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Active Versus Passive Tracking

Travel tracking or itinerary tracking is the process of monitoring the movement of travellers. The systems that perform these services are generally referred to as travel trackers. Until recently there was only passive tracking and so the term travel tracker was adequate. With the introduction of active tracking there is now the need to differentiate between active and passive tracking.

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    Passive Tracking

    The most common type of travel tracker is the passive travel tracker. Passive tracking dates back to the dawn of tracking and is still by far the most popular form of tracking used today. A passive travel tracker imports the itineraries from the booking engines or GDSs and makes the data available to travel or security managers. Passive trackers can only tell you where your employees are supposed to be, not where they actually are. This reduces both the accuracy and completeness of the data, making the systems less reliable than active travel trackers.


    Passive travel trackers are popular because they give you a general idea of where your travellers are at a very reasonable price. Some providers are even giving away passive tracking for free. Some issues to consider are:

    * Are passive trackers still fit for purpose now that we have more accurate active solutions?
    * Are you still meeting your duty of care obligations should something happen to your employee while on a trip?

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    Active Tracking

    Active travel tracking is the next evolutionary step in tracking, and first appeared in 2010. Active tracking involves using technology to accurately determine the movements of the travellers. Active trackers import itineraries from the GDSs in the same way as the passive trackers, but that is where the similarities end. Active travel trackers will then monitor the itineraries until they are completed.


    In its most simple form active tracking involves the tracker communicating with the traveller to ensure that the trip is proceeding according to the itinerary. The traveller will receive a pre trip confirmation asking the them to confirm or decline the travel. The confirmation can be an email, SMS or an automated voice all. As the traveller confirms or declines departure the tracker is updated and relevant parties are notified. The same process is used to confirm arrival. This process ensures that the travel tracker reflects the travellers actual movements.


    With commercial flights it is now possible to monitor the location as well as the status of flights. If a traveller has confirmed departure, flight tracking allows you to see the progress of the flight and enables the tracker to automatically confirm arrival, removing the need for the traveller to do so.


    The integration of location tracking using smart phones, tracking devices or satellite phones enables travel trackers to become automated. Instead of messaging the traveller throughout the journey the tracker can automatically update the itinerary as the traveller arrives at waypoints and destinations. All the traveller has to do is use the location tracker and the tracker does the rest.


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    Tracking Ahead

    One of the main goals for any tracking solution is to minimize the burden on the traveller and support staff, while providing accurate tracking. We will see a transition towards more fleixble active and automated tracking in the years ahead as companies realize that the one size fits all passive solutions are no longer fit for purpose. Travel trackers need to be customizable to meet the traveller and risk profiles of your company's travelling population.


    The VM travel tracker provides active tracking at its core, but we also do passive tracking where that is appropriate or desirable. As a company you can choose who is actively and passively tracked based on company preferences, traveller preferences, destination countries or travel risk. You may for example have a policy that anyone travelling within Europe is passively tracked whereas anyone travelling outside of Europe is actively tracked. The traveller can choose to use confirmation messaging or GPS tracking as their active method of choice.


    Our TrackBasic platform is our easy to use self service platform where you can be up and tracking within 5 minutes. Trackbasic allows companies of any size to have their own travel tracker up and running in no time. SMEs love it has it gives them tracking capabilities that were previously only available to large companies. Large companies love it because there is no need to go through procurements; a group can simply set up an account and track their team without the beurocracy associated with enterprise solutions.