“Paris-based Traveldoo manages Travel and Expenses (T&E) for more than 4,000 clients, including L'Oréal, AXA, Nissan and Renault. Like other combined T&E solutions, such as KDS and Concur, combining booking and expenses on a single platform means that users get the benefits of end-to-end seamlessness, control and visibility.
“You can take a user all the way from thinking about a business trip to payment of the expense claim,” says Traveldoo's chief product officer, Dan Fitzgerald.
“If people have taken our full T&E offering the reporting can be much more interesting, rather than if they are just using us as a booking tool. It is useful for travel managers to see how much is off-programme and how much in policy, while looking at average spend allows them potentially to adjust what those rate caps would be. If people are trying to push travelers on to hotel programmes, they can check on the uptake of those rates.”
Traveldoo says it is doing everything it can to make the end-to-end process as slick as possible for the user. “One of the things you are trying to do is reduce burden,” says Fitzgerald. “No one likes doing expenses. People can spend hours doing it, and it's dull and prone to error. The sort of automation where booking data flows into the expense report is one of the key benefits of linking through from travel to expense.”
Fitzgerald says: “Ideally we can nudge people into adopting good behavior. If a traveler has just paid something – for example, a taxi – they can take a photo of the receipt and we can geo-locate where they are, and that line item gets created. The more we can be involved in the process, particularly with new technologies, the more we can capture data that we are targeting.”
Although the data capture is rich, total automation is difficult to achieve. “I don't think we will get there 100 per cent. One of our sources of geo-location data is receipt capture using mobile, the other is bank data coming through with some level of address information, and we use that to increase our accuracy to over 95 per cent.”
As well as the booking data, Traveldoo and other similar platforms can accept feeds from corporate cards that have been used to settle hotel bills. “We can reconcile that and, if there is any disparity, we can ask the traveler to clarify.”
It is important to recognize that a hotel bill is a compound payment, made up of the room charge, food and beverage, and other expenses as well as VAT.
“Because all of that data has been captured, you get control and visibility and a review of the total cost of trip, in terms of booked versus actual,” he says. Fitzgerald adds that this approach differs from the more open-booking type approach taken by competitors. “You want to do this properly, particularly with duty-of-care concerns and not going to hotels that are blacklisted for legitimate reasons.”
The T&E platform providers agree that a key metric for travel managers is leakage, and deploying end-to-end systems make it easier for them to spot booking patterns and habits that affect the travel budget.”