Almost all of the companies that we work with use some kind of online booking tool (OBT) and expense software for travel. Some companies love what they have and, as I mentioned in an earlier post, others feel that their tools are underutilized for a variety of reasons.
While attending Concur Fusion 2017 I learned a number of tips and best practices, as well as some new features that are in the works for the Concur platform. And while all of these apply to Concur, many OBTs have similar functionality enabling you to leverage the information below.
Concur 101: The Do’s and Don’ts
There are three, main areas that make-up Concur: travel, expense and reporting. Take a look at my list of do’s and don’ts for these areas:
- DO use hotel notes in your online booking tool (OBT) to let travelers know about negotiated amenities.
- DON’T let traveler profiles go months without updates. Keep information fresh by integrating with your HR tool, having an automatic yearly reset or making the profile update part of annual reviews.
- DO take advantage of auto car reservations, which will book a car according to policy. This might mean that a specific vendor is automatically applied as well as a certain car class, such as intermediate.
- DO use tools like Triplink. This program allows information on reservations outside the OBT to be brought back in, which contributes to duty of care efforts and spend visibility. Stay tuned —additional suppliers continue to be added to Triplink.
- DO set up your card program payment type based on how you want the data tracked in Concur and sent to your financial system. DON'T base it on the legal agreements with the card provider.
- DO include your company's tax professionals to ensure you are setting up the right requirements for Concur. Your tax team would be able to differentiate needs based on your industry (e.g. government contracts, FINRA, SOX) and countries (e.g. Works councils, Mexico CFDI, Australia FBT, VAT reclaim).
- DON’T think mileage reimbursement for road warrior employees is the best method. DO use the “Excessive Personal Car Mileage” report to get a list of the people who have spent the most for personal mileage vs. car rentals, and develop a mileage threshold where they should be renting a car instead. Read our executive brief about calculating your mileage reimbursement break-even point for details.
- DON’T ignore high cash usage on your program. Many times these transactions can indicate other activities that you may not be thinking about, like fraud. Make sure to analyze payment types and determine what factors are contributing to low adoption (e.g. geography, culture, features) and take action.
- DO take advantage of Concur partnerships, like that with Oversight Systems. They help companies detect high-risk transactions and potential policy violation with pre-defined insight analytics designed to eliminate fraud, waste and misuse.
- DO review the “Past Reservations with Rates in Excess of Negotiated Rate” report to determine potential refunds you can request from the vendor. Then do the same for upcoming hotel stays or car reservations by reviewing the “Upcoming Hotel Reservations with Rates in Excess of Negotiated Rate” report.
What's New or Coming Soon
While travel tools like these are updated often, I am really excited about these new features:
Smart Drive Mileage
This feature, which has been added to Concur Mobile, automatically tracks mileage and uploads documentation back into Concur expense. Applicable mileage can then be moved to the expense report with just a tap, saving time and money.
Hipmunk Technology Purchase
With the recent purchase of Hipmunk, a technology that features booking via chat and an email integration with Concur, travelers don’t even need to open Concur to book their trip and stay compliant with the company travel program.
Concur is releasing a new risk-messaging tool tied to their expense system. Previously, travel managers could look up travelers who have booked through their OBT and send any necessary risk messages, but for those travelers that didn’t use the OBT this was very challenging. Now, Concur will pull up a list of travelers based on recent credit card transactions near the location of an incident and allow managers to message travelers about their safety.
Flight & Lodging Updates
A seat finder for flights will soon be available, allowing travelers to choose their seat within Concur. And, travelers will soon be able to choose different airlines for outbound and inbound flights in one transaction, eliminating the need for two one-ways transactions. Lastly, in 2018 Airbnb plans to have an integration with Concur allowing available properties to be found and booked within the OBT.
Keeping Up with New Features
The travel industry rarely stays still, and as a result I encourage all CU members to review Concur’s monthly update, “What’s New at Concur” to stay on top of new features and functionality. You can also join LinkedIn user groups where others share their information and experiences. And finally, our travel management provider Direct Travel (a Concur Preferred Partner), released a new guide, “Reroute to Better Online Adoption” to help customers maximize their travel booking tool.
Katie Virtue: Director, Category Management, Travel at Corporate United
As part of Category Management Team, Katie Virtue is focused on carrying out Category Lifecycle Management efforts across CU’s indirect spend offerings. She oversees the Travel vertical, including Car Rental, Travel Management, Meetings & Events Management and Corporate Housing Solutions. Katie works with members to evaluate CU’s offerings and to bring them a unique experience while collaborating with suppliers to achieve mutual partnership goals. She previously worked in the consulting industry focused on business continuity projects.