As business travel picks up after a rough two years, some things in the corporate accommodations market have not changed from pre-pandemic days. Individual employees often carry a travel and expense card or their own personal credit card to pay for their hotel stays.
“The hotel accommodation space has been a little bit slower than some other industries to adopt an embedded payments-type philosophy, and billing for hotel stays in particular tends to still be pretty decentralized for corporate customers,” Christy Stoffer, VP, North America at TreviPay, told PYMNTS.
That’s starting to change. On April 13, TreviPay announced that its embedded payments solution is being deployed for Choice Hotels International. This marks the entrance of TreviPay into the corporate accommodations market.
With programs like this, the payment is fully embedded into the experience from the booking all the way through to the reconciliation at the corporate level.
“One of the obstacles or weaknesses in the ecosystem that our partnership with Choice is looking to overcome is to give the corporate entities more control, visibility and flexibility over the way their employees travel and pay for travel,” Stoffer said.
Moving Control to the Corporate Level
A newer challenge that this program will help overcome involves the increased employee turnover that has been dubbed the Great Resignation. With employees coming and going from jobs more frequently than in the past, managing an individual corporate card program has become unwieldy.
“This is an interesting opportunity to shift perspective on how payments are done in this space to move more of that control to the corporate level and to remove the physical card from the ecosystem,” Stoffer said.
There are also several other opportunities for process breakdown and control breakdown in the way hotel accommodations are typically booked and paid for. These range from making sure travelers are presented with the company’s preferred options to collecting the hotel folio and tying it to the individual employee’s expense report.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at an expense report and the attached receipt image, but it can be very difficult to track down the details of the stay from those images,” Stoffer said.
With TreviPay’s program that includes Choice Hotels, corporate customers will be able to view, download and regenerate copies of those folios in the billing system. This will eliminate some of the need to track down paper after the fact, and will give them easier insight and reportability on the details of those hotel stays.
“The real key here is going to be in the visibility to whether policies are being followed or not,”Stoffer said. “Gainging increased visibility to the reporting and what each traveler is doing will helpcorporate travel departments reinforce their policies.”
Reducing the Opportunity for Misuse
The program with Choice will also have some customer-side integration options. For companies that leverage travel booking platforms to have employees book travel, integrations on the booking side will enable them to enforce travel rules or policies within the booking platform.
Another challenge presented by physical cards is fraud. Anytime there’s a physical travel and expense card issued, there’s opportunity for misuse, and it can be difficult to get back if the employee leaves the organization. So, an embedded payments solution gives more control over who is using the program and how and when.
“Those components make it inherently better from a transaction fraud standpoint,” Stoffer said.
While change is sometimes difficult for hotels, companies and employees alike, the return to travel after the past two years may lead people to see that there are better ways of doing things.
“That’s giving the industry a bit of an inflection point or opportunity to re-examine the way these things work,” Stoffer said.