What is airfare price tracking?
Airfare price tracking is also known as price assurance, airfare re-shopping, or fare auditing and is used by corporations to reduce the risk that when their employees travel for business the fares that they pay aren’t overinflated or cost the company more than they should.
Companies can spend significant amounts of money moving their employees around the world to engage with clients as consultants, to sell and close deals, to manage customer relationships, as engineers that require on-site presence. Even during periods of uncertainty, business-critical travel exists. Deloitte leads the Business Travel News Top 100 spending north of $500 million in the US alone just on air travel. Airfare price tracking reduces the risk of paying for flights during a pricing spike and ensures a fair market price is paid instead.
Why is airfare price tracking important?
Airfare price tracking is important because when your travelers book essential travel during a pricing spike, your finance team can rest assured that when prices drop (either during the void window or after it) price assurance providers such as FairFly will catch the drop and work with your TMC to lock in those savings.
Before COVID-19, airfares fluctuated on average around 70 times between being published and the departure date, currently with airline revenue management systems pushed to their limits, this figure can be over 100. Data over the past few months show significantly higher price volatility by between 10 and 30 per cent of normal.
How does airfare price tracking work?
Most airfare price trackers will have already developed integrations with the three main Global Distribution Systems (GDS) and have, upon authorisation, access to all PNRs booked by a company’s travelers. FairFly for example then uses a proprietary algorithm to maximise the efficiency of and continually scan for price fluctuations from booking, through and beyond the void window until departure.
Once a ‘net-of-all-TMC-and-airline-fees‘ price drop is found, an automated instruction is sent to the TMC’s GDS queue to rebook the fare. If the original PNR is in the void period then the re-shopped fare can be made without the typical airline cancellation fees. All of this is done behind the scenes with very limited resources from either travel managers or their TMCs, and in many cases can be automated.
Does airfare price tracking only work on flexible fares?
No. As there are multiple fare rules that govern cancellation costs there are opportunities for saving even with the most restrictive fare rules. There are also considerable savings to be made by strategically switching travelers from flexible fares to less flexible fares a few days before departure where the likelihood of travel is much, much higher.
Does airfare price tracking disrupt the traveler?
In cases where a new PNR is generated for a new ticket, the traveler is simply alerted to this and the OBT is updated accordingly. FairFly has never seen this cause disruption across the millions of PNRs we’ve scanned. Additionally, there are ways to exclude certain groups of travelers such as VIPs or C-Suite executives for that added peace of mind. Our policy is ‘Same Flight, Same Cabin, Same Experience’ and in the majority of cases, the same seat for your travelers.
What is the best airfare price tracker?
The best airfare price tracker depends on the level of independence you’re looking for and global reach of your program. To avoid the ‘fox in the hen-house’ it’s always best to seek a provider that is TMC and GDS agnostic so that travel managers are confident that re-shopping success and data insights are independently provided and without bias.
TMC price assurance solutions are typically restricted to certain geographical regions or function only within the void window, this can be useful if your organization wants a basic solution. Be mindful that these solutions don’t provide for pan-program insights, or on multiple TMCs so you may not necessarily be able to roll this out globally.
GDS level tools exist, although they are restricted by definition to the GDS that provides them and like the TMC solutions, very restricted in the timing and geography of the price tracking.
Typically FairFly sees an increase of around 70% of savings when using an independent price assurance solution that tracks prices until departure and on a global level.