Temporary housing provider National Corporate Housing reports that it has significantly reduced hotel booking times with the implementation of a virtual card solution with Conferma Pay.
National managing director of travel services Carmen Stinson said the implementation has replaced an “antiquated” manual process of hotel payment that stretched the average booking time for a hotel of up to 23 minutes for agents. The company—which sets up housing for situations including relocations, temporary work needs and insurance needs—had been using high-credit-line ghost cards to pay properties, but that required a lot of work for agents in booking.
“The current hotel policies require that either a physical card is presented or an official credit card authorization form, and that policy generated a lot of steps for the agents,” Stinson said. “They would book in the [global distribution system], create a credit card to pay in another platform, then go to a PDF of some sort which they have to edit to make the hotel happy.”
Communicating with hotels was a particular challenge in that setup, as the authorization form had to be faxed to hotels, and each form often had different requirements by hotel, she said.
National collaborated with Sabre—which acquired Conferma earlier this year—Conferma and its bank partners for a virtual card setup. Now, National can create virtual cards within the Conferma Pay platform, and agents can complete the payment process within the Sabre platform, without needing to switch to other systems, Stinson said. Card deployments can be done via a drop-down menu with the amount allowed on the card informed by the booking details, which can be changed later should the clients’ needs change, she said.
The virtual cards also have improved reporting, allowing each booking to have its own card and associated folio data rather than necessitating sorting through multiple bookings on a single lodge card, she said.
“If we go to a credit card statement online platform, the data of who booked it or how many nights it was for … is not totally transferred to the banking site,” she said. “Because in [Conferma Pay Snap reconciliation and reporting service], we have the card number and the details of the booking, you can find out everything about that booking and receive a folio.”
In all, National estimates the hotel booking process has dropped to requiring about three minutes on average. While National said the setup with Sabre and its banking partners took a matter of weeks, Stinson said she’d like to see more hotels invest in technology on their end to further ease the virtual payment process. Marriott International, for example, has worked with Grasp Technologies for an automated workflow in which Marriott can receive virtual payment details in its property management system.
“It’s not expensive at all to implement those technologies to receive [payment information] properly,” Stinson said. “The amount of time spent calling hotels and asking for a folio that should have been done properly, technology could eliminate 90 percent of it. Everyone saves on productivity.”