The Impact of Open Bookings on Spend Reporting | for Business

25% of the travel buyers we surveyed said that direct bookings and rogue travellers are a key challenge of theirs. Maybe it’s a challenge for you too?

It’s a common topic in the travel industry, not least because of the fine line between a managed open booking policy and business travellers simply ignoring your policy.

In 2012, PhoCusWright research stated that “40% of managed travelers don’t always comply with their company’s bookings channel policy.” (U.S. Business Traveler: Managed, Unmanaged and Rogue, PhoCusWright)

This statement implies that direct bookings were/are an issue, the key word being ‘comply’ as it indicates these travellers are breaking set rules.

Fast forward and this is partly the debate in the travel industry today, whether open bookings are an opportunity or a threat.

With a quarter of our surveyed travel buyers seeing rogue travellers as a challenge, it’s interesting to see some travel managers embracing open bookings as part of their policy with Business Travel Direct arguing that it’s the “next logical, evolutionary step in our industry.”

The real impact of open bookings on spend reporting

The real impact of open bookings comes with spend reporting and the visibility of data. Already seen as a challenge, over a quarter of surveyed travel buyers said that reporting spend to management is an issue.

Data consolidation for reporting is difficult enough, but when the data isn’t readily available, your job is made even harder.

Fortunately, there is a solution to lost visibility and consolidating data for spend reporting.

The Solution

Effectively, it’s all about bringing the data into one place.

Rather than trying to completely stop business travellers from using an open booking method, try embracing the idea in a regulated way.

To get this absolutely right, you might have to think about why people choose to book outside the travel policy in the first place;

  • they have a particular preference for flight or hotel booking websites;
  • they’re more inclined to turn to their own smartphone or tablet to make bookings;
  • they may be part of a loyalty scheme that earns them rewards for additional bookings;
  • they believe they can find a better deal.

It’s then possible to build some of these elements into your travel management program.

You can then implement a system that enables the business to retain visibility of travel spend while an open booking policy is in place.

Such systems usually ask that the traveller forwards confirmation of their bookings to a designated email address, which captures data from hotels, flights and ground transportation, regardless of where the travel expense was incurred. Approval processes for large spend are also available.

This solution results in transparency so you can easily report spend back to management and finance, but it also allows the travellers the flexibility that might come with an open booking policy. It is a way to overcome the impact that open bookings have on spend reporting.