Grasp Links with Traxo to Capture Off-Channel Bookings

Corporate travel data and analytics provider Grasp Technologies has partnered with off-channel booking capture specialist Traxo to offer Grasp clients a more complete picture of travel booking activity and spending. 

Under the alliance, Grasp will leverage Traxo’s platform to gather information from bookings made outside a company’s approved channels, such as those made via direct supplier websites or consumer-facing online travel agencies. An average of 40 percent of all bookings made by Grasp clients from 2017 through 2019 took place through non-approved channels, according to the company. 

Under terms of the partnership, Grasp also will use Traxo internally for its own business travel, while Grasp has been added to Traxo’s third-party marketplace network. 

Traxo in July partnered with professional services provider ZS Associates, itself a Traxo client, to offer a new travel and expense analytics service to other corporate travel departments. That launch followed Traxo partnerships with duty of care provider Safeture, price assurance specialist Smart Hotel Rate and hotel program automation developer BTP Automation. And in 2020, Traxo rolled out a TMC-focused service, with Fox World Travel as its first TMC 

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Traxo Tabs Butler to Lead Global Sales

Off-channel booking capture provider Traxo has named former Upside Business Travel head of commercial sales Brian Butler to the newly created role of chief sales officer. Based in Washington, D.C., Butler will oversee Traxo’s global sales activities, including the company’s growing network of partnerships with other travel providers, and reports to Traxo CEO Andris Fabris. 

Butler has nearly two decades of experience leading sales, supplier relations and customer success functions at travel providers including Upside, Hertz and corporate travel management companies Radius and Adtrav. He most recently served as vice president of sales for marketing intelligence startup SalesIntel.

Traxo said it created the new role due to a “surge in demand” for the company’s off-channel booking capture solutions in light of an increased emphasis on corporate duty-of-care responsibilities as business travel returns amid Covid-19. 

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Traxo Partners to Bring Corp. Rate Assurance to Off-Channel Hotel Bookings

Off-channel booking capture provider Traxo and price assurance specialist Smart Hotel Rate have teamed up for a new service to automatically ensure corporate hotel rates are applied to reservations made directly with preferred hotels, the companies announced.

The service, which the companies describe as a “first-of-its-kind” solution, combines Traxo’s email reservation parsing capabilities—which power its previously existing off-channel booking-capture tool—with the price assurance platform of Smart Hotel Rate. Launched in 2019 by New York City-based business travel technology startup Ansero Inc., Smart Hotel Rate compares a travel buyer’s negotiated rates and amenities for a given supplier with actual bookings to determine if the offered rate was correct.

For in-channel bookings, Smart Hotel Rate gleans that booking data from global distribution systems, with permission from the corporate client. But that method doesn’t capture out-of-channel bookings, which is where Traxo comes in. 

When a traveler booking directly with a hotel receives a confirmation email, Traxo parses that email and sends the relevant data to Smart Hotel Rate, which validates the rate against the negotiated terms. If a discrepancy is found, Smart Hotel Rate alerts the hotel, which corrects the rate and sends a new confirmation email, beginning the cycle anew. (Traxo also forwards booking data to the corporate client’s duty-of-care provider.)

Ensuring negotiated hotel rates are loaded properly and offered during booking is a longstanding and time-consuming issue for corporate travel buyers, even within the context of in-channel bookings. While automated rate assurance solutions do exist, the majority operate through corporates’ preferred online booking tools, meaning direct bookings can slip through the cracks. 

That disconnect leaves savings on the table for many companies; a study by DVI found that average hotel leakage rates in 2019 approached 50 percent of overall category spend. And discrepancies sometimes aren’t discovered until well after the fact, when the traveler submits an expense report and the booked rate can be compared with the negotiated rate. Discrepancies must then be sorted out manually with the hotel. 

By automating that process and looking to ensure direct-booked rates are correct on the front end, the combination of Traxo’s and Smart Hotel Rate’s services addresses those problems, according to the companies. Additionally, the service could provide more accurate visibility into room nights booked with a given supplier—data that buyers can then leverage in future hotel sourcing negotiations, leading to further savings, they said.

The service is offered to mutual clients at no additional charge, and no direct integration with hotels is required, the companies said. 

As travel re-emerges from its Covid-19-induced deep-freeze, it remains to be seen what effect the pandemic will have on off-channel booking behavior as a whole. Some companies plan to implement pre-trip approvalmandates—or already have done so—and hygiene and safety concerns may drive travelers themselves to be more careful about adhering to their companies’ preferred programs, at least at first.

On the other hand, the pandemic’s effect on many companies’ bottom line in many cases has led to more flexibility around direct booking, according to Traxo CEO Andres Fabris. 

“With travel budgets being seriously cut back, companies are actually opening up more booking channels so employees can get the best rates with minimal transaction fees,” Fabris said. “So, we’re seeing a move toward hybrid programs that embrace both TMC and supplier-direct channels. We anticipate that hotel … direct bookings will continue to hover around 50 percent for the foreseeable future.” 

Smart Hotel Rate co-CEO John Packel added that, as travel resumes, it will be more vital than ever for travel managers to keep tabs on traveling employees, regardless of what booking channel they use. 

“The pandemic has had massive impacts, but we expect the rationale for some travelers to book hotels directly will remain strong,” said Packel. “And further, increased duty-of-care requirements make it all the more imperative for companies to have visibility into 100 percent of bookings, and [the new service] helps ensure that duty-of-care coverage.”

Amid the increased premium on booking visibility industrywide, Dallas-based Traxo recently has been working to grow its distribution network by pairing its platform with those of other providers. Earlier this month, Traxo partnered with Sweden-based duty-of-care specialist Safeture to cross-sell the companies’ services to their respective clients. Traxo also rolled out a TMC-based distribution model in September 2020. 

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Safeture Links with Traxo to Capture Off-Channel Bookings

Sweden-based employee risk management provider Safeture now is offering its corporate clients the option to use off-channel booking capture specialist Traxo to enhance visibility into the locations of their business travelers, the companies announced. 

Under Safeture’s new add-on service, Traxo technology automatically import all employee travel information—including flight, hotel and ground transport—contained in booking confirmation emails sent to employee email addresses into Safeture’s duty of care platform, reducing blind spots for travel managers. Subsequent trip cancellations, changes or updates also automatically flow into Safeture, the companies said. 

Meanwhile, existing Traxo clients now can sign on with Safeture via the Traxo Marketplace, the company’s third-party distribution platform. Traxo clients who sign with Safeture via the Traxo Marketplace are offered the same integration opportunity, Traxo said. 

Out-of-channel booking activity has remained a stubborn problem for some corporate travel managers; a recent survey by DVI found that an average of 31 percent of respondent companies’ travel spend in 2019 was booked outside of preferred channels. In addition to hindering travel managers’ duty of care responsibilities—which have been magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic—that lack of visibility into spend also hinders companies’ ability to effectively budget for travel, calculate return on travel investment and negotiate with suppliers, according to some observers. 

 Safeture, which said it provides duty-of-care services for more than 3,500 client companies in 190 countries, was one of the first risk monitoring specialists to roll out a Covid-19 virus tracking function, doing so in late February 2020 as the virus spread into Europe from its early stages in Asia. 

Dallas-headquartered Traxo in September 2020 began distributing its email capture technology through travel management companies, which are facing increased client demand for enhanced visibility into employee travel activity amid the ongoing pandemic. 

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