B2B Payments

A New Weapon To Control Corporate T&E Costs

Total Travel and Expense is a SpendVision solution that aims to reduce costs and remove the friction from expense account reporting and reconciliation. It might come in handy, as new survey data from American Express travel show that travel costs, no surprise, are on the rise, creating new headaches for corporate travel expense administrators.

By Jeffrey Green (@epaymentsguy)

 

Transaction-management solutions provider Spendvision has launched an integrated online platform designed to provide greater control over travel and expense programs for business travelers and travel managers.

The service, called Total Travel and Expense (TT&E), enables users to book air, hotel, car, airport chauffeur parking, taxis and limo reservations online without leaving the Spendvision platform. In doing so, users may integrate the information with Spendvision’s expense management and reporting capability for a complete view of trip spend, the company noted in its product announcement.

United Kingdom-based Spendvision’s platform enables companies to capture their business transactions in a single location, including those initiated with payment cards, cash invoices, mobile payments and e-money.

A representative from Spendvision said no one from the company was immediately available to discuss the initiative. However, he said TT&E is “a bespoke package,” so pricing plans vary to match customers’ needs. The representative declined to name any companies that be using the service now.

Corporate travel is a major expense for many businesses and can be complex to manage, and the eventual cost of a trip rarely matches initial expense plans. “Unless you capture incidentals and additional spend, it can be impossible to get a true picture of total trip cost,” Spendvision notes on its website. “However, the right technology gives you complete visibility and makes it easy for travellers to manage and reconcile travel costs.”

Users may tailor Spendvision TT&E according to their business need, and they may add functionality as the organization grows and requirements change. They also may deploy the tools either as standalone solutions for use alongside existing internal systems and processes, or as part of a seamless, tailored system, according to Spendvision.

Through the service, users may manage and analyze travel-related transactions through a range of Spendvision reports. For employee travel, booked and actual costs appear automatically, and spend-management tools suggest logical coding options and trip links. In doing so, companies can save on costs related incomplete or inaccurate view of travel spend, the 15-year-old company contends.

In Spendvision’s view, timing may be on the service’s side. “Right now, all indicators suggest 2014 will be a year of investment in technology within our industry, Kyle Ferguson, Spendvision chief commercial officer, noted in the product announcement. “Organizations we talk to are increasingly looking for ways to integrate expense management into end-to-end processes.”

Meanwhile, a recent survey of nearly 300 travel counselors by American Express Travel found, while travel expectations are up for the summer, so are the costs.

Some 45 percent of respondents said their summer travel bookings, relative to their bookings from last year, have increased, despite the fact that 67% percent said the cost of travel is up from a year ago.

Travel counselors cited rising costs in key travel categories – airfare and hotel stays – as main reasons for the increase in the cost of summer travel. However, 35% indicated costs are up because customers are choosing to spend more on amenities such as excursions and other activities.

Asked further asked about what is most important to travelers when booking summer travel, the findings show customers are prioritizing perks over price, as 33% said customers want added value such as upgrades, 26% responded the destination is most important to customers and 20% indicated budget as their customers' top consideration.

"After one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record, it's no surprise people are itching to get away this summer," Laura Fink, vice president of American Express Travel, said in the announcement of the results. "That long, cold winter has fostered a demand for travel where customers are placing a premium on perks and amenities to upgrade their trip experiences despite rising costs."

While 81 percent of travel counselors were planning vacations for clients and their immediate family, 35 percent reported curating trips for multi-generational families and 29 percent were planning experiences for their clients traveling with friends or a significant other.

 

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