About one-third of all corporate trips will be purchased online this year, according to projections by the research firm PhoCusWright. Together, the three major online agencies now claim a bit less than a 10 percent market share, a number that PhoCusWright expects to grow to 15 percent by 2008.

That may be good news for business executives who like to book travel online, but it is scaring some corporate travel managers.

For employees who oversee corporate travel programs, the growing online competition is the most unsettling challenge to their livelihood since the introduction of computer reservations systems in the 1960s. It also promises to be a hot topic at the four-day National Business Travel Association annual convention in San Diego that ends Wednesday.

Online travel management companies, which say they save companies money by introducing more automation to the travel booking and reporting process than traditional agencies, have already snagged big-name clients like Aetna, McDonald's, Harvard and Starbucks. By joining the exodus, Akamai says it has reduced its cost for each travel purchase to about $5 from $50 to $80 and cut airfare expenses by 30 percent.

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