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Unused Ticket Credits: Strategies to optimise your travel budget post-COVID-19

Travel Managers have always played a critical role in managing and redeeming highly valuable unused ticket credits held by their company. In the post-COVID-19 recovery era, this task has never been more important.

With government-imposed travel restrictions and event cancellations triggering wide-spread travel cancellations, coupled with the added complexity of employee stand-downs and redundancies, the process of managing unused tickets is likely to become overwhelming for businesses which lack an efficient method for managing their ticket credits.

Thousands, if not millions, of dollars in unused ticket credits are at stake for many businesses as they prepare their travel programs and budgets for the year ahead. The ability to easily identify, manage and redeem the value of unused ticket credits will be paramount for any company that travels for business.

CTM has long demonstrated the value of intuitive, automated ticket credit management tools as a key driver of cost optimisation and efficiency for our customers. Our ticket credit management tools enable businesses to efficiently and easily track and monitor all unused ticket credits within the CTM Portal, as well as redeem unused credits as a form of payment on new travel bookings in the Lightning online booking tool.

Unused Ticket Credits: Frequently Asked Questions

What is an unused ticket credit?

An unused ticket credit refers to the value of a non-refundable air ticket (less penalties / fees) which can be retained as a credit for use towards a new travel booking. The airline’s fare restrictions will determine if a fare is fully, partially or non-refundable, and whether a ticket credit is permitted.

Sometimes unused ticket credits are referred to as ‘Tickets on Hold’ or ‘Segments on Hold’.

Are there different types of unused ticket credits?

  • Fully unused ticket credits: When a ticket is completely unused – that is, no portions of the ticketed itinerary have been travelled – it is known as a ‘fully unused ticket credit’. Typically, these types of credits can be name-changed. This is an important consideration when looking to utilise the value of unused ticket credits for employees who may have been stood-down or made redundant as a result of COVID-19, enabling the value of the fully unused tickets to be transferred to another traveller.
  • Partially unused ticket credits: When a portion of the ticket has been utilised and the value of the remaining portion is placed into credit it is known as a ‘Partially unused ticket credit’. These credits cannot be name-changed.

What is a name change?

Name changes are defined as using the value of a fully unused ticket credit towards payment for a new ticket in another traveller’s name.  Airlines generally require these credits to be upgraded to a flexi fare prior to reissuing in the new traveller’s name.

How long is an unused ticket credit valid for?

Many airlines have introduced temporary conditions for ticket credits arising from COVID-19 travel restrictions to provide businesses with greater flexibility. Under normal circumstances however, unused ticket credits should normally be redeemed and travel must be completed within 12 months of the original ticket issue date. Please contact your CTM travel consultant or account manager to discuss specific airline measures that may affect your unused ticket credits.

Common redemption conditions

  • The new ticket must be of equal or higher value than the unused ticket credit value.
  • Unused ticket credits must be redeemed for travel on the original ticketed airline – eg, a Virgin Australia credit cannot be used for a Qantas booking.
  • Multiple credits cannot be redeemed against a single ticket.

5 strategies to optimise your travel budget post-COVID-19: Unused Ticket Credits

1)    Pro-actively monitor impacted flights to secure future travel credits

Do you have consolidated access to all travel bookings impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions? Have you identified the standard fare conditions and any extenuating COVID-19 fare rules that may apply for cancellation, date and name changes on your tickets? Have you actioned booking cancellations prior to travel to avoid no-show fees?

CTM’s account management teams are working pro-actively on behalf of our customers to identify all impacted travel bookings and secure ticket credits where possible on all bookings that meet the airline’s COVID-19 waiver policy or standard fare rules.

 

Unused ticket credit report

 

2)    Centralised ticket credit reporting

Ensuring your team has complete visibility of available ticket credits and a means to redeeming them prior to expiry will be key to maximising your travel budget for the year ahead and predicting future budget needs.

The CTM Portal enables travel managers and travel bookers to view all available unused ticket credits in  one single location, based on their user permissions. This centralised ticket credit repository enables users to view and sort available ticket credits by creation date or expiry date, and filter by airline, passenger, department or cost centre.

Users can see the total number of tickets and total credit value available in a single report and, with a single click, drill-down into the details of each available ticket credit.

This provides your travel team with a visual prompt of available credits and encourages the use of outstanding ticket credits for future bookings to maximise savings and efficiency.

The CTM Portal’s unused ticket credit tool also simplifies credit management and finance reporting by enabling data to be exported as a .csv file. This is a complimentary feature offered to all CTM customers, consolidating all credits regardless of booking source; via the travel consultant, the CTM Mobile app, Lightning online booking tool or your choice of 3rd party OBT.

 

3)    Automated ticket credit redemption as a form of payment

CTM customers can redeem unused ticket credits as a form of payment against future bookings within the Lightning online booking tool.

When a new travel booking meets the requirements of an available ticket credit (for example, flying on the same airline, for the same traveller, where the new booking value exceeds the value of the unused ticket credit) Lightning will automatically allocate all applicable unused ticket credits within the Shopping Cart for use as a form of payment. This innovative feature encourages maximum redemption of available ticket credits prior to expiry, reducing your travel spend.

Should a user choose not to redeem an auto-allocated ticket credit against the new booking, the credit is simply removed from the Shopping Cart and retained for future use until its expiry date.

 

Redeem unused ticket credits

 

4)    Offline ticket credit redemption

CTM provides customers with a range of solutions to maximise the redemption of unused ticket credits regardless of your booking channel.

In the offline environment, CTM’s travel consultants have access to our customers’ available ticket credits and will prioritise the redemption of available credits as a form of payment where possible to minimise wastage. Our approach to ticket credit redemption is always designed in consultation with the customer’s needs and preferences, and can be aligned to specific business unit, department and cost centre needs.

 

5)    Track credit forfeiture to maximise compliance

Equally important is the ability to monitor the redemption and forfeiture of available ticket credits to identify missed savings opportunities and compliance concerns that are negatively impacting your travel budget.

CTM provides regular customer reporting and travel program reviews to identify a range of missed savings opportunities and non-compliance, including the forfeiture of available ticket credits. We work hand-in-hand with our customers to identify opportunities for travel program optimisation – including ways to enhance booking behaviour, fare class usage and technology adoption – to drive savings and efficiency via proactive reporting, consultation, training and booking support.

To discuss these strategies and many more ways to maximise your travel budget in a post-COVID-19 travel environment, contact CTM today