The MacNair Travel Leadership Blog

Virtual Payment Systems are a Travel Prepayment Game Changer

Posted by Mike MacNair on Jul 2, 2015 11:00:00 AM

virtual-payment-systems-are-a-travel-prepayment-game-changerVirtual payment systems allow for fast and secure prepayment of air, hotel, and car charges for staff and non-staff alike. Travelers without access to corporate cards often require this type of virtual prepayment. While travel has always been easy to handle with an organization’s business travel account, hotel prepayment is difficult and insecure at times when using a corporate card, requiring a faxed copy of the card to the hotel front desk. Car is also often a challenge unless you establish a prepayment system directly with the car rental firm. Companies who send travelers to second and third world countries also find that the current corporate card system doesn’t work and virtual payment can offer many advantages.

There are many challenges to the current system. TMCs often find themselves doing a lot of faxing and direct billing with credit cards that are in their top customers’ names. You can imagine how many times customers call saying their credit card company called to hold up charges or question them. You have a card number with a million different stays and reconciliation becomes a nightmare. On a monthly basis, many TMCs spend time with their customers helping reconcile the file. Data on these transactions is difficult to secure as it’s a cumbersome process. Travelers often get hung up by the hotel since a fax as a form of payment isn’t the norm. Fraud is a huge problem.

Learn About The Top Travel Technology Tools 

Recently, new tools, like the globalVCard product offered by CSI, have presented themselves to securely prepay for these items. This no-cost corporate travel solution combines a virtual credit card system, mobile payment app and purchasing card to provide your business with powerful spending control and automated processes that integrate with a TMC via an API. These single use virtual cards eliminate the risk of stored credit card data with all the benefits and fraud protection of the MasterCard® network for air, hotel, and car reservations enabling direct payments for employees and non-employees like contractors, board members, and candidates traveling on your behalf. By enabling an easy process that captures more of these bookings within your managed travel system, preferred and in policy vendor selections can go way up.

Agents fill in information from a drop-down menu to create a one-time-use, 16-digit number that works only for a specific merchant and amount and has an expiration date. One click also faxes the reservation and card information to the hotel. One card number per transaction greatly simplifies reconciliation with customized data fields (traveler, hotel, geo codes, job codes, and anything in the required and user-defined fields). This data can also be moved electronically to reconciliation ensuring robust reporting and tracking, any way you need it. Reservation data is pushed to the traveler’s mobile device for convenient access and real-time tracking of trip expenditures against the budget keeps travelers accountable. A hotel’s required credit card authorization form is faxed 72, 36 and 24 hours prior to arrival. The traveler has the ability to push a manual fax from their mobile device at check-in, if needed as a backup. 

A TMC can charge less for the process because it’s even less work. It is more efficient and secure for the traveler, and the finance teams of companies can go from one week to less than an hour of reconciling both air central bill and virtual card. Travelers seem to like the product, yet they may mention that they no longer receive card reward points. The company now collects those, though travelers still receive hotel reward points.

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