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For Biz Travelers, Expense Control Is Its Own Reward (And Then Some)

Expense-management

Travel expenses can eat into the bottom line, even as firms pursue new business. But Expensify is betting that rewarding employees for cost-conscious “bookings behavior” can help calm those margin pressures, as CEO and Founder David Barrett explains.

Corporate travel and expense control related to corporate travel are sometimes two opposing sides of the same coin. It is the goal of the firm to maximize revenues and pursue new business. But travel in pursuit of new business (marked by those road warriors who go out and chase clients, hopping across territories and continents) is no easy undertaking. Trips booked on a moment’s notice can also have outsized premiums attached for the sake of convenience.

Then, there’s the added cost of employees who may be all in on grabbing new customers but who, nonetheless, may not be optimally aware of corporate travel and expense policies. Thus, inadvertently, they may be dinging margins. Expense reporting firm Expensify has just unveiled a new feature, thus far in beta testing, that aims to get all stakeholders on the same page of corporate travel bookings and reward employees in the process.

The new feature, Price to Beat, allows users to compare any number of pricing options across travel, from flight to cars to hotels, presenting an average and whether a user’s anticipated reservations lie above or below that average.

There’s a benefit here: Should the reservations rest below that average benchmark, the corporate travel department can bestow Expensify Rewards. Those rewards are cash back to the employee, in their accounts, and are tied to the cost savings from the demonstrated thrift.

CEO and Expensify Founder David Barrett told PYMNTS that cash rewards are divvied up (as determined by the firm) between the company and the employee and represents a “way to incentivize” mindfulness of employees about where company dollars are headed, with a “direct sharing in the cost savings.” The newest pricing tool also works alongside the company’s ReceiptBurner offering, which creates automatic expense reports when travel is booked with certain partners, including Uber and HotelTonight, among others. The fact remains, said Barrett, that corporate travel involves stress and time constraints and that employees “do not have the time to devote to the attention to detail” that optimal manual pricing research would demand. The fact that Price to Beat also operates across currencies (as does ReceiptBurner) takes guesswork out of calculated savings.

The cash back, maintained Barrett, can be significant to an employee, who, say, opts for Airbnb or staying with an acquaintance, lowering or eliminating lodging expenses (think hundreds or thousands of dollars given back to the company and the employee). 

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