Corporate Travel Glossary - Hotels, Airlines, and More

Corporate Travel Glossary - Hotels, Airlines, and More

Corporate travel is an incredibly important element of the modern business landscape, but it can also be quite intimidating to the uninitiated. What's dynamic pricing? What's the difference between an OBT and an OTA?

If these travel terms and acronyms put you in a tailspin, no worries: we teamed up with American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) to cut through the complexity and come up with a glossary of the need-to-know corporate travel terms. So buckle up and prepare for takeoff because this is about to get interesting. 

Before we dive in, a couple of quick notes:

  • This travel glossary is a live document that we will be updating regularly with new terms — so bookmark this page and keep checking in!

  • If you want a downloadable version to share with your team or keep on your desktop, we got you! You can get your free copy here!

And now, without further ado, on to the glossary terms! 

Corporate Travel Glossary

  • Adoption rate: the percentage of travel bookings made through a company-approved online booking system.

  • Ancillary services: amenities a traveler can purchase from airlines while traveling; e.g., onboard food and beverages, checked baggage, seat upgrades, priority boarding, etc.

  • Basic economy: basic economy is rock-bottom airfare that comes with certain restrictions, such as limits on carry-on luggage and seating assignments; each airline has its own set of restrictions. (Check out our blog post on the pros and cons of basic economy.)

  • Black-out dates: certain dates when hotel discounts, flight discounts or miles are not permitted.

  • Booking engine: web-based products that allow for airline, hotel, train and car reservations.

  • Dynamic pricing: a strategy in which airlines and hotels change prices based on algorithms that take into account competitor pricing as well as supply and demand. (Check out our blog post on how dynamic pricing can affect corporate hotel per diems.)

  • Fare basis: the letters and numbers assigned to a specific fare, like an identification number.

  • Global distribution system (GDS): a computerized reservation system for reserving airline seats, hotel rooms, rental cars, and other travel-related items. Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport, Apollo and Galileo are all global distribution systems.

  • LCC: low-cost carrier (aka no-frills airlines); offer low-fare flights with reduced passenger services.

  • Leakage: when employees book business travel outside the preferred channels; a lot of leakage in a managed travel program can lead to missed cost-savings opportunities and weaken duty of care capabilities.

  • LRA: last room availability; as long as a hotel has even one room available, then parties with an LRA contract have a right to buy it at their contracted terms and price.

  • Managed travel: a business travel program in which employees book travel within pre-established guidelines, designed to control spend and help enhance travelers’ safety.

  • OBT: online booking tool; a corporate-approved software tool that lets organizations book, manage and monitor their business trip itineraries.

  • OTA: online travel agency; a travel website that enables travelers to book flights, hotel rooms, ground transportation and other travel-related products and services.

  • TEM: travel expense management; the system a company uses to process, pay and audit traveler-initiated expenses.

  • Ticketing agreement: a contract between airlines to accept each other’s tickets for transportation

  • TM: a travel manager is the person responsible for a company’s travel policy—developing the policy, managing (preferred) supplier relationships, monitoring and approving traveler itineraries and bookings, processing T&E reports and more. (Check out our blog post about determining whether your company needs a corporate travel manager.)

  • TMC: a travel management company is a business travel agent (such as American Express Global Business Travel) that helps organizations manage their travel programs. A TMC fulfills travel bookings, supports the organization’s duty of care obligations, and identifies potential cost-savings opportunities. (Check out our free guide to simplifying corporate travel management.

  • Unmanaged travel: a business travel program without a set booking process or guidelines, in which employees book independently and manage their own travel arrangements. (Learn about the potential of drawbacks of unmanaged travel in our blog post about the different corporate travel management options.)

  • Unused ticket: an unused ticket is an airline-specific credit from canceling a non-refundable flight. These funds are not lost and can be applied toward a future flight on the same carrier.

  • VCN: virtual card number; a highly secure, single-use virtual credit card number used to minimize the risk of fraud.

Want a free copy of's corporate travel glossary? You can get one here!

About the Author: Mike Baker
Mike was Director of Marketing for and a former journalist, farmer and teacher.