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Most travel managers not tracking ancillary fees: study

Only 21 percent of travel managers track ancillary fees, according to study


December 20, 2011
Sandy MacIsaac

Travel Management Canada: Premier Issue – November/December 2011

Only 21 percent of travel managers track ancillary fees, according to a study by the GBTA Foundation and Egencia, the corporate travel arm of Expedia, Inc. The two organizations have released the 2011 Corporate Travel Policy Benchmarking and Insight study, which evaluates travel management trends and policies across North American and European organizations.

Based on best practices and insights from 651 primarily North American travel buyers, the study takes a comprehensive look at policy mandates versus guidelines, consolidation, booking procedures, class of service, advanced purchase, pre-trip approval, groups-meetings and emergencies and ancillary fees, among other issues.

This year marks the first time the survey collected information on ancillary fee tracking. Only 21 percent of travel managers in 2011 are tracking these fees. Most rely on data from internal expense reimbursement systems (81 percent), corporate charge cards (53 percent), or travel management companies (23 percent). The survey estimates ancillary fees comprise just over eight percent of total travel spend. Travel managers said they are most likely to reimburse travelers for the following ancillary fees for air and hotel:
• Air: will reimburse for baggage fees (91 percent), itinerary changes (73 percent), in-flight meals (47 percent) and in-flight wi-fi (35 percent). Fewer organizations will reimburse for preferred seating (13 percent), priority boarding (8 percent), or in-flight entertainment (three percent);

• Hotel: will reimburse for parking (89 percent), internet access (84 percent) and airport shuttle (70 percent). Fewer companies reimburse for late check-out (24 percent), early check-in (23 percent), fitness centres (21 percent), mini-bars (nine percent) and entertainment (four percent).

Of the 79 percent of travel managers not tracking ancillary expenses, 41 percent plan to in the next 12 months and another six percent believe they will within the next two years. Sixty-one percent of respondents said travel policy is more a guideline than mandate, and 72 percent said there are few consequences for policy violations. Only 10 percent of organizations allow travelers to upgrade to first or business class on flights within North America.

However, 33 percent authorize business class on flights to Europe, 32 percent to South America, 42 percent on flights to India, Africa or the Middle East. Meanwhile,
47 percent allow such upgrades on flights to the Asia-Pacific. While these numbers are mostly unchanged since 2010, there was a five-percent decline in companies that don’t allow any premium-class air travel, from 47 percent in 2010 to 42 percent in 2011.