Most process view travel agencies as risky and unpalatable. But why is this so? – First, transactions run in travel agencies are prone to many risks. Travel operations involve high volumes of sales that often entirely take place in a card-not-present situation. These are traditional features of high-risk businesses; however, travel agencies are much worse. In most transactions, the service is provided weeks or even months after the date of the sales. This delay leaves a long duration for even perfectly valid sales to decline to chargebacks.
Therefore, if a consumer buys a travel package but due to a family emergency can no longer tour their likely destination, and have to cancel the transaction they are allowed to, but at a set termination fee. Though they are forewarned of the cancellation fee in the contract, they don’t rejoice in paying it. While others may honor the agreement by paying the charges, many others will work hard to default it, go as far as filing a dispute with their issuer. Brings us to the big question- if valid transactions can be the source of a dispute, how about false ones?
Despite the move by most organizations to come up systems to help manage risks, fraudulent transactions are still a major setback in the travel agency industry. Travel organizations that make big profits have learnt that reducing risk exposure and improving credit card processing credentials are not enough measures to preventing fraud, but regularly training staff on the precise application of the best credit card acceptance practices does it perfectly! Below are procedures to consider when coming up with your set of top practices to protect you travel merchant account:
1- Screen risky bookings.
Screening all high-risk bookings, it can help you detect and stop fraudulent transactions. Screen bookings with the signs below:
• Date of travel less than six days after purchase date.
• Passenger and cardholder names that differ.
• First/business class booking.
• E-tickets or tickets delivered outside billing address.
2- Set aside high-value tickets for fraud assessment.
High-value dealings expose you to more fraud and consumer claims. Make sure you contact cardholders involved in these transactions to validate the booking.
3- Track major signs of fraud.
Track identified fraud transactions and noted down all their major characteristics of these bookings. Store this information in your database for use in risk assessment. Look for:
• Passenger (and Cardholder) name, address and telephone number.
• Email addresses, IP addresses and ISPs.
• Transaction date and time, class of service, the cost of booking, airline and travel itineraries.
Despite the risks involved in the industry, your travel agency can still improve to the next level. Train all staff to master the art of spotting fraud- less fraudulent dealings, more profits!