Corporate online booking system provider GetThere now gives corporate travelers the ability to plan a trip, and hold their seat, room and car, without making a purchase. The ability to hold trips is the latest in a portfolio of online services that puts more power in travelers' hands, including hold trips, voids, full refunds and a fully automated online ticket exchange.

GetThere data shows that on average, five percent of trips booked in the U.S., and nearly 10 percent of trips booked abroad, are held and never ticketed. GetThere's new hold trips capability provides a powerful tool for business travelers that want to lock in a trip, even if they are not sure they will be traveling. GetThere allows travelers to plan a trip online and then purchase the trip, or put it on hold while they make a final decision on their travel.

The GetThere system determines how long the trip can be held based on the rules of the different components booked, and it sends an email to alert travelers when a held trip is going to be cancelled. If travelers decide they want to book the trip, they can simply return to the online site to complete the booking, or let the site automatically cancel the trip.

Online booking is quickly becoming a preferred choice for business travelers, but travelers who embrace self service are finding there are still many situations that require calling an agent, which can be inconvenient to them and expensive for their company. In the second half of 2004, GetThere began rolling out several services that have historically required travelers to call agents. The first set of features included:

Online Voids: Gives travelers the ability to cancel a trip shortly after booking for a refund without penalty;

Online Full Refunds: Shows travelers the value they will receive if they opt to cancel a trip, and lets them process the refund online;

Online Ticket Exchange: Intelligently finds all the airline rules to help travelers understand the cost of exchanging a ticket for a new flight, and allows them to complete the exchange online.

"Business travelers are constantly considering 'what if' scenarios about their trips. We are putting much more data in front of them, to help in their decision making, and then giving them the tools to take action," said Bev Heinritz, general manager of GetThere. "Hold trips rounds out a portfolio of new options that make a company's online site the ultimate resource for travelers. The end result is empowered travelers who book online, which helps reduce their company's travel costs."

Hold Trips: Key for business travelers and company cost savings

Historically, business travel has differed from leisure travel in one key way - frequently changing plans. Business travelers who book a trip online often find within 24 hours, that their plans require changes due to customer demands or other unforeseen circumstances. As a result, the traveler has to call their travel agency to make the changes, thereby negating the savings resulting from initially booking online. GetThere enables the corporate traveler to make the initial booking and the changes online, thereby preserving and enhancing the savings of online booking.

Online Ticket Exchange: Helping travelers capitalize on new lower airline change fees

Another advantage of GetThere's Online Ticket Exchange capability is providing travelers the ability to research the cost of changing their return flight while on the road. Most frequent flyers know they can stand by at the airport on the day of travel to catch an earlier or later flight, but there is no guarantee they will get on that flight. With the recent reduction in change fees by major carriers, confirming alternate flights is easier and cheaper than ever before. GetThere's technology allows a traveler to perform a cost comparison of both options before the day of travel, enabling more flyers to obtain the flight they want with lower change fees.

GetThere Hold Trips, and Online Voids, Refunds and Exchanges are available today. Corporations should work with their travel agency to ensure they have processes in place to accommodate these transactions.