The Challenge of Direct Booking

Concur has been committed to improving corporate travel for more than two decades. In collaboration with clients, suppliers, technology partners and TMCs, we aspire to make things easier for travelers travel managers. Throughout our 22-year history, our success has stemmed from considering not just today’s problems, but tomorrow’s as well. We run to where the ball is going, not to where it is right now.


We do a lot of work to gain that kind of insight: engaging with customers, partnering with key players in the industry, and investing in research. This month, we’ve completed some research that surprised us. We partnered with GBTA on two studies about European business travel—one that focuses on how corporate buyers and business travelers see TMCs of the future, and another that looks at behavior from the business traveler’s perspective.



The data clearly shows the incredible transformation happening in global business travel today: unprecedented changes in traveler behavior, business complexity, and technology innovations—demands that present new challenges in how we deliver value. The studies give us considerable insight into what business travelers in the UK, Germany and France believe about their travel policies and how they are booking. Take a look at what we found out about direct booking:  


  • 39% of business travelers in the UK, 33% in France, and 35% of business travelers in Germany have booked direct with a supplier in the last year
  • 62% to 84% of business travelers in the UK, France and Germany say their company actually allows direct booking of air and hotel in some situations
  • 29-52% of business travelers say their company allows direct booking of air and hotel in many situations or always

These numbers are far larger than we’d expected to find in Europe. Travelers tell us they are booking direct to take advantage of better pricing, loyalty points and status, more selection, upgrades and convenience.


It’s clear that direct bookings are here to stay. As suppliers continue to invest in their direct experiences and offer incentives to travelers to book direct, we think this number will likely go up, not down, regardless of travel policy.

That is a very big problem.



It’s one our industry needs to solve, if only because of all the things that can breakdown when a traveler books direct. How do we live up to our duty of care responsibility if we don’t know where these travelers are? How do we apply and enforce our travel policy? How do we realize corporate discounts?



We are not content with solutions and services that don’t work on more than one third of travel bookings—why would our customers be? As an industry, we need to continuously evolve to stay relevant and deliver value.



In my next blog post on the topic, I’ll discuss what we see as the solution.



Learn more about Concur TripLink.  


Tim MacDonald​ leads the company’s T&E Cloud initiatives such as fostering an ecosystem of partners to create value for clients, their employees and the travel suppliers who support them as well as developing Concur's data science capability and product offering. Mr. MacDonald’s travel industry experience prior to Concur includes senior vice president & general manager of Expedia US, chairman and president of luxury travel provider Classic Vacations and vice president of product management at Hotwire.


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