by Luis Yofe, SVP, CSI globalVCard Travel
Moderating the panel on ACTE TV was a new and very interesting experience for me. I was pleasantly surprised by the high level of audience participation through live surveys and numerous questions throughout the webinar. We started getting questions immediately after the first round of comments from the panel all the way to the closing remarks. It felt like a live cable TV show!
The key point I took away from this session was that there is a strong need for additional education and discussions surrounding implementing virtual cards and best practices for gaining acceptance. There is great interest in virtual payments, but just like all emerging technologies, there is a period of hesitation and opportunity for early adopters. Some hotels are still hesitant about acceptance and travelers may experience friction, so we need to work together to educate and be change agents. We are clearly moving in the direction of large-scale adoption and in a couple of years, virtual cards will be as common as plastic.
This panel session was a very positive experience – the other panelists were exceptionally knowledgeable and had great experiences to share about implementing programs in their own organizations. Preparing with Teri, Ryan and Adam was a joy and I look forward to future discussions!
Below you will find answers to questions that the panelists could not answer during the live broadcast of Virtual Card Strategy: Finding & Implementing Your Solution.
What are the best reconciliation practices when it comes to the TMC and the card provider?
Using the virtual card number as a unique key for each transaction, facilitates the matching and reconciliation greatly. You will have data 100% of the time.
How is your accounting department reconciling your vpay?
Our Recruiting team does the reconciation off a report from the Conferma product and compares to the Amex statement. Its more of a spot check as most should auto reconcile within the tool.
How long does the process take from start to finish to implement?
Depends on many things like scope, resources, etc. We chose to do one specific group in the US and will plan on expanding. Now that we have the foundation set, it should be relatives easy to scale. We had our up and running in 3 months…but that was taking into consideration IT resources as well as other projects we had going on at the same time.
How does invoicing work? Do you need to contact hotels afterwards to get the invoices?
Currently we are not collecting hotel folios. We are verifying from our reservations and the Amercican Express Bill. We are just about to do our first reconciliation in a few weeks. I do know that our provider does have folio collection slated as an additional service to be looked at at a later date.
Have any of you had success with automating payments to your card providers?
We just changed our Expense payments from a 3rd party to an internal Host2Host as we do with our payables.
What is the name of the 3rd party company you utilized?
We use Conferma through BCD.
Does the virtuall card system encourage additional transaction fees and agent assisted fees with TMC?
There are transaction fees but its minimal in comparison to the time to reconcile and collect folios as we do today. Does not increase agent fess as we have a dedicated desk for Recruiting reservations and this is just a new Form of Payment.
Have there been instances that the hotels state they did not get the fax when the employee is checking out of hotel?
Havent had that scenario yet. We are working with our preferred recruiting hotels now..and have had some front desk attendees call and inquire but we are educting at the time of call as well. We did send out inital notifications as to the new process. We have only been live for about 2 weeks. So far so good.
Can there be a static card attached with Virtual card to use it as guarantee?
That I dont know… you would need to inquire with the product and card provider.
Can you go through the experience from start to end ? Is anything automated with any services?
Overall it was relatively smooth. We had some setbacks with limited resources on the agency side and time difference/vacations but overall it has been painless. The reconcilaiiton has become automated. No more guessing which hotel charge goes to which person and cost centers. All is reconciled in the tool saving tons of time.
Are the hotels and other vendors you are utilizing embracing the vcard solution?
So far so good. We havent had any push back yet but only in week two so far.
If incidentals are not currently included are you still reimbursing guests etc by check?
Depends on vpayment token config. In some cases yes, on others we flex to include incidentals.
For the non-FTEs are your air bookings being facilitated by Virtual Payments? Or does that follow existing processes? Would you like it to be one product and one experience in the future?
At this time we leverage std BTAs. Future would like to move to a more compliant standard process across the booking experience.
One of the challenges we are having is getting the hotels to accept this form of payment. How are companies like Global VCard helping users TMC’s in particular increase acceptance?
We work in cooperation with corporate clients and their TMC to reach out proactively to hotels to communicate payment via virtual card. CSI has an initiative to move away from Faxes and transmit the payment information via secure emails. Dedicated account managers our service center, monitor activities on the cards and reach out to hotels if needed.
For hotel reservations if a payment is required at checkout I believe a card will still be required and a central virtual card would not be helpful?
You can book a hotel on a card on file – ghost card or real card – and then send the virtual card with payment instrctions to the hotel. A better practice is to book the original reservation with the virtual card.
The hotel needs to know that the virtual card is for full payment – or room & tax only. If set up properly, the virtual card is charged at check out for room & tax and any incidentals charged to the guest card or other FOP.