Among the thorniest challenges for organizations as a result of COVID-19 is how to deal with all those unused tickets due to canceled travel plans. As organizations struggle to track and identify this unprecedented volume of unused tickets, many are discovering hidden problems within their travel policies and processes.
In pre-pandemic times, dealing with unused tickets due to a canceled conference or sick traveler was generally a rare occurrence and a slight headache. But contending with hundreds or even thousands of unused tickets is a major undertaking when you have only partial travel mandates or no mandates at all. Among the hurdles you may be facing are these:
- Identifying all unused travel purchases. This presents a major challenge without the use of a mandated travel management company (TMC). A corporate card program can ease the burden somewhat by enabling you to track tickets purchased with cards. But if you do not have a mandated TMC or corporate card program, tracking and identifying tickets is a painstakingly manual process.
- Dealing with multiple TMCs. Organizations with multiple TMCs must identify which one purchased each ticket, and work with that TMC to recoup the funds or track credits. The more TMCs your employees use, the more complex the ticket exchange or refund process will be.
- Determining allocation of funds. How should you cross-charge and handle budget transfers between departments? Should refunds or credits go to specific departments or to a general fund? What if the employee has already been reimbursed for the ticket? Without visibility into organization-wide travel purchases, gathering the information to make these decisions can be time-consuming, manual, and tedious.
As you seek to minimize risk and financial implications in the future, the management of unused tickets, waivers, name changes, and similar issues is likely to be an ongoing concern. How can you avoid this nightmare scenario going forward?
4 best practices for dealing with unused tickets
We asked SAP® Concur® customers how they are tackling this problem and have identified four best practices you can use to mitigate unused ticket headaches.
- Consider using air contracts with commonly used carriers. In addition to benefits such as discounts, seat access waivers, and name changes, working with a contracted airline gives you more flexibility in sorting out unused tickets. Airlines can consolidate unused tickets on a UATP card, which can then be used by anyone at your organization in the future.
- Mandate the use of TMCs. The pandemic has proven that a TMC’s value goes far beyond booking travel. When travel is booked through a TMC, you can count on their assistance to identify unused tickets and facilitate refunds or credits. Use reports available from your TMC to see how many tickets went unused and what percentage of those costs was recouped.
- Consolidate your TMCs. You’ll gain more control and visibility into travel spend by using a single TMC for all of your bookings. Importing those bookings into Concur® Travel maximizes the benefit of a managed travel program by gathering all your organization’s travel data in one place. When you can easily access travel details and spend information, it’s easier to deal with unused tickets. When multiple TMCs are issuing tickets to your organization, those tickets belong to the respective agency that issued them and therefore it makes the consolidation effort extremely tricky.
- Implement a corporate card policy. If mandating the use of a TMC isn’t feasible given your organizational culture, it may be worthwhile to mandate or more strongly encourage the use of purchasing cards or corporate cards. By putting all travel transactions on cards, you can better track travel spend – and track down unused tickets so you can recoup the cost. In addition, when any refund occurs, you know the credit goes back to the organization, rather than the employees’ personal card.
When every ticket is purchased according to these best practices – in your preferred channels and with your preferred relationships – you can more easily use your aggregated travel data to take control of unused tickets.
Taking tickets off your plate
Organizations across the spectrum – from small businesses and large enterprises to higher education and public institutions – are grappling with unprecedented challenges and doing it all with reduced resources and new budget constraints. The time and effort required to track down and recoup unused tickets puts even more burdens on overloaded staff. Make the most of SAP Concur solutions that put all of your travel data in one place to help ease the workload.