Traxo Vice President of Sales Chad Costa recently joined BTN Group’s Mary Ann McNulty for the June 26, 2018, "Leakage: Plugging the Holes in Your Travel Program" BTN webinar. The panel, including Suzanne Boyan from ZS Associates, Pat Sage from Huron Consulting Group, and Kim Castro from TravelCAST, shared how large enterprises are impacted by leakage in their travel programs and current solutions to address off-channel bookings.
Traxo has been working with Suzanne at ZS Associates on understanding their travel program leakage using the Traxo CONNECT platform. Chad Costa shared how clients like ZS can benefit from the Traxo FILTER component of the platform to achieve complete visibility into their travel program leakage.
Thank you to everyone who attended this event. If you missed it, a link to the recording and slides for the webinar are available here. Webinar attendees asked so many great questions that we could not get to all of them during the event. Here's a rundown of the key areas where audience members wanted to learn more about travel program leakage.
Q: How do companies get leakage data? How are they tracking employees purchase outside of the TMC?
A: There are a number of ways to capture booking data:
- Traditionally, companies reconcile bookings using expense reports or billed corporate card data. While this will show most of what was booked outside the program, it is a very reactive way as the data is 45-60 days old.
- Another option leverages direct connections with supplier systems, but this requires considerable development work to build out, and as a result, there are very few of these supplier-direct connections live today.
- With few supplier-direct integrations available, the gap in bookings must be filled by requiring travelers to manually email in their confirmation emails. In Traxo’s experience, adoption of manually sending in bookings is low and leads to an incomplete view.
The Traxo CONNECT platform, on the other hand, includes Traxo FILTER, a proprietary technology that captures booking data in real-time, as it occurs, by leveraging the data in confirmation emails sent out for each transaction. This technology delivers a complete view of all booking data purchased outside of the TMC as soon as the travel is booked.
Q: How quickly after a booking is made is Traxo able to capture it? Does Traxo maintain the data so they will see any changes or cancellations made to the original booking?
A: As soon as the traveler receives the booking confirmation email from the off-channel source (e.g., supplier or OTA), Traxo has already captured it. This is what Traxo means by “real time.” Traxo can even capture TMC bookings immediately after purchase.
Traxo makes all booking data available to customers through the Traxo CONNECT Dashboard. This browser-based application can be accessed on demand by the corporate travel manager and admins, and enables quick snapshots of new bookings, past bookings, and upcoming trips. Itinerary and spend details can be viewed via the dashboard, and downloaded to Excel for further analysis.
As changes or cancellations are received in the form of email confirmations, Traxo updates the existing booking data in Traxo CONNECT, and can also distribute it onward to duty of care partners, TMCs, and other managed travel services you may use.
Q: With suppliers enticing travelers using discounts and points to book direct, what do you recommend that companies do to capture these direct bookings?
A: That is one of the primary scenarios that the Traxo CONNECT platform is designed to solve. It gives the company real time visibility into supplier direct bookings and allows the company to take action on the data before the trip.
For example, when an employee books directly on a hotel app or website, Traxo's FILTER technology detects the confirmation email, parses the data, and loads it into the company's Traxo CONNECT dashboard. The travel manager then has visibility into that booking, and can take appropriate action -- i.e., course-correct for compliance purposes; send that booking to services like TripBAM or Yapta for price monitoring; alert the hotel that the negotiated rate should be honored for that booking; etc.
Q: Many companies still put T&E spend on Purchase Orders and P-Cards. How does Traxo manage that spend?
A: Traxo’s technology for capturing booking and pricing data is independent of payment methods. Because it captures data based on the confirmation email sent with each transaction, it doesn't matter what form of payment is used. Once Traxo CONNECT acquires the complete booking data, corporations can be proactive and utilize the new spend information.
Q: If a traveler uses their personal email address instead of their business email address with their loyalty programs, how will these bookings be captured by Traxo?
A: Traxo FILTER is designed to detect bookings at the company's email server level, so if a personal email is used, that booking would not be captured by FILTER. For this reason, Traxo CONNECT also provisions a unique custom inbox for each company (i.e., "BizTravel@YourCompany.com" or similar) where employees can forward those travel confirmation emails. This ensures you can still capture edge-case bookings made with a personal email address.
Privacy & Data Security
Q: How do you manage privacy issues when filtering emails from outside vendors who might collect PII from your employees?
A: Because Traxo's service relies on the confirmation email sent from the booking source, any PII included is already extremely limited for security purposes. Typically, the only PII processed is the traveler name, email address, and potentially a loyalty account number, as well as the affiliation with the company as the employer. This is actually much LESS data that is processed by a GDS or TMC, which also captures things like birthdate, gender, passport number or other government ID information, credit card information, and even billing address. So, Traxo has a much lower exposure from a PII perspective than your other vendors do.
Generally speaking, the limited PII data collected by Traxo CONNECT is not new information, because the company already has access to it. The itinerary and cost data associated with the booking is not considered PII.
Q: Regarding Traxo FILTER, are IT departments seeing PII or sensitive data risks as barriers to this solution? If so, how are they mitigating such concerns?
A: Typically this is not a concern once the IT team understands the scope of Traxo FILTER. We've drafted a useful FAQs document for IT teams to review which contains helpful background on how FILTER works -- you can request this from your Traxo salesperson or contact us for details. Most importantly:
- Traxo FILTER does NOT scan company emails. Traxo has no access to the email content or messages, so it cannot "read" the messages.
- Rather, Traxo FILTER behaves more like a whitelist or spam filter: it looks at the sender's address (i.e., "firstname.lastname@example.org") to see if it matches the list of known travel confirmation email senders. If it matches one of those senders, then the company's email server forwards that email to Traxo for processing.
Traxo only sees the emails which the company forwards based on the list of sender addresses provided by Traxo. Traxo never sees any emails that do not match one of these senders.
- Traxo FILTER is not software or an external application, so there is no systems security risk.
- As noted above, there is limited PII data included in confirmation emails (even less than what is processed by your TMC) so any risk is outweighed by the critical need for access to this data for duty of care and program management needs.
Q: Does the traveler have to register with Traxo CONNECT or can a company implement the solution on their own?
A: The main benefit of Traxo CONNECT is that it's completely frictionless for the traveler -- there is nothing for the traveler to do. The implementation of Traxo FILTER occurs at the company's email server level, so there is no action required from employees.
It's up to the company to decide if it wants to notify employees of the FILTER implementation or not. Some companies prefer to run it behind-the-scenes during a pilot stage as a way to benchmark existing behavior. Other companies prefer to alert employees to the benefits of FILTER, in particular to advise them to use their work email address when making external bookings. It's completely up to each company how they choose to deploy Traxo FILTER and use the Traxo CONNECT platform.
Q: I have card and travel data, but I do not manage expense side (using Concur Expense) and haven’t received the best data. What are the best leakage tracking reports?
A: Card and expense reconciliation is one way to gauge leakage, and can provide valuable data. However, it is typically 45-60 days after the fact, even in a best case scenario, so it's not timely or actionable. You can see the booking activity and channel, but any cost savings/avoidance opportunities or even the ability to provide duty of care are lost. Even after you receive the data, specifics on bookings are a challenge to uncover and typically require lots of manual effort to reconcile the various reports.
Rather than focusing on specific reports, the best approach is to focus on acquiring both timely and complete data. Timely data is actionable and complete data allows enterprises to discover new insights about their travel program.
Traxo CONNECT captures data in real time, and with both Excel download and API-based integrations to downstream service providers including reporting tools, it can be a strong complement to your other data sources.
Q: What reporting does Traxo CONNECT provide? Can data be integrated with other sources from the OBT?
A: Traxo does provide customers with detailed, real time booking information through our Dashboard and in Excel format. This data can be integrated into reporting tools and business intelligence solutions in use by many enterprises today. In addition, Traxo CONNECT includes an API enabling IT teams to integrate Traxo’s booking data with other enterprise applications.
Using Your Booking Data
Q: Does Traxo work with Concur or are you a competitor?
A: Traxo's platform is independent of other managed travel service providers, so it can be used in conjunction with any TMC, booking tool, expense application, etc. -- including Concur. Most importantly, Traxo is not a replacement for any of those services -- it's a complement to them. You can use Traxo CONNECT to capture data that your other services aren't able to access, and then authorize those services (like Concur) to pull your data via our API connection into their applications.
Traxo's Marketplace of partners includes a wide range of integrations to Duty of Care, Price Assurance, Expense Management, and Reporting providers. Companies can also authorize their TMC to access their Traxo CONNECT data to incorporate it into other TMC services as their "single source of truth" if desired.
Q: Could you speak a bit more about the Traxo CONNECT solution for the pilot with ZS? Does it connect with a TMC for servicing and duty of care? If not currently, is that in the works for the future?
A: The initial pilot with ZS helped benchmark existing off-channel activity -- which turned out to be much higher than anticipated. With that knowledge, Traxo is now in the process of integrating ZS's Traxo CONNECT data to International SOS, their duty of care provider, to ensure the gaps in coverage are suitably addressed. Additionally, ZS has been piloting Traxo's direct integration with United Airlines to enable ZS's negotiated rates to be bookable on the United website and mobile app and instantly capture that booking data for onward integration to International SOS.
Thank you again to Mary Ann McNulty from BTN Group, Suzanne from ZS, Pat from Huron Consulting Group, Kim from TravelCAST, and everyone that attended the webinar. As one more reminder, the recording and slides for the webinar are available here.
Contact us today to request a demo of Traxo CONNECT and learn more about how we can help you solve your organization’s travel program leakage challenges.