Back to news home Back arrow

​Travelese for Beginners – Decoding the language of corporate travel

December 27, 2018

If you just started a career as a procurement manager or your company’s travel budget was assigned to you for 2019, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the baffling amount of acronyms synonymous with the business travel industry.

Or you’re playing a festive game of Scrabble and have spare letters to get rid of.

At first glance, the foreign language seems like your own but then, when you listen closely, you realize you can’t understand half of the worlds.

The same happens when you read your emails. They tend to be teeming with three letters codes, in all caps... Have you been recruited by the CIA without realizing it? Or worse. Are you suffering from a neurological disorder?

Fear no more. Like the characters of the Danish Dogma movie ‘Italiensk for Begyndere’, you might just need someone to help you confront the gibberish those of us who have been in the industry forever tend to mumble to each other.

Let me decode some of the words we use. The good news is there are plenty of them that will be understood by everybody in the industry, no matter where they are based or their mother tongue. The bad news is there are plenty exclusive to your own language too. Crazy, eh? Hang on in there! Soon you will become fluent in Travelese.

Airport codes - Why write ‘Singapore’ when you can write SIN? “That’s easy,” you think, “just take the three first letters of the city.” Well, sometimes that is the case, but what if I put EZE or YYZ? Do you know which airports I’m talking about? Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini de Ezeiza in Buenos Aires and Pearson International Airport in Toronto. As you can see, no room for guessing here.

Tools - Let me start with GDSs, or Global Distribution Systems. Sabre, Amadeus, and Travelport are the main ones. These computerized systems enable transactions between travel industry providers like airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and agencies. They allow travel consultants to compare fares effectively and make reservations. Using them will require you to learn another language altogether, and I can tell you it is not easy.

Then we have the OBTs, or online booking tools. They have an intuitive interface that allows your travelers to make their own reservations at their convenience without the need to decipher GDS codes.

Reservations. The PNR (passenger name record)gathers the personal information of a traveler and his/her itinerary. Each PNR has a record locator, normally a six-character code, or reservation code.

Agencies - TMCs (travel management companies) like CWT, not only book services but also provide consultancy services and reporting tools to help companies build an effective travel program. OTAs (online travel agencies) use the internet to provide their booking services through a website. DMCs (destination management companies), on the other hand, are those with extensive local knowledge, expertise and resources, that specialize in the design and implementation of MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions). Not rodents.

Hospitality - The acronyms here are endless. The most confusing one for a neophyte might be BAR. We are not talking about where to order a drink – although you might need one by now - but about the best available rate. ADR (average daily rate) or ARR (average room rate), APR (average published rate), LOS (length of stay), MAR (minimum acceptable rate), SGL (single room), DBL (double room), SV (sea view hotel room), OB/RO (accommodation without meals) BB (breakfast only), HB (half board regime) and FB (full board) are some of the most common ones you will encounter. See you at the bar.

Air Travel - If you want to feel dizzy, read the Wikipedia entry about fare basis code. It will give you a hint of the complexity travel agents handle. Let’s take it easy and explore instead some of the meal codes: AVML (vegetarian Hindu meal), BLML (bland meal, not to be mistaken with BBML (baby meal), DBML (diabetic meal), GFML (gluten free), KSML (Kosher), NFML (no fish), RVML (vegetarian raw meal) are some.

I hope you find this introduction to ‘Travelese’ useful. Have you come across an acronym you want us to decipher? 


Media Enquiries:

If you're a journalist looking for assistance with a media query, we're here to help.

Contact us at and one of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.