Plumbing the off policy travel leakage - FCM Travel Solutions makes investment in Shep to support its innovation in the business travel space

8 January, 2020

Booking off policy remains a continuing major pain point in corporate travel. Generally, such leakage is not linked to get around budgetary cost controls, but because employees find internal policies limiting and difficult to use and in most cases they believe they are saving their company money by shopping for better deals.

Travel management specialist FCM Travel Solutions has highlighted the importance the industry sees in delivering a solution in this area by making a minority investment in Shep, the browser extension technology that assists companies with better management of travel purchased outside of their corporate travel policies.

While most corporate travel is kept within policy, there still remains a fair share of purchases outside of the programme, a continuing major pain point in corporate travel. Founded in 2016, Shep helps companies improve travel programme savings, compliance and safety by monitoring activity on over 70 consumer travel sites. In addition to tracking, Shep's advanced browser extension approach can also enforce policy at the point of sale and link to client analytics and duty of care programmes.

The investment in Shep joins recent similar investments and acquisitions made by the company to help foster additional product innovation for FCM in the business travel space. These include Sam :], FCM's Personal Travel Assistant on your mobile, and 30SecondsToFly with its AI powered chat booking platform.

"We've had a long relationship with the Shep team and have enjoyed following their success," says John Morhous, chief experience officer for FCM. "We're excited to leverage some of this technology into our platforms, as we feel the browser extension is a simple and elegant solution to a problem many of our customers face, which is gaining visibility over spend on travel that happens outside of the managed programmes they provide."

Technological advancements have made it much easier to book travel and the tendency to book off policy. This leakage can vary significantly by organisation and such bookings on consumer travel sites are essentially invisible to the company or its travel management company (TMC) until the employee reports details of the itinerary to their travel manager or submits their expenses for reimbursement after the trip is completed.

This activity can be frustrating, raises liability issues under duty of care and can also have serious financial consequences. It highlights why Shep has become a powerful tool for travel buyers and seen it presented with numerous accolades for its innovation.

Shep works on the belief that the solution to the off-channel booking blindspot isn't tighter restrictions nor another limiting booking tool but instead, using data to give the traveller more accountability and the travel manager and/or TMC real-time insights into where, what and why travellers book business travel on their favourite sites.

In short, Shep gives travellers more freedom and the travel manager or TMC more control and visibility. As Shep highlights in its marketing, companies and TMCs need to "work with, not against" travellers. FCM says it plans to incorporate Shep's technology into the next generation of its platform offering.