The bane of most travel buyers' lives is ancillary fees. When suppliers break out the component costs of their products such as speedy boarding, baggage, credit card fees and so on, it causes angst and extra work.
For most travel buyers and travel managers, trying to work out the total cost of a trip from entries on a lodge card statement is challenging enough; trying to work out next year's budgets based on only one part of the picture is even more so. Ancillary fees can cause all kinds of complications, even more so when you're managing multinational travel programmes.
What to do?
- Pre-approve all ancillary costs before anything is booked. That way the company approver will have a more transparent view on something nearer to the total cost.
- When data flows down into expenses, catch the other ancillary costs, namely the credit card fees and TMC fees, and create an expense claim to lump them into one transaction.
Concur says it’s technically feasible to get a better picture of total spend, including ancillary fees, but much will depend on your systems and processes: whether business travellers pay for anything through their private credit cards and if your organisation itemises costs by traveller, for example.
There is no magic wand, no fully automated solution, no central repository to aggregate data from multiple sources. However, some big corporates are achieving close to this utopian solution by using a technology provider as a data consolidator, which sucks in the multiple source data and pulls it into one place. But it means using a lodge card, a TMC and, in this case, a solution like Concur’s platform.
And it also means providing 'level 3' data, which is so much more than date, amount and employee number. It includes, on a hotel stay for example, minibar, breakfast, parking and Wi-Fi costs.
The question you should be asking yourself is this: if you can’t input data automatically, then is your organisation prepared to let your business travellers input all this granular detail themselves – with potential productivity ramifications?
As with everything in this business, it’s a trade-off.
Want to know more about what's happening with ancillary fees in the US? Read this blog.