Why business travelers need both human and digital support to plan a trip

More than half of business pros rely on a hybrid approach of human and digital solutions when traveling for work, according to Travelport.

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The rise of automation and digitization is transforming the way professionals travel, from planning stages of the trip to the physical experience of it. Now, workers are increasingly turning to a hybrid approach to travel—one that involves both digital and human support, according to a Travelport report released on Tuesday.

The report surveyed more than 8,000 business travelers across 25 countries to determine what tools and strategies they used most to plan and execute business trips. Some 66% of travelers in the US said they still use recommendations from travel professionals when making trip choices. But 57% of respondents said they also use their smartphones to plan some portion of their trips.

SEE: Business pro's guide to hassle-free travel (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

More than half (58%) of business travelers worldwide said a hybrid approach is "very important" when planning travel, the report found. One popular hybrid solution is the Live Chat function on travel sites, which combines both automation and human customer service to help a customer in real-time.

"This research has highlighted the need for a blend of digital and offline solutions, as travelers are increasingly turning to travel agents when they have complex issues and real-time digital solutions for more straight-forward or immediate support and information," Simon Ferguson, Travelport's president and managing director for the Americas, said in a press release. "This is only going to escalate in importance as business travelers seek ever more convenient ways to improve their travel experiences."

When selecting an airline, nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents cited a good digital experience as "very important," the report found. Some 70% said it was also very important to be able to see their complete trip itinerary in one place on a travel app, and 68% said real-time flight alerts through an app were very important as well.

Many business travelers (49%) in the US still prefer using face-to-face conversations or calls with a human representative to find travel solutions, the report said. This indicates a preference toward humans on a customer-service front, but a preference toward the digital during the planning process.

To learn more about how automation powers business travel, check out this TechRepublic article.

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Image: iStockphoto/jacoblund

By Macy Bayern

Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.