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Two-thirds of travellers prefer machines when booking air travel

Research by travel management platform CWT shows that business travellers prefer to manage their travel transactions digitally, via an app or browser, rather than going for human interaction.

Sixty-nine percent of business travellers responding to the CWT survey said they preferred to book their flights digitally, a figure that is even higher for hotel reservations (78%), ground transportation (71%), and checking-in for flights (68%).

However, travellers are more receptive speaking to a person face-to-face when checking into their hotel (46%) and checking out (51%).

“Technology is becoming more and more dominant in the travel ecosystem,” said Andrew Jordan, CWT’s Chief Product and Technology Officer. “Digital interactions are taking over, so the travel industry must keep evolving to offer companies and their employees the experience they want and expect.”

Overall, Asia Pacific travellers are more likely to choose technology over personal contact – 73% prefer to book their flights digitally, versus 71% of Americas travellers and 61% of Europeans. Meanwhile, 84% of Asia Pacific travellers prefer to book hotels digitally, versus 77% of those from the Americas, and 70% of Europeans.

CWT’s research also shows that a significant percentage of travel is still booked through a computer screen – 45% in 2019 versus 53% in 2018 and 52% in 2017. But smartphones are catching up: 41% in 2019 versus 34% in 2018 and 32% in 2017. Tablets rank third with 11%, while only 2% of business travellers claim to get help from a person.

When asked how they prefer to deal with disruptions or changes, 33% of travellers overall say using a mobile app is the most effective way to do so – 37% of travellers from Asia Pacific feel that way, versus 31% of travellers from the Americas and 30% of Europeans.

The study also revealed that eight out of ten business travellers have used technology instead of physically traveling for business in the past year, with a quarter using technology five or more times instead of traveling. With 29% of travellers from the Americas answering “five times or more,” they beat Europeans (26%) and Asia Pacific travellers (22%).

“The modern business traveller wants to be able to make decisions immediately at their convenience,” said Jordan. “Companies need to empower their employees to have this control and give them the needed tools, such as mobile apps, to best equip them on their journey.”

The CWT survey and conducted by Artemis Strategy Group between 29 January and 9 February, 2019. Responses were collected from more than 2,700 business travellers who travelled for business four or more times in the previous 12 months.