At face value, online travel websites and bookings direct with suppliers can be appealing as there are the perceived benefits of convenience and perception of lowest rates. In reality however, if you are using a combination of channels to book your travel - fees, leakage and the soft costs incurred through employees self-managing your company's travel arrangements, can end up costing more in the long run.
Companies using a number of booking channels are in effect foregoing the value-adding benefits that can only be driven by holistic travel management. Research shows that travel program consolidation with a travel management company (TMC) as well as the use of bundled bookings will not only save you money in the short term, but will drive long-term value.
What is a bundled booking?
A bundled booking involves the simultaneous booking of flights and land components such as accommodation and/or car hire within the one request. Best case scenario of a bundled booking includes all three travel solutions (flights, accommodation and ground transportation) in a single booking, or it can represent a package booking of flights with accommodation or flights with car transfers.
If you are booking direct with your TMC, a bundled booking requires one email or phone call to your travel manager. If your company uses FCM's online booking tool, the process is just as easy with FCM Online providing single-screen visibility for your air, hotel and ground transportation searches. A bundled booking not only streamlines the booking process but delivers time and cost efficiencies.
Benefits of bundled bookings
Single booking fee
Consider this: if you bundle a booking for flights, hotel and car transfer with FCM, you'll pay a single booking fee whether you book using FCM Online or with your travel manager. If you were to book your flights through FCM, your accommodation on an alternate online travel website and your car transfers direct with a supplier, you're more than likely paying three different booking or service fees.
With online travel websites charging anywhere from $20 HKD up to $50 HKD per booking and some suppliers also charging service fees, corporates using multiple booking channels often face a higher fee structure than those customers using bundled bookings as part of a consolidated TMC-managed travel program.
FCM research shows that a single booking made via an online travel website can take about 27 minutes to complete. Make a change to that booking and the completion time jumps to 38 minutes. Use the same process twice and your employee would have spent one hour and 16 minutes booking travel.
Booking travel via an online travel website or direct with suppliers may seem like it's a quick and easy process but once you factor in price comparison searches and changes, the amount of time spent on a single booking is significant. If staff members are spending a few hours each week booking travel, comparing prices online, making changes and managing payments for each channel, the time spent focusing on items that are not directly related to your core operation can really start to impact on your bottom line.
Additionally, FCM's technology streamlines bookings and generates productivity gains for corporates, due to the real-time access it provides to last-seat web, client negotiated and FCM-negotiated rates. A point-to-point booking involving air fares and accommodation can be completed in less than three minutes.
By bundling your bookings with a single travel manager, organisations can leverage the benefits of travel program consolidation. Bundled bookings ensure your travel data is centralized through the one secure source for comprehensive data capture and reporting. Consolidation enables effective monitoring and benchmarking of key performance data and enables your organisation to optimise supplier relationships with preferred vendors by leveraging your full travel volume for maximum negotiated savings.
With bundled bookings, corporates will have greater visibility of their spend and patterns due to higher levels of booking consolidation and reporting that is based on whole-of-company travel data. The more comprehensive your data is the more clarity you'll have around fees, compliance, exceptions, supplier management and program trending.
Enhanced policy compliance
Policy compliance is incredibly important and this is where agency and supplier websites let corporates down. By bundling your bookings with your TMC or booking via FCM’s online booking tool, policy compliance is driven at point of sale across all your air, hotel and car hire needs. If required, exceptions across your air, car or hotel needs, can be dealt with immediately rather than as a follow-up during the reconciliation process.
Increased traveller safety
By bundling your bookings with FCM, you're not only going to save time and money but you'll have complete visibility of your traveller's whereabouts in an emergency. If you have all of your bookings through FCM, our travel managers can locate where your travellers are in an instant. Often there is no after-sales support with a web booking and companies can be exposed to lengthy call waiting times and a lack of options when dealing with a supplier during periods of peak capacity.
Make bundled bookings part of your policy
A more concerted effort to use a 'bundled booking' system among your travellers has the potential to boost your bottom line for every booking. Bundled bookings, which are often underused by coporates, present an excellent opportunity for your company to leverage savings. As such, we recommend corporates introduce guidelines into your policy that encourage travellers to think about how their travel plans can be 'packaged' every time they travel.