Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

Hotel Credit Card Fraud: Are you a target?

Credit card fraud is widespread and growing. I’m sure we’ve all had an experience (or at least know someone who has) where a credit card was perhaps stolen or used illegally. I recently saw a story on about how using a debit card for hotel reservations is not smart and how travelers could potentially become a victim of credit card fraud by doing so. It reminded me about the importance of this element of travel safety and I thought I’d share a few ideas about how to avoid possible fraud when booking hotels for your next trip.
1.  Never use a debit card. If your card is compromised your entire checking account balance could be a target.
2.  Use a credit card that has fraud insurance.
3.  For corporations who book hotels: check in using a prepaid one-time-use credit card option like the ones AirPlus or Wright Express offer.
4.  Be aware of your surroundings and watch for shoulder surfers and when giving your credit card info to the hotel desk.
It never hurts to be conscious of the potential threats out there.
And please contact your Christopherson Business Travel Account Manager if you are interested in receiving more information about AirPlus or Wright Express.

Travel Management Travel Technology

Twitter. Facebook. Linkedin. We all know the names, but have we figured out the game to using social media tools for the business of corporate travel?

An online survey of travel management professionals conducted in May of 2009 by AirPlus International revealed a connection between personal and professional use of social media sites. While more than 71 percent of respondents indicated that they personally participate in a social media platform and/or blog community, it’s encouraging to report that slightly more than 65 percent said that these sites could or already have added value to their business.
The possibilities for corporate travel applications are well worth exploring, as engagement in online communities continues to grow at breakneck speed—outpacing use of personal email accounts as the preferred communication channel. Twitter, a more recent online phenomenon, grew its membership by 1,382% year over year. Facebook had more than 20 million users in February 2008 and counted more than 65 million just one year later. According to Nielsen’s “Global Faces and Networked Places” study from March, 67 percent of Web users worldwide are plugged into at least one social networking or blog site and one out of every eleven minutes spent online is dedicated to use of new media.
Perhaps surprisingly, the fastest growing user group for new media sites is the 35 to 49 year olds, with business travelers among them. Indeed, business travelers are likely to be avid users—expanding their networking circles or providing family and colleagues with itinerary updates. Useful online services like TripIt and Dopplr can assist in making face-to-face connections, especially when used in concert with networking sites like Linked-in or Twitter. Users can instantly find out where their travel plans overlap with those of industry contacts in a given destination—organizing an ancillary meeting and increasing productivity. Travel managers might tap these types of free online resources to connect employees traveling to the same destination and organize car sharing or other cost-reduction programs around such capabilities.
Most corporate travel professionals, however, have not taken the possibilities of social media that far. Rather, they concentrate on gathering information for later actions, such as refining their list of preferred suppliers or tailoring programs to traveler preferences. In the AirPlus survey, respondents cited increased awareness of preferred supplier activities as the most effective business use of new media channels, with more than 41 percent following their suppliers online. On the heels of supplier intel were two traveler-oriented purposes: 39 percent noted the ability of social media to create camaraderie among travelers and more than 38 percent called out its ability to showcase what is most important to travelers.
Interestingly, the top new media site for the business travel community according to the AirPlus survey was the consumer site Linked-in, which beat out industry-specific blogs and information sharing sites. Whether that was due to a lack of awareness or another reason, the survey did not determine. What it does indicate is that there is room to grow when it comes to engagement in and active use of new media in the corporate travel space. Travel buyers and suppliers should raise their awareness and look for ways to reach the expanding group of avid new media users with their programs and messages.

Travel Management

Top Ten Tips on how Travel Managers and Travel Programs can gain from their new empowerment:

  1. Seize the Day
    This could be the best chance you will ever have to persuade senior management to adopt your ideas on cost control.  Don’t Waste it.
  2. Make the business case
    Use simple dashboards to cost out how much your organization is spending on travel now and how much can be saved by each specific action you are proposing.  Example:  benchmark the average fare on key routes for tickets bought 0-7 days in advance against the average fare for tickets bought 8-14 days in advance.
  3. Push for investment…
    …but be realistic.  Even if you can prove a clear, quick return on investment in an expense tool, video-conferencing system or even additional member of staff, you may be told to wait a year.
  4. Utilize Demand Management
    A total travel ban threatens business continuity, but failure to cut costs is not an option either.  The role of the travel manager has therefore become far more strategic, identifying which travel is unnecessary and lowering cost per trip for travel which is necessary.  This is smart demand management.
  5. Improve your strategic value – explain the big picture
    Senior Management does not always understand the consequences of its decision about travel.  Boost your strategic importance by showing them the bigger picture.  Explain why Corporate liability is better for the organization.  Show that rebust expense approval and reimbursement process would also have to be put in place to avoid damaging employee relations through late compensation with individual liability.
  6. Expand your sphere of influence
    Electronic alternatives to travel are increasingly on the radar as a major source of savings.  Make the case to senior management why their should be a travel management tool.  To make strategic savings and ensure business continuity, you need management control through integration with the travel program.
  7. Tackle meetings once and for all
    Seize the opportunity to introduce strategic meetings management if this does not already exist in your organization.  Not only is it a major source of potential savings, but concerns about excessive corporate spending make it a risk management issue too.
  8. Build a relationship with the finance department
    Finance is taking an increasing interest in travel for reasons of both cost control and risk management, which can only enhance the status of travel managers. Learn to speak CFOs’ language (depreciated costs, accruals, etc.), talk straight and find ways to reduce risk.
  9. Maintain a balance
    Even in a turndown, travel management is not all about saving money. Remind senior management that traveler safety and security is important too and carries a quantifiable risk.
  10. It pays to advertise
    Travel Managers are lousy at blowing their own trumpet. If you achieve success in reducing expenditure, tell everyone in your company about it!  And, show the data.

If you would like more information about how to develop your Corporate Travel Program, please contact Christopherson Business Travel: