A Prescription for Dealing With Open Bookingby Fred Gebhart /
TMCs are responding to the move to open booking with new approaches aimed at satisfying both traveler demands for flexible booking programs and corporate travel managers requests for better management of travel behavior.
BCD Travel is considering new business models and its client Salesforce.com has proposed replacing transaction fees with per-traveler fees, The Beat reported. But Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) has a different approach.
The company believes if you can’t beat rogue travelers—those who stray outside the bounds of travel policy when booking and buying travel—then join them.
CWT is identifying new technologies to capture booking and travel data from transactions made outside preferred supplier networks. It said that although none of the technologies are perfect, they enable a growing number of rogue transactions and data to be integrated into managed travel programs.
CWT also expects that the more complete data from rogue travelers will show travel managers and travelers themselves that open booking promises more than it can deliver.
“Consumerization is happening in business travel,” David Moran, CWT executive vice president, Enterprise Strategy, told Travel Market Report.
“Corporate travelers are looking for the same experience they have when they shop personally, when they travel for the company,” Moran said. “We are all getting more requests for better technology on the corporate side, a more intuitive experience.”
A more consumer-like experience
A CWT Travel Management Institute report, “Where Now for Managed Travel? Rogue Spend, New Booking Technologies and the Future of Business Travel Programs,” found that the desire for a more intuitive, consumer-like experience drives about two-thirds of rogue travelers to shop and buy outside policy, Moran said.
The other third are looking for better deals online than they can find within the bounds of policy.
The report combined questionnaire responses from 149 travel managers, an online survey of 469 corporate travelers and travel arrangers, client transaction analyses, interviews and case studies.
Companies with relaxed booking guidelines are well aware of why their travelers are jumping policy bounds.
Most of the travel managers who told CWT they have relaxed their travel policies or are looking at doing so, said the change was designed to increase traveler satisfaction.
However, 87% of travel managers surveyed by CWT, said they had no interest or intention of venturing into open booking. Only 9% said they favored unmanaged travel compared to 62% who are against the idea.
“We can’t deny that travelers want more flexibility,” Moran said. “We have to work with our channel partners to build a better mousetrap. Everybody is trying to get there.”
The need to be flexible
Open booking means a loss of transaction fees, but TMCs can no longer afford to be sticklers.
When travel managers were focused on compliance a few years ago, TMCs could get away with declining to serve travelers who booked outside policy. Not today.
“We have to service the market in the way the market wants to be serviced,” Moran said.
“We want to service the customer whether or not a transaction happens for us,” he added. “Any options travelers book, we need to be able to capture and track that data and that traveler. No matter where they book, clients still need to be served.”
Next time: New technology helps TMCs capture rogue travelers