A Framework for Evaluating "Open Booking"

Ethan Laub is the founder and CEO of TripScanner, an "open booking" solution for small and midsized companies, following a stint as director of client management at American Express Global Business Travel.

In our industry, there are few topics as highly charged as "open booking." This is because, for some, it represents an existential threat, while for others it is simply a passing fancy fueled by industry pundits, consultants and technology companies.

For my part, I believe the truth lies somewhere in between. TMCs, GDSs and other pillars of the "traditional" managed travel model continue to offer great value, particularly for large, complex travel programs. However, "open booking" technologies came about to solve a real and growing problem. Compliance rates are falling as a new generation of business travelers favors the user experience and vast content of consumer booking sites and apps.

With all of the emotion involved, it is no wonder that companies are perplexed about open booking and are looking for guidance on whether, and how, they should leverage these technologies to support their travel program.

I would like to offer a simple framework, which can serve as a useful starting point for these conversations. Each company is unique, with its own culture, traveler needs, internal processes and supplier leverage. Each of these characteristics should be considered when determining if open booking can add value for an organization.

Companies are struggling with compliance, and are looking to their TMCs, consultants, and technology providers for a solution. It should be our goal, collectively, to help them evaluate open booking in an objective manner, so they can decide if, and how, it can benefit their travel program.