Employees today have the world in the palm of their hands. In some ways, this makes the travel manager’s job easier, but it can also make it more complicated. For example, mobile devices give employees greater access to suppliers, making it easier to book direct and out of channel. Out-of-channel means out-of-view, so direct bookings are invisible to your travel program until they appear for reimbursement.
Can travel programs keep up?
According to the GBTA report, 37% of hotel reservations, and 15% of air reservations are invisible – made directly with suppliers or through online travel agencies. Perhaps surprisingly, these percentages remain the same between companies with flexible travel policies and companies with strict travel policies. So, no matter your policy type, supplier-direct bookings are a cause for concern. Today, 80% of travel programs do not use technology to capture supplier-direct bookings. Showing that current methods are not keeping up with the continued rise of supplier-direct bookings.
What’s driving the rise in supplier-direct bookings?
Generations expert Ryan Jenkins points out that by 2025 millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. But, it’s not just millennials that are driving this rise in supplier-direct bookings.
- Convenience: People prefer booking travel where it’s easiest for them. Mobile self-service tools make booking travel simple.
- Low-cost carriers and discounts: Relatively new low-cost carriers, and carriers that offer discounts for direct bookings, entice employees to book outside their corporate booking tool.
- The sharing economy: Since they offer the ease of use and differentiated customer experiences travelers demand, the use of sharing economy apps like Uber and AirBnb is bleeding over into business travel.
Taking control of supplier-direct bookings
Bring supplier-direct bookings into view by including them into your travel program. This can be done by automatically capturing direct bookings from connected suppliers, or encouraging employees to send their booking information.
Bringing direct bookings under management gives you the ability to always know where your employees are and add invisible spend back into your sum of total-supplier spend, which helps when it comes time for rate negotiations. Other benefits include increased policy compliance, improved duty of care, increased savings, and better data.