The Problems & the Solutions
Videogamepublisher Riot Games considers itself a young com- pany, as the age of its roughly
2,200 employees, based in 14 countries,
averages 24. “The company doesn’t really
want to give corporate cards to a lot of
them,” Riot Games global travel head
Sean Parham said.
About 400 of those employees travel
for work, 35 percent of them internationally. “A lot of them don’t have credit,
and they’re running around with debit
cards,” Parham said. So at the beginning
of the year, the company implemented
AirPlus International’s Virtual Account
with Wex Bank to pay for hotels, which
account for $8.5 million in annual spend.
Parham, however, is disappointed
with AirPlus’ lack of aid in getting more
hotels to accept its solution, despite re-
quests for help. “When we first started
down this road, they basically told me
that it was on me to get the hotels to
accept the payments. I did that with our
preferred hotels. … [AirPlus] did little
more than provide verbiage to share
with the hotel management.”
About half of Riot Games’ AirPlus
Virtual Account hotel transactions go
through, and non-U.S. transactions are
rejected about 90 percent of the time,
according to Parham.
Yael Klein, head of AirPlus Interna-
tional and president and CEO of the
Americas, said she was not fully aware of
Riot Games’ situation but noted, “Usu-
ally we try to work very closely with
both customers and TMCs to make it a
In 2015, AirPlus processed more than
1.3 million virtual card transactions for
hotel rooms and the vast majority of the
bookings had no issues, Klein claimed.
“I don’t want to downplay it. … There’s
still a handful, and every handful is too
much for transactions where it didn’t
work. I get it, because the traveler feels
lost at reception. But it has improved
significantly. Ten years ago, no one knew
what a virtual card was.”
“What I really need help with is non-
preferred hotels and international ho-
tels,” Parham said. “We have a Hilton in
Tokyo that is pushing back on nor-
mal authorization because the traveler
doesn’t have the same credit card in
hand when arriving at the front desk.
[Hilton] told my travel coordinator that
if she would book it through Expedia,
they would accept that payment.” Riot
Games has gone as far as indemnifying
the hotel from charges and chargebacks
in the case of fraud, something virtual
cards are said to reduce or eliminate, but
Parham said the Hilton in Tokyo con-
tinued to refuse the payment method.
Parham spoke with Hilton Worldwide
but was told the company does not ac-
cept virtual payments because of liability.
“That means that none of these [virtual
card] providers, not just AirPlus, are
really doing much to bridge the gap ...
with the big chains to make this hap-
pen,” he said.
Las Vegas hotels also have posed obstacles for Riot Games. Parham said
MGM properties, where Riot Games
books most of its Vegas rooms, require
virtual card authorizatiosn to be signed
and returned on the hotel company’s
own form. That’s an extra step that virtual cards are supposed to eliminate. “I
have been arguing with MGM International about this for months with no
success,” Parham said.