For corporate travelers, booking flights can be a labyrinthine task, with price shopping and formal requests via proposals part of the deal — only to have to wait to get a thumbs up or down from the travel coordinator or finance administrator.
But technology has the power to streamline that process, as it has done in many areas of corporate expense management. In an interview with PYMNTS, Trippeo Chief Executive Officer and Cofounder Adarsh Pallian said that the recent introduction of the flight booking capability to its expense tracking application means that employees are made aware of corporate policy across each facet of finalizing flights.
Under standard and less automated processes, which tend to be “old school and do not serve the new, rising generation of millennial users,” employees are “forced to navigate through spreadsheets” or phone calls to travel agents, corporate card in hand, and then submit travel requests and wait for approval, he said. And so, according to Pallian, when it comes to expense management, “the employees are left with nothing to do.”
But through Trippeo’s end-to-end flight portal, the user booking a trip can wind up bumping against limits set by corporate expense managers, which reach a maximum amount to be spent on a ticket or preferred vendors.
And the employee sees, graphically and in real time, what is permissible and what is not. “The corporate travel policies are right there, at all times, and displayed, not hidden away in a separate document,” said Pallian. The end result, said the executive, is more effective management of time and money allocated to and spent on corporate travel. “And the employee,” noted Pallian, “can get a sense of where the company is trying to go — which vendors are preferred and where expenses and employee spend” are being monitored.
Pallian noted that employees typically have had to navigate across separate systems when booking travel, including flights — the platform used to book flights and the platform used to monitor expenses. The newest offering by Trippeo allows professionals to book flights without continuous manual inputs. Now, employees can take photos of receipts while “in the field” and can send those pictures across the platform to create expense reports. The time saved, said Pallian, can be measured, as documents take only a few minutes to be prepared and sent and the wait time to approval no longer takes days.
The CEO told PYMNTS that the new booking platform is geared toward enterprises with 250 to 300 employees, with at least 10 percent of those on the road, on average. “Smaller than that would mean there are not that many protocols in place” that would govern travel spend, said Pallian. Key industries that are likely to be early adopters of the Trippeo flight portal would likely include technology companies that have received money through seed financing (though later rounds) and are rapidly expanding and agencies that are far-flung in their operations with a strong focus on media and advertising.
Further, said Pallian, the end goal of the company is to ensure that booking all aspects of travel through the app brings as seamless and automated an experience as possible — even toward a near future where the process involves both humans and bots. “The last thing we want is for users to open the app and then wind up manually tracking expenses.”