Business travelers change their tickets often. We know this. The current airfare structure also incentivizes companies and travelers to purchase non refundable tickets and the change fees to re use them are size able. As a company do you know how much you are leaving on the table by not maximizing the use if these non refundable tickets and the cost to exchange these tickets? Not only are the unused tickets money left on the table-or should I say with the airlines, but the change fees required to reuse these tickets are significant. Customers in the United States paid a total of 2.5 billion in cancellation fees in 2012 as per the bureau of transportation statistics. Cancellation fees have even increased from $150 to $200 in more recent years. The interesting thing is that this bureau of transportation statistics does not collect the amount of non refundable tickets that go unused, but you should for your organization. To digress, I am not a proponent of more regulation but disclosure of this data seems logical and useful for companies that serve the vast public and use public facilities and services.
So what can you do as a travel manager to understand this amount and change policies and behaviors to better leverage this sizeable investment? Travel Management Companies like MacNair Travel Management offer a reminder to use these tickets on their corporate online booking sites, we offer reporting of the unused tickets to travel managers, and the cost of exchanging tickets is readily available on travel management summary reports. So yes this is yet another reason to manage and consolidate travel if your volume and losses are a concern and are significant.
Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate, has been pressing airlines to account for the amount that have gone unused. At least you can take on is responsibility for your organization and deliver even more value. Current open booking trends can make this process more complicated but in a managed program, it is easy to control.