Travel Ancillary Fees Need Standard Metric

Ancillary fees -- from airlines, hotels and car rentals -- are getting more attention these days. And for good reason: travel and meetings managers want to get their hands on some idea of measurement of ancillary fees so that they can manage them.
Again, this is a good thing. In a article covering the subject, eBay manager of global travel and supplier management Laura Hodgkinson was asked a few years ago by senior management what the firm was spending on ancillary fees. At the time, she didn't know, but made it her business to find out. The answer was attained by working with her expense-reporting vendor to design a way that travelers could more easily report. The answer was uncovered: $211,000 in airline ancillary fees.

I like to talk about ancillary fees because I think it's critical that companies track them so that they can budget for them more accurately and, if possible, negotiate with airlines and other vendors to reduce or eliminate them. In the piece, Hodgkinson said that her company has been negotiating on ancillary fees with hotels for years, for example, for free breakfast and in-room wi-fi. But now that she knows exactly what she's spending on checked bag fees and the like, she can start the same strategy with the carriers.

Bravo to Hodgkinson. And while the article in mentioned "workarounds" to capture data that exist within different areas of the industry, for example, from AirPlus and Concur, what we really need is an industry-standard measuring stick to help companies find out their own exposure to ancillary fees!

I've always got an ear open for more information about how the fees are affecting companies' travel and meetings volumes, and I'll be sure to report what I find here. In the meantime, I'd love to hear about how you're tracking ancillary fees, and what you're doing with the information once you find it. Please share here!

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.