The Death of Open Booking?

Even if it has gone with a whimper rather than a bang. Slipped out the back, rather than gone down in a blaze of glory, there seems to be much less industry noise, conference speeches, blog articles (well apart from this one) about Open Booking these days. What happened?

Well, it was certainly a very interesting idea … allow business travellers to shop and book through whatever channel they prefer and find a way to get some record of that transaction back into the managed program, in some fashion (that part was often left a bit hazy), later on. It was a refreshingly different approach and in that way appealing for some industry pundits and future predictors who try to spot the next big thing. But in the end, for the community of people whose job it is to make business travel happen, look after travellers, control budgets, reduce administration and time wasting, it just looked too much like giving up. Setting the bar so low that everyone was going to trip over it. Also in terms of the corporate executive mind-set, it’s hard to think of another business area/department where it’s OK for the person responsible to say they think it’s best just to let everyone do what they want. It seems dangerously close to saying you aren’t needed.

On the vendor side, part of the drive for open booking was made by expense vendors, arguing that that the best was to manage low cost suppliers is to use expense management tools to ‘mop up’ all the “leaked” transactions (made directly on the suppliers site) at the end of the process. This approach ignores the value of a corporate booking tool that applies policy, spend control and workflow at the point of sale, where it’s most needed.

At Traveldoo, we have both Travel and Expense products and believe the key to a great travel program is when these two work well together. Companies shouldn’t have to make a false choice between cheap supplier direct bookings and program control. Through a solid investment in supplier connectivity and a seamless end-to-end user experience, the future will be about using technology to better manage T&E, not to pretend it doesn’t need managing at all. Perhaps, if we can have an official obituary for the Open Booking, we can all get back to the business at hand.

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