Managing unused nonrefundable tickets and making sure they’re used before they expire is always an important part of a corporate travel management program - particularly those with a lot of travelers in North America. In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it has become essential. Can you imagine trying to keep track of all the cancelled tickets resulting from this crisis, incorporating each airline’s policies, restrictions, and extensions, then making sure they’re reused when travel comes back without technology to help?
We can’t either.
At Travel and Transport, our Banx system captures, monitors, and reuses unused non-refundable airline tickets - all the time - not just during a global health crisis. When a traveler cancels a non-refundable airline ticket, that gets logged in Banx. We're also able to automatically find any open segments that may have been forgotten, which we then refund or load into Banx for future use. Those can be reapplied for future travel, making sure those funds don’t go to waste.
How has Banx been valuable during this global health event? We talked to Joel Bailey, Senior Vice President, Customer Solutions at Travel and Transport to find out.
How has Banx helped during this unprecedented time in our industry when travel cancellations were of epic proportions?
During this crisis, we have seen record cancellations, most of which were non-refundable tickets. Banx monitors the number of tickets, when they will expire, those that are coming up to expire within the next 30 days, etc. for all of our customers. It will even provide monitoring at a traveler level. Many companies had a substantial increase in cancelled bookings due to travel policy changes and travel bans.
Tickets in Banx went up nearly 350% in March, 2020 alone. Being able to stay organized and updated on what is available or soon to expire provides a great sense of reassurance that spoilage of tickets can be greatly avoided.
How is Banx unique in the industry?
The difference with Banx is that we are not just tracking tickets. We are managing the tickets to ensure spoilage rates stay minimal for our clients. Once travel resumes, our travel advisors will use Banx alongside Travel and Transport’s proprietary CRM system Leap Advisor and will be able to easily auto-check during the reservation process if there are tickets to be used from the client’s non-refundable supply. Once the reservation is moved to the mid-office, a check is put in place to ensure tickets are being used from the Banx system. If there is a ticket to be used, the reservation is sent back to the travel advisor to update the reservation.
The same holds true for online reservations. Once a reservation is made, it will be quality checked through the mid-office system and sent to our online fulfillment desk should a non-refundable ticket be found that can be used for the new booking.
How can a company handle tickets that are about to expire when travel is still banned?
One of the most urgent challenges for companies is tracking the tickets that were already in the Banx system that need to be used within a 12-month window, specifically those tickets that will be expiring from April – August. Will the clients lose these, or will there be new rules put in place to save these tickets? The situation is still being worked on within the industry and many airlines are now putting out policies to address this. Travel and Transport is actively engaged with the airlines to help extend the value of these tickets past their expiration dates.
We are adapting our processes around Banx and working with the airlines to account for these changes, making sure that our clients have the best opportunity to make use of these credits as quickly as possibe.
What part does Banx play in ensuring tickets are not suspended?
Travel and Transport offers proprietary technology that looks at all tickets each day and checks against the GDS if a traveler boarded the plane. This technology application will alert our travel advisors if a traveler has not boarded their flight. Our operations teams then follow up with the client immediately so they can cancel the reservation and move the ticket into Banx to avoid it from being suspended to protect its value. When a ticket is suspended it can be difficult to reverse.
What proactive steps is Travel and Transport taking with clients around non-refundable tickets?
Our account management teams are working closely with our clients to review travel policies and potentially mandate the use of non-refundable tickets when the travelers get back on the road. Some clients could travel for their first month without spending a dime on new bookings. As a normal practice, we send push reports out to travelers when their tickets are 60-90 days from expiring to remind them.
Companies may also want to look at the rules they have in place around name changes and think about expanding the leniency around the name change window so as to not lose credits. We already have procedures set up with some clients to, within a certain time threshold, facilitate a name change to get the ticket used.
We aren’t yet sure when, but we know that in time, travel will come back. Tools like Banx help us ensure that we will be ready for our clients when the gates re-open.