Travel managers come up with solutions to tighten belts

From left: National Oilwell Varco's Kishore Rames; Eli Lilly and Company's Rajesh Gupta; Accenture's Manjunath Shetty; Japan Airlines's Derek Ho; and CWT Asia Pacific's Michael Valkevich

In the face of rising airfares and room costs, travel managers are turning to consolidators and digital tools to tighten corporate travel spend, revealed speakers at the CTW Asia-Pacific Keynote and Forum, part of IT&CM Asia.

Airfare prices are expected to rise by an average of 3.2 per cent and room rates by 5.1 per cent per annum, shared Michael Valkevich, vice-president global sales and programme management, Asia Pacific, Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

From left: National Oilwell Varco’s Kishore Rames; Eli Lilly and Company’s Rajesh Gupta; Accenture’s Manjunath Shetty; Japan Airlines’s Derek Ho; and CWT Asia Pacific’s Michael Valkevich

In response, companies such as Accenture are looking at “new and innovative ways to negotiate and tweak policies to optimise” internal spending, said Manjunath Shetty, its associate manager – travel management.

For example, the company is working with its consolidator to achieve better hotel prices, such as negotiating for a city rate on hotels within certain geographical parameters, as well as funnelling all corporate travel claims to a single TMC or booking tool for successful reimbursement. It has also mandated the lowest airfare available for a route, but allow separate baggage add-ons.

Rajesh Gupta, consultant – global travel and meeting services for Eli Lilly and Company India, said his company has implemented technological solutions such as Yapta’s Room IQ and Fare IQ to control flight and room spend.

Tightening measures are also in place for the booking of sharing economy and other standalone accommodation, as cheaper options surface with the rise of Airbnb and independent boutique hotels.

“We do take bookings for standalone properties, but with caution. The first level of auditing is done by our consolidator based on our given parameters. We zero in on a few (accommodations) and leverage our global security teams to conduct hidden random audits for safety, especially for our female employees,” explained Shetty.

Meanwhile, other companies like National Oilwell Varco are remaining strictly against shared or gig economy spend “due to security and safety” concerns, said Kishore Rames, its travel manager Asia Pacific.

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