporations enforce corporate travel policy and leverage this to achieve more favourable negotiated rates from travel suppliers. I thought it very interesting that over half of all TMCs are either excluded by their clients, or exclude themselves, from the online corporate travel booking tool selection process. Despite the fact that TMCs are increasingly embracing the OCBT concept (GetThere is now offered to corporations by three major global TMCs) it shows that the corporates are still very much in the driving seat. Crystele Erdmann GetThere

    By Crystele Erdmann, Friday, April 21, 2006

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