Concur's annual customer event Fusion is going on this week in New Orleans. In addition to the table8 funding news, the company has announced a new partnership and an expanded direct connectivity feature to coincide with the event.
TripLink beefs up with direct supplier integration
TripLink is an emerging product for Concur, one that is just beginning to show its impact on the quickly shifting corporate travel space - most specifically, on the "open travel" front. With travelers continuing to show less motivation to book in-program, Concur is tackling that trend by facilitating it.
In an interview with Tnooz, Mike Koetting, the EVP of Supplier Management, spoke about how this integration will make it simpler for everyone involved in corporate travel - or at least for Concur customers.
Triplink is a mechanism that enables the corporation to capture the spend happening outside of the traditional TMC relationship.
The generally accepted average leakage is that 40-50% of hotel bookings from managed travel programs are going direct to the supplier. The problem with that is that it's a pain for the traveler as they don't have a nice clean itinerary, and the expense report is not easy to fill out. The corporate travel manager also doesn't know where a traveler is and cannot view an accurate spend for a property.
TripLink allows travelers to forward supplier-direct bookings to the corporate travel management system, where it will be integrated into the itinerary, in addition to the travel agent and TMC workflows.
Beyond an "email forward" functionality, Concur has announced direct TripLink integration with suppliers such as IHG and Avis, with Starwood announcing yesterday upcoming support for the feature. This means that travelers can attach their loyalty program information to their Concur profile once, and then have any booking created on a supplier site under that loyalty login sent to the Concur ecosystem.
Rather than forwarding an email for an individual booking, the end user has to do nothing - once the booking is made, it will be placed into the Concur workflow, so travel agents can see in-program PNRs alongside out-of-program bookings. This facilitates duty-of-care while also seamlessly integrating the full trip into a traveler's itinerary across platforms.
Add your loyalty numbers, accept the terms and hit one button and we're now going to automatically connect you with the TripLink suppliers that you have enabled today and those that come in the future. One click, auto-connect process for travelers that want to use TripLink.
We're just at the start of it. We really draw upon knowing how successful TripIt is. With 9 million users, we can actually see the number of our corporate clients who are using the TripIt functionality.
It's really about changing the paradigm of managed travel. Travelers now have a choice, they can book a couple of different ways, they'll get the corporate discount and the TMCs and travel managers still get visibility. Before the TMCs could only report on, let's say 60%, of the travel. And now they get visibility closer to 100%.
We know the travelers do book out-of-program, and in increasing numbers. Some of the reasons are that suppliers encourage travelers to do so - such as double points, same rate. We're acknowledging this is a trend that continues to grow and that we need to find a solution that addresses the trend.
On the supplier side, the product also allows for traveler verification to ensure that a given traveler is indeed eligible for a specific corporate travel discount - and Concur leverages its connection to HR systems to remove profiles of travelers that are no longer with a particular company.
Suppliers are also able to continue their engagement and marketing efforts to encourage booking direct, as corporate travelers will now have an easier way to comply with internal travel regulations.
Creating that TripLink connection between my profile and a travel supplier's loyalty account also helps the travel supplier to be engaged and deliver a more personalized service to me.
Koetting also discussed the TripPoints program, which incentives travelers to first check in the TMC for a particular trip to get the "Price to Beat." If the traveler can then go out and book directly at a lower price, then the traveler receives points for the difference in fare from booking within the TMC tool.
It's a way to engage a traveler with a set of flexible rules that a customer can configure that will apply not only when a traveler books through the online booking tool but also when she books off site.
On stage at an analyst briefing, CEO Steve Singh announced that Marriott will also support TripLink to provide a company-specific interface on that brand's websites, saying that "no matter where you book, we are going to bring this information back so your TMC can serve you. So your company can serve you."
IBM links up with Concur - "25 years in the making"
IBM, one of the first enterprise-to-enterprise companies, has partnered with Concur to market Concur's expense solutions to IBM's global client roster.
From the announcement:
IBM will actively promote Concur's cloud-based expense management solutions to IBM Global Expense Reporting Solutions clients, who will continue to receive the expertise and support of IBM’s Global Process Service and Business Process Outsourcing operations while migrating to Concur’s market-leading travel and expense management platform, which is used by customers in over 150 countries.
This is a huge partnership, with IBM effectively bowing out of the tech side of expense management in deference to Concur's suite of products. IBM will still offer back office travel and expense support to clients, saying they will rely on "the end-to-end nature of travel management" offered by Concur.
John Torrey, who was instrumental in driving the deal had the following to say in the announcement:
IBM and Concur are pioneers in delivering world-class solutions and together we serve the largest companies in the world. For 20 years, Concur has defined the market for automated expense management and reporting with a full complement of solutions that help companies and their employees with travel services, booking, expense reimbursement, spend management and invoice processing.
In speaking with Tnooz directly, Torrey said this was "25 years in the making," as IBM pioneers much of the business services ecosystem that has allowed Concur to thrive with its technology today.
This is another win on the Perfect Trip front, as a true "perfect trip" requires access to a deep set of travelers with many touchpoints across brands so that other companies engage within the Concur ecosystem.
NB: Megaphone image courtesy Shutterstock.