American business travelers want new, integrated Online services from their corporate travel agency that go beyond the simple ability to self-book air, hotel and a rental car online, according to findings of a recent survey of American business travelers commissioned by Orbitz for Business and Travelport, both subsidiaries of Cendant Corporation's Travel Distribution Services Division.

Conducted by Harris Interactive® in late February and early March, the survey sought to measure business traveler opinion of how booking and managing travel can be more productive. The survey identifies areas where innovative new services can be introduced to increase employee use and corporate savings.

Practical needs present opportunities for innovation

Survey results identified areas for new corporate travel features and functionalities, including:

- More than half (56%) of business travelers said that logistical challenges such as knowing where to go at their destination after arriving, changing travel plans on the road or finding a good place to eat were the most difficult to manage while on a business trip.

- 33% of business travelers said the ability to change, re-book and obtain travel alerts via cell phone, PDA, or Blackberry are the most valuable to making business travel as productive as possible.

- More than one-fourth (27%) of business travelers value a one-stop-shop for booking travel services beyond air, rental car and hotel -- such as event tickets, dinner reservations and others.

These results highlight the opportunity travel management companies (TMCs), online or otherwise, have if they can implement new technologies and features that fit directly into a business traveler's workflow and take advantage of familiar desktop applications and the increasing quality and use of portable electronic devices.

"By addressing the everyday business traveler's need for practical, real- time information and capabilities in a single, highly accessible service, travel management companies can dramatically raise the relevance and user satisfaction of their offerings," said Dean Sivley, chief product and marketing officer for Cendant Corporate Travel Solutions. "This translates into more productivity and more use of the automated travel program and, therefore, more savings for their company."

These types of easy-to-use, highly portable capabilities come with an increased level of customer service and responsiveness, anticipating the business traveler's needs, as well as additional time and added cost efficiency. Examples include:

- Creating robust booking and proactive customer care services via cell phone, PDA and Blackberry to aid travelers on the road.

- Booking via applications like instant messaging, e-mail and calendar programs -- eliminating the need to go to a traditional Web site.

- Booking and managing more elements of a trip in one location -- things such as restaurant reservations, event tickets, car service, international cell phones and others at the same time as booking air, car and hotel.

Time and money present challenges

Survey results also show that American business travelers expressed a number of challenges to business travel, including:

- 52% say that time away from the office or the cost of travel are the most significant challenges to making business travel useful in achieving business goals.

- 32% of business travelers employed by companies that use a travel management firm view responsiveness as the most valued service.

- More than one-quarter (29%) say that time management is the most difficult aspect of business travel.

"If business travelers are able to pre-book most elements of their trip, and have information and real-time updates pushed to them based on their preferences and itineraries, they have more time to accomplish what they need to do -- eliminating many of the difficulties associated with business travel," said Sivley. "This is something we do at Orbitz for Business with Care Alerts and at Travelport with additional traveler services integrated into our booking platforms. The survey points to additional areas for leading travel management companies to consider in delivering more value to business travelers and their companies."