Within the world of business travel, open booking currently has the wind in its sails. But while this option appeals to plenty of employees, it still possesses certain disadvantages for companies… So what should they watch out for?

Traditionally, it’s been a company’s travel manager who looks after all the business trips of its employees. But since the digital revolution took hold, the status quo has changed. Today’s more connected travellers have access to a whole host of information, comparison tools and purchase channels (what’s known as the “uberisation” of services). During their trip, they also tend to want to combine work requirements with personal expectations. Consequently, they are much more likely to want to take care of their own bookings, outside the traditional circuit: this phenomenon is what’s known as “open booking”.

A headache for companies

So is this a good thing or a bad thing? For practical and economic reasons, the concept makes sense, not least because staff can be given greater freedom, but it’s not without risks nonetheless: first and foremost, there are safety issues (how can assistance be provided to an employee not using the usual service providers?), not to mention legal ones (ensuring your embracing of the collaborative economy doesn’t place you at odds with the law). And lastly, not only does open booking raise issues regarding the transparency and control of expenses, but it can also increase indirect costs (advances of expenses, management of claim forms, invoices, etc.) and make managing your travel budget trickier.

The solution?

Travel managers need to show their added value by learning to manage these new types of expectations. For instance? Within some companies, travellers can opt for the service provider of their choice, but they must always go through the house travel agency. Others have opted for a system (such as Concur Messaging) that guarantees better safety for employees by enabling their location to be pinpointed. Others still are favouring tools (like Concur TripLink) which streamline the travel management process by automating it and permitting the integration of data from new partners (Uber, independent hotels, etc.), thereby ensuring full visibility over the expenses incurred.