Nonrefundable Ticket Struggles

Maritz Travel Company has found a way to help planners minimize the impact of the strict nonrefundable airline policy changes that went into effect October 1. Through its Ticket Minder service, attendees using nonrefundable tickets will be notified five days prior to their travel date. "We'll send them an e-mail that alerts them to their travel date, and if they do not want to use it, to call right away and rebook their tickets," says Kathie Lia, director of technology marketing for the Maritz Travel Company.

If the attendees don't know when they want to rebook, they will lose the value of their ticket. Lia says some companies are booking a "dummy" flight, knowing the attendee is going to change it again. "But depending on the amount it's valued for, doing that may not make sense," she says.

Additionally, the Ticket Minder reporting package can take a snapshot of the attendee's use of refundable and nonrefundable tickets. Historically, Lia says, more nonrefundable tickets are unused. "In the long run, are they saving money by retaining the value of a ticket or trip not taken?" asks Lia. "It's not absolute; it's a strategic decision. We need to evaluate the trip and book the most advantageous fare for that particular trip."