Coronavirus Exposes Weaknesses In Business Traveler Tracking

It's unfortunate when an event requires an emergency review of tracking systems so employers can help business travelers out of harm's way. Worse yet is when they can't trust those systems. With the glut of cancelations this month, false reports showed travelers at originally intended destinations when they never made the trip.

This isn't good for anyone. Travelers might get alerts about danger in a location they are nowhere . . .

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Author: David Jonas

David Jonas in 2006 co-founded business media firm ProMedia.travel after ten years as a journalist with Business Travel News. David rejoined BTN in 2010 as executive editor when its parent company acquired ProMedia, and in 2014 co-created The Company Dime. David has a bachelor's degree in communications from Cornell University.

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Joseph FriedmannAndres FabrisTiffany WoodardKim CastroMary Ellen George Recent comment authors
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Pedro Ceron
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Ditto. The last two sentences say it well, and leave little more to say.

Marty Hoski
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Marty Hoski

From what I’ve heard and experienced first hand, integration between airlines, TMC GDS systems and third party traveler tracking systems were a FAIL. I’d love to hear from someone who gave this task a PASS. Thanks for publishing this David.

Mary Ellen George
Advisor

David, great article and points made. This issue serves to highlight the critical importance for TMCs in getting mid- and back-office systems in order. Access to real-time data drastically improves the flow and accuracy of information between suppliers (both through the GDSs and direct), accounting/QA systems and third-party providers to eliminate this issue. Marty, I’d be happy to share some examples of our integration capabilities if that’s of interest.

Kim Castro
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Kim Castro

Thanks for this, David. This highlights a well-known problem that is less about technology capability and more about the process. There are many gaps in risk management and traveler tracking. Lacking a single source of truth, there are always going to be gaps until a better process is in place. Many TMCs use the GDS queue drop to port PNRs to a risk vendor, rather than API. For the ones that do, the data will always be asynchronous. As mentioned, a traveler could make a change directly with a carrier, or cancel. That change may or may not cascade down… Read more »

Tiffany Woodard
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Tiffany Woodard

Great article, David. As a 30+ year veteran, I’ve seen all of what is mentioned in your article and then some. But now with a travel tech firm specializing in TRM (travel risk management), it really does start with the “garbage in/garbage out” that David Wood mentions above and the process in which data is shared with third-party tech firms. The days of disparate systems should be in the past, but as we all know, they are not. Many systems are slow to progress through time and adapt to new ways of doing things, so automation must be introduced to… Read more »

Andres Fabris
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Andres Fabris

Great article, and thanks to David and the commenters above for highlighting the issue of gaps in traveler tracking. The fundamental issue here is data fragmentation, and as Tiffany indicates, we need a fresh, outside-the-box approach. The old way of relying on the GDS as the system of record for up-to-date itinerary details just doesn’t work anymore. As this article points out, it’s not just because of “leakage” — even TMCs struggle to keep up with bookings, changes and cancellations made within their own systems. Off-channel bookings just make the existing blind spots that much bigger. The industry needs tech… Read more »

Joseph Friedmann
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Joseph Friedmann

Great article David, as usual. I think it’s going to take a lot to stop travelers from booking outside of policy. Which is just one of the reasons tracking travelers is problematic. Tools like CapTrav are seeking to do just that (capture any booking, any site) but it remains to be seen how successful they will be. Stay safe everyone.