The true costs of self booking travel

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self_booking.jpgShirley Le Roux, MD of TraveluXion gives SmartProcurement her take on the true cost of self booking and, in turn, what clients should be prepared to pay for ‘self-booked transactions’.

Self-booking tool vs. website booking

“One must first unbundle the concept of ‘booking on-line’,” says Le Roux.

Corporation’s transact on websites in a search of more cost effective options, albeit for leisure or corporate options - discount these type of transactions for the purpose of this discussion and focus only on business travel bookings.

Self booking for this purpose means that a company has access to a self-booking tool that enables them to preview, select, and finalise an itinerary of their choice – termed ‘online booking’. In most instances this is rolled out in conjunction with their Travel Management Company (TMC).

The clients’ specific travel policy and preferred suppliers are loaded into the self-booking tool so that a traveller is more aware and has greater visibility of options.

These transactions may be done directly by the traveller or a travel booker.

The costs involved

First step - understand and analyse the fees you are currently paying your TMC for handling all your travel requests – ‘offline bookings’ for the purpose of this discussion.

Online booking generates a lower TMC transaction fee than an offline booking: you have covered the process of quoting, selecting and finalising your transaction - reducing the workload on the TMC.

Consider which offline transactions you could effectively move to an the online process. Ringfence the offline transactions that remain and determine the fulfilment fees around these transactions.

Possible online transaction fees

As far as fullfilment is concerned, no doubt the contract with your TMC would show an online service fee.
Le Roux recommends that you further understand what happens in the instance where the booking is created online but is changed in an offline environment. What will your final cost of fulfilment be considering possible changes that may occur or additional segments that may be added to the itinerary?

Does the online technology you are utilising (or about to utilise) allow you to make the changes in the online environment throughout all stages of the booking process, before and after ticketing? Or are you required to do this offline and incur higher charges? Can you effectively measure the cost of change after your initial approval, e.g. your traveller sought initial approval for x amount, but changes his booking 3 or 4 times and the potential additional collection on the actual ticket could be zero (or it could have an amount), which is always visible, however, how much have you paid in service fees for all these changes?

Furthermore, does the self booking tool also charge a fee for usage: Passenger Name Record (PNR) fees for every PNR created on the particular self booking tool? How is this cost passed on to the Company and who is managing this cost?

Shirley_leRoux.pngWhat to do?

Have a candid discussion with your TMC.

The above steps all appear logical and should be relatively easy to manage. However, the process now becomes complicated and the company needs to ensure this is handled accurately and transparently and that all potential online and offline costs are explained at the outset.

What you may think is seemless and easy to fulfil may not be. Make sure you cover all possible travel scenarios and understand and agree on to how you are being charged.

The good news is that the TraveluXion application provides a Company with full visibility of all costs associated with transactions pre-trip, during trip and post-trip.

The solution allows various options around changes and TraveluXion will advise you on the costs around any configurable option you choice. Le Roux adds that TraveluXion’s solution does carry a cost for online booking which covers the costs levied by the provider of the self booking tool solution, is based on a created PNR and does not fluctuate or increase if amendments are made or segments are added.

With TraveluXion it’s simple: one PNR equates to one cost for the online booking, irrespective of changes or additions to the itinerary.

For more information on the application available and for TraveluXion’s assistance contact Shirley.leroux@traveluxion.co.za.

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