The Out Box
| BTE July 2011
Is Big Brother Really Watching?
In this month’s Managed Travel ROI feature (page 8), Greeley Koch makes the observation that “we always think that someone is reviewing policy compliance, auditing the expense reports, or otherwise looking over our shoulders.” Well, apparently not everyone. According to a new survey commissioned by expense management solutions provider Concur, nearly one-fifth (19.3 percent) of private sector employees in the UK admit to having submitted a false expense claim at least once. This figure was even higher for employees in the public sector (22.1 percent).
The research, conducted by Opinionmatters.co.uk among 1,050 public and private sector employees, shows that submitting padded claims is not just a ‘one-and-done’ for a significant percentage. In fact, one in five (19.6 percent) public sector employees admitted to either submitting fraudulent expenses ‘occasionally’ (11.9 percent) or ‘all of the time’ (7.7 percent). For the private sector the news is somewhat better, with 8.3 percent acknowledging fudging the numbers ‘occasionally’ and only 4.5 percent claiming they do it ‘all the time.’
Better news comes on the other side of the research, where two-thirds (66.4 percent) of private sector employees and 58.2 percent of public sector employees say they would never consider submitting a false expense report. Interestingly, among both public and private sector employees, almost the same number — about 12 percent — said they’d never submitted a false claim because they knew they wouldn’t get away with it.
Stay in Touch
Keeping travelers informed, and in some cases, providing them constant reminders seems to yield a better rate of travel policy compliance. That’s been the experience reported among users of Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s CWT Program Messenger (formerly known as CWT Policy Messenger).
CWT says the system sent one million messages in 2010, resulting in 4-7 percent cost savings in total travel program spend for clients who use the service. The company adds that it expects the number of messages to reach three million this year.
CWT Program Messenger enables companies to manage their travel programs more effectively through targeted e-mail alerts regarding travel policy and other trip-related information. That promotes policy compliance and in turn cost savings.
The application is being used for more than strict policy compliance, says Pauline Queré, CWT’s vice president for global customer product marketing: “For instance, customers use CWT Program Messenger to promote rail or travel alternatives to reduce their carbon footprint or to tell travelers about ground transportation options or critical safety and security guidelines.”
Settings in the application can be changed to adapt to users’ changing priorities. Such has been the case at Alcatel-Lucent, a global telecommunications company based in France. “Addressing travelers individually is essential to reinforce compliance with our corporate travel policy,” explains Pierre Lau, vice president of procurement. “We use CWT Program Messenger to develop travelers’ awareness about the cost impact of improper booking behavior. We have identified some areas where there was some room for improvement and configured the application to specifically address those issues corresponding to key cost-reduction initiatives.” Among the tangible benefits: “a much better respect of our booking channels for hotel reservations.”
Trusted Traveler Program One Step Closer
A new survey commissioned by the US Travel Association shows an overwhelming majority of both frequent business and leisure travelers want a better airport security experience and most would be willing to pay for it. The survey of more than 1,000 adults asked how likely they would be to enroll in a trusted traveler program that offered expedited, risk-based screening at major US airports for US citizens who pay an annual enrollment fee of between $100-150 and undergo a background check. Responses revealed 45 percent of all travelers were very/somewhat likely to enroll, 61 percent of frequent leisure travelers were very/somewhat likely to enroll, and 75 percent of frequent business travelers were very/somewhat likely to enroll.
Evidently, the Transportation Security Administration is getting behind the idea. In testimony before Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in June, TSA administrator John Pistole said that TSA intends to work with US airlines to collect information on those travelers “willing to share information about themselves” to help TSA “make informed judgments.”
“We hope to be piloting some initiatives starting this fall in select airports,” Pistole told the Committee, testing some form of trusted traveler program that would speed airport screening for frequent travelers. “We want to spend as much time as possible on those that we don’t know much about,” instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to security screenings. “The challenge, as we know,” Pistole added, “becomes the practical application of that.”
Over A Barrel
PKF Hospitality Research (PKF-HR) says the US lodging industry will see minimal disruption if oil prices reach $125 per barrel price in 2011. However, if prices surge to $150 a barrel, the recovery that the hotels are currently enjoying could be severely curtailed.
The analysis, contained in a new report titled “Oil Prices and Lodging Risk,” was authored by John B. Corgel, the Robert C. Baker Professor of Real Estate at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and a senior advisor to PKF-HR; and Jamie Lane, a research associate.
Over the two year period, 2011 and 2012, covered by the study, RevPAR (revenue per available room) would increase just 10.1 percent if oil prices reach the $125, says Lane. “However, if oil prices were to surge to $150 a barrel, RevPAR growth would be limited to a very modest 6.9 percent.”
The PKF-HR Hotel Horizons® econometric forecasting model relies on economic data from Moody’s Analytics to project future hotel demand levels. In April of 2011 Moody’s Analytics created two “oil spike” economic forecasts around a hypothetical future where prices increase to either a high of $125 or $150 a barrel by the fourth quarter 2011. PKF-HR used these hypothetical economic scenarios to forecast RevPAR for the US lodging industry through 2013.
“Moody’s highlights the low probability of these oil spike scenarios. We believe that oil prices could have a profound impact on future revenue should those prices either get ahead of the economy from speculation or if political unrest accelerates. For these reasons, the price of oil should be on everyone’s radar when planning for the future,” concludes Corgel.
“Taxi Driver” Meets “Days Of Thunder”
New York City taxis, world renowned for their race car driving style, put their reputation to the test against NASCAR’S best at the Energy 500 at Pocono (PA) Raceway, June 12.
The legendary No. 43, made famous by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, took on the livery of a New York City taxi — authentic taxi yellow, a black and white checker bottom, and the iconic logo of hailing a taxi that is seen on every one of the 13,237 yellow taxis. The Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) Ford Fusion is sponsored by Medallion Financial, which is a co-owner of RPM through its wholly-owned subsidiary Medallion Capital, Inc. Medallion Financial has made billions of dollars in loans to taxi owners, and its wholly-owned subsidiary Medallion Bank has bought and originated hundreds of millions of dollars in recreational vehicle and boat loans to many NASCAR fans around the country.
But alas, the day was not to belong to the cabbies, as driver A J Allmendinger finished 25th in a field of 43. NASCAR veteran Jeff Gordon took the win.