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Lesley's Column

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19th September 2016

Why audit airfares?

Travel management companies are employed to find the best airfares on the market, but how do you ensure your TMC is doing its job?

Auditing is common practice in the US but almost unheard of in Europe. It appears the majority of travel managers rely on travellers finding cheaper fares, which is then followed up with the TMC.

Options for penalising the TMC for failure to provide the lowest fares include a fare guarantee statement – where the TMC is required to refund the difference if the client finds a like-for-like fare that is cheaper – or paying the cost of audit should the results fall below agreed targets.

TMCs are usually happy to include such agreements as they know their clients rarely audit.

So why consider an airfare audit? It is becoming harder to guarantee a TMC will identify the best airfare.

Not all fares can be found on the Global Distribution Systems (GDS) anymore. Budget carriers and traditional airlines sell some of their fares exclusively via the web, for example, and that means TMCs have to check more fares via multiple channels to ensure they find the right one.

The results of an audit can prove to be a useful tool as a response to travellers saying they are not being offered the lowest fare available.

Auditing should be part of any service level agreement [SLA] with a TMC. The SLA should specify how the fares will be audited and how often, plus the consequences for the TMC if its performance is found wanting.

There is, of course, a cost attached to the auditing process itself. For most businesses, however, it is an investment worth contemplating.