Industry battles to reign in corporate travel expenses

business traveller
More business travellers book their own travel

Technology companies and travel management companies (TMCs) have been battling to put their mobile and expense tools in the spotlight as the Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) conference continues in San Diego.

Both company types have been looking at consumer booking trends and applying it to the business market as many travellers carry on ignoring policies and booking travel themselves.

Sabre was the first to get in on the act when it announced a corporate version of its TripCase mobile app last week. Travel managers can use the tool and a centralised dashboard to see bookings made outside the corporate programme when purchased or shown through the app.

“The consumerisation of business travel continues to put pressure on corporations to meet employees’ expectations for simple tools to help them shop, book and manage their business trips,” said John Samuel, senior vice president of Sabre on the launch.


Game-like approach

This week Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT)’s consultancy arm announced it is building a platform that uses features you would find in a game to entice travellers into complying to travel policies. Business travellers will be rewarded for making ‘good booking decisions’ with a points system that will be tracked and compared against their peers, division and entire company.

Tools like this are being used to help companies keep a track of travel spend, especially as air, rail and hotel prices are set to increase next year.

“This offering uses traveller competition and virtual incentives to positively reinforce desired behaviours. We’re not just providing the technology needed to “gamify” a travel programme, but are working with clients to determine what behaviours need to be changed and identifying the correct strategies to employ within their corporate cultures to generate results,” said Joel Wartgow, senior director Americas at CWT Solutions Group.


Expense management

Tracking and automating the expense process has also become a priority for travel and technology companies.

Another launch at GBTA came from Concur and American Express, which is creating new technology that will create an expense claim without even having to type.

AmEx Corporate card members that use Concur Expense and its receipt app ExpenseIt will be able to take a photo of their receipt after receiving an alert when they use the card to purchase an item. The app will read information from the receipt and automatically put it in a table.

“Because employees are reminded to capture expenses on-the-go, companies get a closer to real-time view into actual spend. The tedious manual entry goes away, and audit and approval times shrink because the receipt images are automatically attached to individual expenses,” said Barry Padgett, executive VP for Concur on the launch.

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