May 28, 2024

Nearly half of buyers say their OBT is not fit for purpose

Nearly half of travel managers say their existing online booking tool (OBT) is not ‘fit for purpose’ in the current environment, according to  a survey by ITM.

The poll of more than 60 ITM buyer members found this figure rose to 57% in the mid to long term.

The survey found 75% of buyers feel that their current OBT provider is not listening to their needs.

A similar number voiced a high level of dissatisfaction with the proactiveness of their current OBT supplier to offer solutions that are important to them and 70% were very or somewhat dissatisfied with responsiveness to requests.

In terms of content, most respondents (75%) are satisfied with basic air single/return, and accommodation but 45% are dissatisfied with UK rail content and 75% are dissatisfied with EU rail content.  In terms of NDC, only 25% are satisfied with the level of content provided.

The majority of buyer members (90%) are satisfied with their OBT’s policy configuration capability and user friendliness also largely met with satisfaction (80%). 

However functionality around sustainability and traveller wellbeing still needs improvement with respondents expressing dissatisfaction (50% and 45% respectively).

Despite their concerns, 75% of buyers do not plan to change their OBT in the next 12 months.

Reasons varied from contractual obligations, recent appointment of current provider and limited internal resources to facilitate change. 

Scott Davies, CEO, ITM, said: “As travel resumes at scale and buyers look to support their TMCs’ resource challenges, it could be argued that the online booking tool is more critical than ever. Yet during numerous conversations with ITM’s buyer members, it became evident that for many there are challenges with OBTs being able to deliver on today’s post-pandemic needs for both the travel manager and the traveller. 

“As such, ITM gathered our buyer members’ feedback to present a consolidated and anonymised view of the main challenges and opportunities that exist for OBT providers. We sincerely hope that by sharing this report with OBT providers, ITM can help to drive the developments needed to overcome these challenges and meet the needs of our buyer community going forwards.”

The survey found the top five items on buyers’ OBT wish-list are: full NDC content; user-friendly interface/experience; EU/UK rail integration; better CO2 information (by aircraft cabin, hotels, comparison of air to rail); sustainability aspects/reporting.

ITM plans to share the report with OBT providers to help them them use the data to support development roadmaps and elevate their offering to address buyers’ concerns.