Travel Program Leakage: Safeguarding Your Travel Program During a Pandemic

Transparency is key

Travel program leakage is a travel manager’s worst nightmare. Leakage happens when employees bypass your corporate travel program and book outside your approved online booking tool (OBT) or travel management company (TMC). This affects your travel spend and prevents you from capturing essential data. While travel leakage was always an issue, thanks to Covid-19, it is occurring more frequently than ever before.

Usually, when leakage occurs, you lose transparency, making it harder to provide a proper duty of care for travelers and the people they meet. During an unprecedented global pandemic, that’s a scary thought. But that lack of transparency could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars lost or unaccounted for.

Leakage and Covid, a nightmare

When flights were canceled and credits issued, many honors and vouchers were sent directly to the traveler. Now, distinctions may exist outside the travel program, ready to be used outside of approved booking tools. Many unused tickets, refunds, and vouchers issued this year are likely missing, misunderstood, or misused by the traveler. Also, if any ex-employee had a voucher or credit in their name when they left, they may still be able to use this value.

With many opportunities for out-of-policy bookings to occur when safety is crucial, and belts have never been tighter, minimizing travel program leakage is necessary.

“About 6% of T&E annually, or about $60,000 for every $1 million in expenses, is out of compliance”

So how do we do that?

Right now, there are several things Travel Managers can do to prevent leakage. The first is ensuring your program and policies are well-designed. Since most of your travelers aren’t flying, now is the best time to implement policies to prevent fight leakage. Taking advantage of improving your program now will pay dividends when travel returns.

The second thing you can do is gain transparency now, especially in your unused tickets. If you can’t comprehensively monitor your program, you can’t protect it from leakage. Getting clarity now will yield a considerable return, both now and later.

Transparency first: track vouchers, refunds, and unused tickets

You face enormous challenges if you don’t know how many vouchers, refunds, and new tickets exist.

  1.   Not knowing how many credits you have means you can’t plan how to use them or stop them from expiring.
  2.   If you can’t track them, you have no idea when someone uses them when they shouldn’t.

This was a significant problem even before Covid-19; our internal data shows that in 2019 5% of tickets remained unused. The problem is more important than ever and potentially will be until 2021. This is why you need transparency right now.

Software like our Unused Ticket Tracker helps you stop leakage before it occurs and provides insights that your TMC and OBT may be missing. You’ll be able to see all of your unused tickets, even finding new opportunities to get refunds for unused, unflown, and unrefunded tickets. Once you have the complete picture, you can find and prevent sources of leakage. Unused Tickets will monitor and track all your vouchers, giving you complete visibility into their use. You’ll know immediately if they’re booked outside of your program and can act accordingly. 

You can rest assured knowing that Oversee will alert you if any employee uses credits or vouchers for personal travel. We will even help identify cases where vouchers exist in ex-employees’ names and help you recover them.

Travel program leakage causes enough chaos to your program during regular times. Now more than ever, having data on the money you’re owed helps you ensure the money gets used how and when it should. If you \’re interested in learning more, check out how the Unused Ticket Tracker will help you stop leakage. To see a demonstration, contact us.

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