Strategies for Travel Managers to Navigate Business Challenges

Airfare price tracking is also known as air price assurance, airfare re-shopping, or fare auditing and is used by corporations to reduce the risk that when their employees travel for business the fares that they pay aren’t overinflated or cost the company more than they should.

Companies can spend significant amounts of money moving their employees around the world to engage with clients as consultants, sell and close deals, manage customer relationships, and establish an on-site presence. Even during periods of uncertainty, business-critical travel exists: bolstering the need for an effective flight price tracker. Deloitte leads the Business Travel News Top 100 spending with north of $500 million in the US alone just on air travel. Airfare price tracking using a flight ticket tracker reduces the risk of paying for flights during a pricing spike and ensures a fair market price is paid instead.

Why Is Airfare Price Tracking Important?

Airfare tracking is important for both travel managers and finance teams. It allows them to access complete visibility into any possible price drop (either during the void window or after it). Airfare price assurance providers such as Oversee will catch the drop and work with your TMC to secure those savings.

Before 2020, airfares fluctuated around 70 times between being published and departure date. Currently, with airline revenue management systems pushed to their limits, this figure can be well over 100. Data from Oversee’s airfare tracking platform over the past few months has revealed significantly higher price volatility between 10 and 30 percent compared to normal.

How Does Airfare Price Tracking Work?

Most airfare flight price trackers will have already developed integrations with the three main Global Distribution Systems (GDS) and have, upon authorization, access to all PNRs booked by a company’s travelers. Oversee uses its proprietary algorithm to efficiently and continuously scan the GDS for price fluctuations throughout three stages: time of booking, void window, and to departure.

Once a ‘net-of-all-TMC-and-airline-fees‘ price drop is found, an automated instruction is sent to the TMC’s GDS queue to rebook the fare. If the original PNR is in the void period, then the re-shopped fare can be made without the typical airline cancellation fees. All of this is done behind the scenes to guarantee airfare price assurance while utilizing very few resources from either travel managers or their TMCs. In many cases, this process can be automated.

Does Airfare Price Tracking Only Work On Flexible Fares?

No. As there are multiple fare rules that govern cancellation costs there are opportunities for saving even with the most restrictive fare rules. There are also considerable savings to be made by strategically switching travelers from flexible fares to less flexible fares a few days before departure where the likelihood of travel is much, much higher.

Does Airfare Price Tracking Disrupt The Traveler?

In cases where a new PNR is generated for a new ticket, the traveler is simply alerted to this and the OBT is updated accordingly. Oversee has never seen this cause disruption across the millions of PNRs we’ve scanned. 

Additionally, there are ways to exclude certain groups of travelers such as VIPs or C-Suite executives for that added peace of mind. Our policy is ‘Same Flight, Same Cabin, Same Experience’ and in the majority of cases, the same seat for your travelers.

What Is The Best Airfare Price Tracker?

The best flight ticket tracker depends on the level of independence you’re looking for and global reach of your program. To avoid the ‘fox in the hen-house’ it’s always best to seek a provider that is TMC and GDS agnostic so that travel managers are confident that re-shopping success and data insights are independently provided and without bias.

Alternate TMC price assurance solutions are typically restricted to certain geographical regions or function only within the void window; this can be useful if your organization wants a basic solution but may not maximize airfare price assurance. Be mindful that these solutions do not provide for pan-program insights, or multiple TMCs, so you may not necessarily be able to roll this out globally.

GDS level tools exist, although they are restricted by definition to the GDS that provides them and like the TMC solutions, very restricted in the timing and geography of the price tracking.
Typically Oversee sees an increase of around 70% of savings when using an independent price assurance solution that tracks prices until departure and on a global level. 

Using Oversee (formerly Fairly), RELX found themselves saving 4.6% on annual air travel spend, which in turn led to enhanced  travel analytics with additional layers of reporting to benchmark negotiated fares against those that are publicly available. Using Oversee’s advanced travel data analytics and reporting solutions travel managers can better prepare when negotiating airline contracts and can even highlight sub-standard contracts easily.

Read part 2 of this article here.

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