Business travel agents should drop all traditional marketing methods and concentrate their efforts online.

Tony Stone, chairman of the Advantage Focus partnership panel and special projects consultant for Co-operative Travel Management, said: “Your biggest marketing tool is your website. Invest in nothing else and you will make money.”

Companies should prioritise optimising their sites for search engines, he added.

“You need to be in the top five or six [of selections] on major search engines, but don’t go for pay-per-click deals. You can do a month’s work on search-engine optimisation for less than the cost of a sales rep on the road.”

Wayte Travel Management managing director Chris Morris said: “We’ve not spent a penny on traditional advertising since setting up a website six years ago.”

Having attracted users, it is important to get information from them quickly. Stone said: “Don’t make people write an essay. Ask five questions that must not take more than a minute to answer. And use free-phone numbers. They are not expensive.”

He also advised business travel agents to tender for contracts electronically. “More and more small and medium-size companies are going in for tendering and you can’t ignore it,” said Stone.