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ASK THE EXPERTS


WORDS CATHERINE CHETWYND


AUDIT SOLUTIONS R


ATE AUDITING IS CRUCIAL to keeping on top of travel budgets, but in this brave new world of algorithms picking hotels and flights,


how well does the technology work in practice? One of our experts is certain that technology can perform a good audit to provide worthwhile savings on hotel rates and is trialling tools to audit rates for one-off, long-term projects; another says complex itineraries need human input to source the right information to obtain the best prices, while a third uses human resources to benchmark a UK hotel programme. Here our experts explain why they rate audit in the way that they do.


VANESSA BAILEY, DIRECTOR OF CLIENT PARTNERSHIP, BTD


We use Tripbam to audit hotel rates, which can be defined to each client. If rooms are booked well ahead, but closer to departure the hotels are slashing rates because they have excess inventory, the technology flags the lower tariff and we rebook at that rate. We can also look at alternative hotels within a half-hour’s radius, so if there is a cheaper property nearby of the same standard and with the same room type, the tool will flag that to the traveller or booker by automated email, who can vote via buttons in the email to keep the original or book the new one. If they choose the latter, it cancels the first reservation, rebooks the lower rate and a message goes to the travel manager or booker. A dashboard shows where offers have been accepted or rejected. Travel managers can use the information to inform their RFP and include nearby hotels that come in with a cheaper offer. We put corporate rates into the system and even after they have been


booked, Tripbam will check whether on the day there were lower rates and keep that information in the system for further analysis.


Flights are more complicated


because of the cancellation restrictions and penalties. We have algorithms which look at the cost of a flight, even when ticketed. If the airline has reduced the cost, we can check the cancellation penalties, flag any saving, rebook it, including seat requirements, and tell the client. Some of our clients run big projects, where they have long-term, high- volume requirements in a specific region or city. We are working with one client to help it set the budget from when it tenders for work. We look at how much it will cost to have, say, 20 people in Newcastle every night for six months, plus rail fare, and we are creating software to give live reporting against a budget, so that clients can see how they are doing. We have tested it with a new client and the feedback has been positive.


BBT asks a TMC, a consultant and a travel buyer if technology is best for rate audits or whether human input is needed


44


JULY/AUGUST


2019


buyingbusinesstravel.com


THE TMC


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