The concept of open bookings is a frequently discussed topic in the travel industry, but it can often be referred to in different ways: invisible bookings, program leakage, open booking, rogue travelers, invisible travel spend, rogue booking, etc. They all generally mean the same thing – travelers booking outside of your program.
Unfortunately, 40-50% of employee travel is booked outside of corporate travel systems, according to Phocuswright’s U.S. Business Traveler: Managed, Unmanaged, and Rogue 2012 report.
Short’s also conducted an internal survey with current clients who use a third party online booking tool. When asked where they would prefer to book their business travel, 51.7% of survey respondents indicated they would choose to book outside the booking tool if permitted.
We know it’s happening in travel programs all across the world and of all sizes, but why is it happening?
Short’s analyzed results from an IATA Global Passenger Survey, which questioned its respondents on why they were not completely satisfied with their current booking solution.
56% indicated they can find lower fares and better rates online, 35% prefer to book travel directly with their favorite suppliers, 30% felt the process is complicated and takes too long, 24% because it does not deliver their personal flight preferences, and more.
If travelers aren’t satisfied with the solution they’re provided, they will typically find an alternative solution. With the accessibility of flights and hotels online today, it’s easier than ever for travelers to book elsewhere. But why is it so important for bookings to be made through the managed travel program?
The number one benefit is savings. Your travelers can utilize negotiated rates through your travel program. And by pulling in more of your bookings, you’ll also have increased leverage to negotiate for future agreements.
2. Unused tickets
If travelers are booking outside the program, they won’t be notified of any unused tickets they may have with certain airlines, which of course translates to missed opportunities in savings. Whereas corporate booking solutions today will typically alert the traveler within the booking process to ensure the unused ticket does not go to waste.
3. Policy control
If your travelers are booking outside of your managed program, you have no control on the types of fares or rooms they’re booking, and you’re unable to utilize pre-trip approval processes.
4. Traveler Tracking
By pulling the bookings into your program, you’ll know where your travelers are, which is essential to duty of care obligations.
So what’s the solution?
There’s not just one solution to alleviate the issue of travelers booking outside of your program. First, there is the option to simply accept it. It might not be the primary concern of your program at this time. Second, don’t allow it. You can mandate or implement stricter policies that force your travelers to book through your program. Or finally, you can find a happy medium and offer an alternative booking solution.
Short’s Travel offers an alternative booking option through, FindIt, our proprietary open search solution. FindIt allows you to search at 29 air and 22 hotel consumer sites, and with one click, pull the booking into your TMC. It’s the traveler-centric approach you’ve been looking for. Want more information? Check out our website www.shortstravelmanagement.com/findit or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Kayla Marshall