E-Travel Price Resistance

» Posted by on Feb 4, 2015 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

When e-travel first came to our agency, some of the strongest resistance came from this new database cost transparency; all the different fees were a significant point of stakeholder resistance and later an indicator of evolving cultural change.  Price sensitivity has been changing as people become more accustomed to e-travel.

As E-travel came on line, some of the most vocal complaints that we heard from the program offices and individual travelers involved the sudden “appearance” of fees for booking online or going through an agent.  The fee schedule was confusing and could be complex.  Many claimed that they had never had to pay the fees before (they had, but often they were considered part of the ticket price), and there were a lot of complaints about having to pay fees if the traveler was “doing all the work” to book the travel on line. A good part of the initial outreach involved educating people about the fees, and how to budget for the fees when planning travel. Our government travel staff provided a working estimate for a “typical” online and agent-assisted ticket, and that helped programs simplify their budgeting which also reduced their anxiety about having enough funds on hand on the authorization.  Over the last three or four years travelers have become much less sensitive to changes in the ticket fees.

Today, we have seen the price sensitivity shift from the really minor cost of ticketing fees to more requests for waivers from having to use the city-pairs contract tickets.  This becomes a major issue particularly during the first quarter of the fiscal year and the very end of the fourth quarter when funds are in short supply.  Congress’s perpetual inability to pass a budget in a timely manner exacerbates the problem because continuing resolutions only provide a portion of an agency’s budget with a 10% reduction from the prior fiscal year.  When a researcher has travel scheduled several months in advance timed to attend a conference or do field research, it is not feasible to simply delay the trip.  This larger price sensitivity is also a long-term issue for GSA’s City-Pair program that will have to be addressed in future City-Pair negotiations if the program is to continue to be viable.  The paying programs and their travelers have become much more sophisticated in their use of the e-travel systems, both government and private, and they are expecting more from the government programs as well.

by Julie Speers

Submit a Comment