As the global community scrambled to come to terms with the impact of COVID-19 back in March, the travel industry was bracing for the closure of borders and a wave of cancellations requiring an unprecedented demand for assistance to hit our industry. There was very little money coming into the industry and with millions of flight cancellations, a huge number of travellers had their trips disrupted. Airlines needed to do their best to find solutions for their customers but in this unprecedented situation, there were no easy solutions. Some managed it better than others with a commonality being that refunds were going to take much longer to be processed.
Passengers have the right to get their money for an involuntary cancellation, as they paid for a service that couldn’t be delivered. In normal circumstances, repayment would not be an issue – but these were, and are not, normal circumstances. From the initial closure of borders, Orbit quickly responded to position operational teams with the skills and expertise in rebooking and refunding to provide immediate assistance. While we had the resourcing to make adjustments to our normal operational methods to request passenger refunds, unfortunately due the nature of our supply chain, many of our airline partners in particular, just couldn’t keep up with the demand. We are pleased to say that the initial wave of refunds and reissues has now been cleared. But what about the future. What can businesses do to manage costs and reduce risk around cancellations as they look to travel management plans beyond COVID-19.
- Choosing the Right Supply Partners
Choosing the right partners for your supply chain is vital to ensure you are able to deliver your products and services on time, at the right price, and in compliance with your quality standards. By implementing specific supplier selection criteria, it’s possible to identify companies that will work with you to meet the demands of your travelers while, in these challenging times, managing risk in areas of not only health and safety, but finance. Our Client Services team, Supplier Partnership team and Operations team are in constant contact with our supplier network. We are working with our industry associations and sharing knowledge and insights in what the future might hold. We encourage our clients to do the same and to speak with our Client Services team to help source the right partners for your supply network, so you can manage the financial implications through the crisis and be ready to travel when better days arrive.
- Policy Compliance and Approval
Historically, businesses may have been happy to accept a lower priced ticket which often came at a price – a higher risk of fees should you need to cancel. It may be timely to consider your policy and ensure your travel policy is adequate and that approval processes are in place to reduce your exposure to financial risk. Fortunately, Orbit Request can assist to provide our customers with the immediate ability to not only access cost saving supplier initiatives but also configured to direct travellers to choices which better suit the current travel landscape.
- Use Technology to Limit your Exposure
Orbit has been providing our customers with online, immediate visibility and uptake capability of your unused tickets for several years now – launching Orbit Credits in 2010. Users of Orbit Enterprise can see their tickets in credit on the landing page and Travel Managers can run reports with the simple click of a button. We’ve also made selecting an unused ticket as a form of payment for upcoming travel easy, convenient and cost effective.
One of our key propositions to our customers has always been to ensure they have the best technology available and the data they need to drive costs down. The digital management of ticket credits has been an incredible breakthrough in recent years and will continue to play an important role in contributing to our clients financial and business success as we look forward to the future of travel in a post COVID-19 world.