Thursday 25 January 2018

GUEST BLOG: Off-Channel Bookings: How to Manage What You Can't See

Off-channel bookings continue to be a source of great headaches amongst corporate travel managers, and with that activity continuing to grow, those headaches won’t abate anytime soon.  A recent GBTA survey of European companies shows that approximately seven out of 10 travellers booked some component of their trip outside their official booking channel in the past year -- a statistic that, anecdotally, may even be understated.

But chances are, you already knew that -- and it’s one of the reasons you’re attending this conference.  What to do about it?

Data accessibility has quickly become one of the hottest topics in any discussion of travel management strategies, particularly as it relates to risk management and duty of care.  

New, truly automated solutions for capturing this off-channel data as it occurs are gaining traction with corporate clients across both the enterprise and mid-market sector. Offerings like Traxo FILTER, which automatically detects confirmation emails for virtually any off-channel bookings as they occur and distributes that data to the company’s risk management, expense, and travel management company (TMC) providers, and Concur’s TripLink, which import details from a traveler’s linked supplier account for nearly a dozen suppliers, go a long way toward filling in the gaps is program data visibility in a timely manner.

Figure 1 Travel Managers’ Top 3 Most Time-Consuming Activities
“…with 57% of travel managers citing travel data analysis to track program performance as one of their top-three most time-consuming activities, the problem is compounding with new supplier-direct booking.” 

Alternatively, traditional techniques for sourcing this data have relied heavily on time-consuming manual labour: either the travel manager having to manually reconcile data from their TMC(s), credit card(s), and expense management application(s), and/or the traveller having to remember to forward in copies of their off-channel confirmation emails in a timely manner.  Rarely is this data captured early enough in the travel lifecycle to be of any meaningful use for duty of care, compliance enforcement, or budget forecasting.

Testing out these new automated solutions can provide a travel manager with low-risk way to gain a wealth of new data points to help inform all aspects of their programme - from supplier negotiations to policy compliance to vendor selection.  For example, one of our clients, a boutique consultancy with a global client base, uncovered some particularly insightful details about their off-channel activity:  they assumed most of their off-channel hotel activity was going directly to supplier websites, given that their consultants are typically required to book their clients’ corporate rate directly with the property; however, data showed a fair amount of activity going to online travel agencies (OTAs) like Kayak,, and, as well as AirBnB, pointing to opportunity to bring that activity back into their managed program.

With the availability of new technology solutions for tracking this “leakage” activity, there is no need to keep flying blind when it comes to managing your travel program.  Push your TMCs, expense management solutions, and duty of care providers to help you corral this data, and look into other solution suites on offer for corporate clients to bring this off-channel data back in house, where it ultimately belongs – because you can’t manage what you can’t see.

This blog was posted by Cara Whitehill, Chief Commercial Officer for Traxo, who is exhibiting at the Business Travel Show next month. Please register for your free visitor pass at

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