News | DistributionSolving the European airline booking challenge for OTAs and intermediaries [Sponsored]This article was originally published onBy Viewpoints | October 12, 2015 When it comes to booking flights for customers, online travel agents (OTAs) and travel intermediaries work on very small profits.NB This is a viewpoint by Ian Johnson, European sales director for virtual payments at WEX.It’s a high volume, low margin game in a very competitive environment and customers are becoming more and more price conscious, which leads to margins being squeezed even further.OTAs and intermediaries also have to factor in European airline surcharges, which average around 2% per booking. Both have to pay the airline immediately whilst the customers’ money is tied up in a trust account for up to five working daysFor OTAs and intermediaries, maintaining positive cash flow is challenging at best.As a leading provider of corporate payment solutions, WEX has recently launched a new payment solution, which gives users such as OTAs, tour operators and travel management companies the ability to avoid airline surcharges in order to maximise per booking profitability: the WEX Solution for Airline Payments.Launched last month, it is a VCN (Virtual Card Number), which offers a credit facility to fund debit card accounts and enables our customers to maximise per booking profitability by avoiding the 2% surcharge on flight bookings.It also helps fund the customers’ airfares whilst their money is tied up in trust accounts.The WEX Solution for Airline Payments also creates a marketing advantage for OTAs and intermediaries who can now become more competitive with the price of flights offered, and it offers the ability to pay and settle in several currencies without FX or conversion fees.In addition, WEX VCNs provide automated transaction reporting and reconciliation, which reduce the amount of manual work and risk and increase productivity.Earlier this year, we introduced our multicurrency strategy which in its first phase delivered an expanded currency offering on the credit WEX Virtual Card Numbers (VCNs) to a total of eleven payment currencies.In the next step we have expanded the total amount of billing currencies to 22 across prepaid, debit and credit VCNs and are working on further expansion of our currency capabilities.Currently our VCNs are being used across the globe in over 190 territories and in over 45 currencies and we are able to bill and settle in 22 in total.As a business, we have witnessed a 25% year on year increase in volume of transactions and our multicurrency strategy entails further multicurrency capabilities across all products, regions and currencies and offers customers the most cost effective way of making international payments.Join Tnooz, WEX, and Teletext Holidays for a FREE webinar and learn how to increase your payments efficiency. It takes place on Wednesday, October 21. Click here for more details and to register.NB This is a viewpoint by Ian Johnson, European sales director for virtual payments at WEX. It appears here as part of Tnooz's sponsored content initiative.NB2Image by Shutterstock.