< PrevNext > Cathy Sharpe, ITW director of global T&E The Myth Buster By Elizabeth West / December 20, 2016 / Contact Reporter Share Over the course of two years, Cathy Sharpe watched ITW's hotel booking-channel compliance crater from 67 percent to 40 percent. It was a drastic shift for a global program that she had built by the book over the prior six years, and it required drastic action. She turned to TripLink to investigate her vanishing hotel compliance, and the revelations kept coming. Sharpe found the vast majority of her travelers' hotel bookings were going to preferred suppliers, even when booked off channel. The difference is that they were cheaper than the in-channel bookings. The original $2 per night was minimal, but when the delta grew to $6, the opportunities were clear.But it wasn't just the savings, Sharpe said. "As good as [corporate online booking tools] may try to be, they are never going to pull in the content that the supplier offers [direct]," she told BTN. Plus, suppliers are bringing in the "glorified experience" with loyalty offers, amenity selection and other features corporate tools can't offer. In some cases, her travelers report more consistent service and fewer check-in complications when they rely on their status versus corporate negotiated agreements.It would be easy to keep direct connect benefits on the down low, especially in an industry built on closed-loop processes. But those days are over, according to Sharpe, and transparency is paramount to progress. Sharpe, whom BTN named 2016 Multinational Travel Manager of the Year, was unstoppable on the conference circuit this year, exposing the myth that the corporate channel always delivers the best benefit. She continues to advise Concur on how to present TripLink hotel data so it tells a story for the customer. She is working with United Airlines on its TripLink rollout in a similar capacity, and she's pushing the travel management company community to embrace the open booking concept and to capitalize on it. "The TMCs need this data, and they need to be able to service [off-channel] bookings," she said. "[They need to] stretch and find new opportunities."