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Businesses could hold $400K in unused travel tickets

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Today, cancellations are less common (Jan 2021 recorded a 24% bookings-to-cancellations ratio, compared to the 334% we saw in March 2021) however, any one company could still hold hundreds of thousands of dollars of unused ticket value, as they deliberate the timing of restarting non-essential work travel.

In the first three months of 2019, consumers and businesses spent some $32 billion in airfare in the US alone - $6.5 billion (5%) of which was left sitting on the Tarmac in the form of unused tickets. Imagine where that unused ticket figure is today! Leading travel management platform, TripAction has looked into this issue and what it means for businesses, especially as expiration dates to claim unused credit fast approaches.

TripActions data found that a single unused US ticket credit on TripActions holds an average value of $482, a company that typically spends $5M per year in airfare could therefore be holding more than $400K in unused ticket value, based on the increase in unused credit transaction usage.

Many travelers and some travel managers aren't familiar with the process of tracking and applying unused flight credits, a process that historically has been extremely manual, involving phone calls and direct management of itineraries. This has meant that they tend not to realise they can get this money back.

An analysis of TripActions data also shows that expiration dates are approaching fast - meaning many businesses will be considerably out of pocket. Of the unused ticket credits in TripActions’ database, 55% are set to expire in 2021.

Other key stats from the data:

  • Today, cancellations are less common (Jan 2021 recorded a 24% bookings-to-cancellations ratio, compared to the 334% we saw in March 2021) however, any one company could still hold hundreds of thousands of dollars of unused ticket value, as they deliberate the timing of restarting non-essential work travel.
  • Of those unused ticket credits with an expiration date this year, 5% have already expired and 30% have been used, leaving 59% open, with another 6% only partially used.
  • While the bulk of the credits with a 2021 expiration date won’t expire until the end of the year (57%), 28% of unused ticket credits expire in Q1.

TripActions’ data shows that the share of bookings made with unused ticket credits, which historically comprises 1–2% of new bookings, has jumped 167% since April. Now, 8% of all new flight bookings are made with ticket credits - aided by a new automated process in TripActions that identifies and automatically applies the unused value to new flight bookings.

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