In Human vs. Machine, CWT Study Finds Two-Thirds of Travelers Prefer Machines When Booking Air Travel

Human vs. Machine - Business travellers choose technology over people when booking travel and managing trip disruptions (Graphic: Business Wire)

MINNEAPOLIS--()--Research by CWT, the B2B4E travel management platform, shows that travelers prefer to manage their travel transactions digitally, via an app or browser.

69% of business travelers prefer to book their flights digitally rather than have human interactions. That continues to rise for hotel reservations (78%), ground transportation (71%), and checking-in for flights (68%). However, travelers 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 travelers are more likely to choose technology over personal contact – 73% prefer to book their flights digitally, versus 71% of Americas travelers and 61% of Europeans. Meanwhile, 84% of Asia Pacific travelers prefer to book hotels digitally, versus 77% of those from the Americas, and 70% of Europeans.

When it comes to checking in for their flights, travelers from the Americas are most inclined to use technology over personal contact: 73% said they prefer technology, versus 66% of Europeans and 65% of Asia Pacific travelers.

Smartphones Catching Up With Computer Screens

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 travelers claim to get help from a person.

The data reveals that European travelers are most inclined to book their travel on a desktop or laptop (55%), followed by travelers from the Americas (49%) and travelers from Asia Pacific (36%).

In contrast, 53% of travelers in Asia Pacific prefer to book travel on their smartphones, compared to 40% of Americas’ travelers and only 26% of Europeans. European travelers are most inclined to use their tablets (16%) or speak to a person (3%) than travelers from the Americas and Asia Pacific, who both scored 9% and 2% respectively.

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

The study also revealed that eight out of ten business travelers 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 travelers from the Americas answering “five times or more,” they beat Europeans (26%) and Asia Pacific travelers (22%).

“The modern business traveler 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.”

About the survey

The survey was created by CWT and conducted by Artemis Strategy Group between 29 January and 9 February, 2019. Responses were collected from more than 2,700 business travelers who traveled for business four or more times in the previous 12 months. Respondents were from the Americas (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the United States), Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK), and Asia Pacific (Australia, China, India, Japan, and Singapore).

About CWT

CWT is a Business-to-Business-for-Employees (B2B4E) travel management platform. Companies and governments rely on us to keep their people connected – anywhere, anytime, anyhow – and across six continents, we provide their employees with innovative technology and an efficient, safe and secure travel experience. Every single day, we look after enough travelers to fill more than 100,000 hotel rooms, while our meetings and events division handles more than 100 events every 24 hours.

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About Artemis Strategy Group

Artemis Strategy Group is a communications research firm specializing in brand positioning, thought leadership and policy issues.


Alistair Hammond, Global Director of Media Relations
T: +44 203 353 1454 / M: +44 771 773 0441


Alistair Hammond, Global Director of Media Relations
T: +44 203 353 1454 / M: +44 771 773 0441