In the Future, Booking Corporate Travel Will Be as Good (sic) as Airline Websites

Companies use managed travel programs to get bulk discounts and limit the conflicts of interest inherent to having travelers make their own travel decisions. But many of those companies don’t do a very good job of it, and the tools provided to travelers are frequently not very good.

Skift interviews the CEO of Concur about the future of booking corporate travel.

Bottom line is that employees don’t do what they’re told, despite incentives and even threats if they don’t use corporate travel booking tools. Over 50% of hotels booked by business travelers in managed travel programs are booked outside of corporate policy.

Part of this is that employees get better deals outside their corporate booking channels. Travel managers protest that they have booking goals to get big rebates and travelers don’t understand how good a deal booking negotiated rates really is. But that’s often self-serving and only part true at best.

Most airfares are available through corporate tools. There are very few fares that can be had better outside of a standard global distribution system (because of the nature of their contracts which don’t permit it). But that’s not true for hotels or rental cars.

Concur has made a big bet on their TripLink initiative which is a way for business travelers whose companies have negotiated rates with – say – United – to book at United.com and still get their negotiated rates and use their standard corporate travel expense reporting tools. That in turn makes do-it-yourselfers no longer “rogue bookers.”

I think the overriding concept, and how we look at the world, is that you want to embrace the behavior of the individual. And you want to make it easier for them to do whatever it is they need to do. The patterns we are seeing in the world, the patterns we are seeing by cloud computing, by mobile computing, allow the individual to work in the model that they want to work. Embrace that behavior, capture the information that is necessary for them to get the results they are looking for. And then work behind the scenes to make sure you are meeting corporate objectives.

The bottom-line here is that business travelers in managed travel programs have a future to look forward ot in which they can… avail themselves of advanced technology like United.com.

Not very inspiring, but we’ll take what we can get!


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Too bad Concur’s UI is a steaming pile-of-poo. Although we’re required to use it-I wish we weren’t-it’s always a 2-step process for me. I usually isolate my flights and hotel outside of their tool (e.g. ITA, Kayak, etc), then confine my search on Concur and book.

  2. We use CarlsonWagonlit and we always get full Y fare on it’s site vs discounted rate found on Ctrip.com or other OTAs for our flights in Asia. It’s sad.

  3. The failure to follow travel policy is more a company cultural thing. If the execs don’t travel lean they can’t expect the next rank to be penny pinching and so it goes. Kind of ironic that United is leading the way when they have changed their mileage program to reward loose purse strings.

  4. We have Concur. I can almost always beat their price on rental cars and I qualify for government rate at hotels but compare that against best available and any “elite” rates I might have, and can often beat Concur there as well. As for airfare? It might be equal, but Concur tacks an $8 fee on for each item in my itinerary and I’m capable of booking direct and skipping that fee. For me, “frugal” is avoiding Concur and my company culture supports it – we got Concur for everyone else that doesn’t know anything about booking travel to help control costs.

  5. United.com is great. Apply all upgrades. Change flights — award and paid. And the App is awesome. More of United.com is good, not bad.

  6. Apparently Southwest does not offer some of their lower fares to corporate portals. On a recent trip, my corporate portal wanted $300 for an itinerary that was available for $150 on southwest.com.

  7. I have to concur that Concur sucks. Worst system ever foisted on humanity.

    That Java based UI is a nightmare, I can see based on past experiences, it’s about to get a lot worse now that SAP owns them.

  8. A major issue is how budgets are kept and expenses are binned. When the rebate is binned to the corporate travel department, while the higher fare and expense is charged to the department of the traveler, there will always be non-compliance and resentment. If Concur works to alleviate the disconnect between the departments and their organizational goals, well and good. But to really fix the problem, management at the senior level needs to take the divergent goals into account in the first place.

  9. My cheap a#*s company is switching from Orbitz for Business to Travel and Transport which uses Concur as its booking tool for all travel. Travelers or field crew employees do not book air travel, the illiterate genius who sits at a desk overpaying for flights and all the dumb configurations etc. does that for travelers. Field supervisors (me and 13 others) make hotel and rental car reservations. Since we were told not to call Concur as they pay fees for customer service use, I am not sure if booking through this site will disqualify any hotel loyalty rewards benefits that I would be entitled to receive as a member of their loyalty programs. I was able to crack Orbitz for Business and beat the system so that I would always get my points. Would anyone happen to know what results with bookings made through Concur? If I would be treated as a third party nobody? Either way I can crack this one as well, just want to get a head start. Thanks for any tips

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