But did you know that using the internet to book travel isn’t a recent concept? Online booking has been around for at least 20 years, beginning in an era when the web was still fairly new – the 1990s. But it appears to have started by accident.The first hotel booking website
Launched in 1994 by a small team working for The Hotel Industry Switch Company, Travelweb.com was the first online hotel booking website
ever. And it wasn’t created with the same intentions as today’s booking websites (to make money for the business and provide better deals to customers). Travelweb.com started out as a simple way to share what the company did behind the scenes.
Just a year later, a business called Internet Travel Network facilitated the very first internet airline booking for a one-way flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas. This spawned the era of online booking we know today. And it didn’t take long for booking websites to replace traditional travel agents.
Here are four ways the internet has transformed the world of business travel: 1. The internet gave businesses access to a bigger market
It wasn’t long before a plethora of booking websites started showing up on the internet
, working hard to capture the attention of people all over the world. Like one of the first fare comparison websites – FareChase – in 1999.
The ability to book hotels and flights online was a welcomed convenience for business travellers all over the world. They no longer had to contact a travel agent, visit an airport, or make a phone call to book their trips.
Being able to book online was great, but when companies began offering fare comparisons for major hotels and airlines to save people money, it was an absolute game-changer. 2. The internet allows for lower rates
Because the internet automates a booking process that once required a full-time staff, companies are able to cut their costs dramatically. This means they can pass these savings onto the customer in the form of lower fares. But that doesn’t mean they always will. In fact, unless the market demands it, they probably won’t.
Thanks to the fact that consumers can now perform a side-by-side comparison between major airlines and hotels to find the lowest rate, companies know they need to offer competitive prices if they want to make the sale. 3. The internet provides access to insider information
Everyone knows that airfare prices can be arbitrary and that airlines love to charge more for flights during holidays and weekends, while they have no problem selling tickets for their empty seats at half price a few days before the flight. Prior to the internet, unless you or a family member worked in the airline industry, it was impossible to consistently get a good deal because nobody knew what their strategy was.
Because the internet has evolved into a platform for expression, one of the most valuable resources available are airline insiders who are ecstatic about sharing their industry secrets with the public. For example, without these insiders, we’d never know that airlines post new deals on Tuesdays
or that Wednesday departures are the cheapest.
In a video published on the Huffington Post, hotel industry expert Jacob Tomsky shares his hotel booking tips
that include a brilliant way to get out of last-minute cancellation fees. Tomsky says all you need to do is call the front desk and tell them you need to push out your reservation to next week. Then call back the next day and speak to someone different and request a cancellation to avoid any fees. 4. The internet will pay you for saving your company money
Just because your travel expenses are paid for by your company, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be frugal. Your boss would probably appreciate you not spending every last penny of the budget you’re given.
If you need more incentive to be frugal on your business trips, check out Rocketrip, a company that actually pays employees for finding ways to travel cheaply
. Although the way it works is a bit complex and begins by earning points, you basically get $1 for every $2 you save your company. More competition means lower prices
The evolution of the internet has created a mutual benefit between business travellers, airlines, and hotels. And we’re probably going to see even more booking websites in the future. In the travel industry, more competition means lower prices to meet the demands of travellers. For this reason, the future of business travel looks extremely bright.