First came the warning that Sabre’s SynXis hotel reservations system had been breached, exposing credit cardholder names and card numbers. Then came the lawsuits.
“What happened with SynXis shows the vulnerabilities of using traditional credit cards for hotel payments,” said Mario Kriebel, vice president of Commercial Payment Solutions for BCD Travel. “Virtual credit cards, paired with Virtual Payment Automation, are a safer way to pay. They reduce the risk of exposing a company’s employees—and brand—to fraudsters, while supporting other important corporate program goals, like increasing in-program hotel bookings.”
At its core, Virtual Payment Automation by BCD Travel offers security and simplicity because it takes the traveler—and the fraudster—out of the hotel payment process. Electronically generated unique virtual card numbers can be restricted to particular suppliers, defined time periods and set amounts. A virtual card payment linked to an in-program hotel reservation packaged with Wi-Fi gets a green light. An out-of-policy minibar bill does not.
Even in the worst-case scenario, Virtual Payment Automation reduces internal and external fraud opportunities because of how virtual credit cards are fenced in. The restrictions on virtual cards mean they’re of little use to a thief. Plus, when travelers use company-issued virtual cards, they sidestep the risk of exposing personal credit card information to scammers.
Virtual cards are relatively new—and imperfect. The process requires card numbers to be sent to hotels via fax (which will be replaced by secure email in the near future). Hotel staff must be educated on how to handle the cards. But the high security of the solution is real and is fueling the growth of Virtual Payment Automation.
The benefits of virtual cards and Virtual Payment Automation go beyond security, Kriebel said. The solution enables an end-to-end booking-to-expense stream that keeps travelers in program. A traveler must make an in-program hotel booking to receive a virtual credit card number, which ultimately pays for the room and approved ancillary expenses, like breakfast or Wi-Fi. A traveler who books an out-of-program hotel and then pays on a personal card will be easy to spot in the expense-reimbursement process.
“Travel managers can use the data they receive through Virtual Payment Automation to reengage travelers who’ve booked out of program and bring them back into the fold,” Kriebel said. “The virtual card number is a connective thread that links hotel expenses to individual employees, cost centers and even designated projects. Travel managers gain extraordinary visibility and transparency into travel spend.”
Ask your BCD Travel account manager about the security benefits of Virtual Payment Automation, and learn more about how travel payment processes can drive business goals.