Consumer-grade technology provided by Expedia’s travel management arm Egencia is driving online adoption to market-leading levels, the firm claims.
Speaking at last week’s Expedia partner conference in Las Vegas, Rob Greyber, president of Egencia, claimed it achieves 90% online adoption compared to around 45% among many of its big competitors.
“We have seen clients come to us with 40% adoption and within weeks it will jump to 60% or 70% and climb from there,” said Greyber.
“If you look at the technology available to traditional business travel consultants, or call centre agents, travel arranges or travellers themselves, it been primarily GDS-based.
“Technology, we believe, should make people better at their jobs but for the travel arranger the technology is holding them back.
“It’s no surprise to me that some will go and check out Expedia or hotels.com. You’d expect that if you have not invested in the kind of experiences that have evolved on the consumer side.
“We do not see that at Egencia because we have a booking experience for the travel arranger that looks and works and feels just like what they experience on Expedia but is still within travel policy.”
Greyber said Egencia has booked $6.7 billion worth of travel in the last four quarters and now offers over 300,000 hotels on the platform globally.
In the third quarter of 2017 it brought in $385 million worth of new clients. Egencia now counts itself as the fourth largest global TMC with a presence in 65 countries either direct or through its global alliance.
Greyber said having built its business among the SME sector, Egencia has driven accelerated organic growth through developing “pretty remarkable” traction among global corporates.
“Having a global technology platform that we own and drive innovation on has been an important differentiator for us.
“It’s all about how the super computers in our pockets are changing the world. This is a business travel solution for the Expedia generation.”
Greyber said all indications are that the business travellers remain fairly resilient with 70% saying in a recent survey they enjoy travelling for work and see it as a perk.
“Professionally and personally it’s a great experience. We see millennials having experiences while travelling for business.
“There’s lots of change, lots of differentiation in supplier experiences. It’s a challenging environment but the resilience is remarkable.”
One of the key trends Expedia is seeing is the rise of bleisure, blended work and leisure trips, as corporate travellers tag on extra time around their business trip.
Paulo Cunha, vice president, global retail and business development at Hotels.com, said52% of travellers to the US combine leisure and business travel.
And he said 46% of corporate travellers stay in the same hotel for the leisure portion of their trip as for business.
Cunha said bleisure travellers often look to book tickets for local sporting, music or cultural events and he encouraged hotels to make this information available to bookers.
He said these travellers will typically make a decision about what to do close to travel – around four weeks before departure – and consult events sites and then OTAs to find out what to do.