TripLink proving the right solution to extend managed travel benefits to direct bookings
Just over seven years ago, the Apple App Store didn’t exist. Today, more than 1.4 million iOS apps have been created1 and downloaded one hundred billion times2. Less than 10 years ago, today’s popular e-readers were ideas and bookstores were bustling. Today we find, purchase, download and dive into the first chapter of a bestseller in a matter of seconds. We’re living in what’s been called the “digital economy.” In industry after industry, we’re seeing the speed and scope of innovation challenge old rules, established models and the way things work.
Business travel is no exception. In our new mobile, hyper-competitive, consumer-centric world, innovators and disruptors are delivering entirely new solutions to business travelers. And they’re demonstrating that big thinking and big risks can yield big success:
- In 10 years, Etihad Airways has established itself as one of the world’s leading airlines by re-imagining the flying experience and redefining all classes of air travel. Bookings on Etihad have grown by 250% in the last three years.3
- Airbnb has signed 1,400 corporate customers to its Business Travel program launched a year ago, resulting in 700 percent growth4. Last year, Concur customers saw a near 4x increase in Airbnb bookings (and a 5x increase in Uber rides).
- Zipcar has provided car-sharing options to nearly 280,000 businesses, government agencies and charitable organizations. A Zipcar is reserved every six seconds4.
- Southwest Airlines was once predominantly a leisure airline. Today, Concur customers book one out of every 15 business trips on the carrier.5
- Concur saw a 7x increase in amount of spend by Concur customers expensing Lyft for ride-sharing.6
And the impact of innovation isn’t only coming from new entrants. According to Concur travel and expense data, in 2014:
- One in five Concur customer air bookings were made not through a managed travel program but instead direct with suppliers.
- Even the largest, most tightly managed travel programs are not immune, with the majority seeing more than 10% of their air travel booked directly with suppliers.
Beyond air travel the picture is even murkier, with more than 50% of hotel and car bookings happening directly with suppliers.7
What does this all mean for the state of managed travel programs?
Businesses of all sizes are seeing a rise in “invisible spend,” which ultimately impacts the bottom line—whether through unnecessary spend when discounts aren’t applied, lost leverage to negotiate better rates, or simply spend that’s out-of-policy. The other toll, of course, is the difficulty locating and communicating with business travelers whose itineraries are incomplete.
At Concur, we knew that solving the big and growing problem of invisible spend demanded a new approach. We needed to find a way to embrace the new reality of direct travel bookings—while protecting our clients’ investments in managed travel programs. We needed to innovate to accommodate change but not disrupt what was already working. We also knew success required the innovation of others—not just our own.
An open platform, Concur TripLink connects the business travel industry in new ways that work for every participant.
By extending the benefits of managed travel to direct bookings, TripLink accommodates the era of the new road warrior who books travel their way—but also gives their employers the visibility and control to improve compliance with company policy.
For example, travel managers with TripLink can see bookings being made with non-preferred suppliers or out of policy and configure automatic notifications to enforce policy—something that would not have been possible before. Last, a single itinerary consolidates traveler information, making it simple for TMCs to manage and employers to meet duty of care obligations.
It’s still early days, but we’re excited about the progress we’ve made to date:
- More than 4,750 customers have adopted TripLink to connect their travel programs to a network of partners and services.
- The list of leading travel suppliers connecting to TripLink continues to grow. We’re excited to announce new partnerships with Lufthansa, HotelTonight and Lyft.
- TMCs are writing to TripLink APIs to support direct bookings and enhance their services
When we work together and innovate on behalf of our customers, we, as an industry, can do much more than just adapt to change. We can seize the opportunity to capitalize on it. We can deliver greater savings, greater duty of care and greater traveler productivity and satisfaction, now and for years to come—no matter what innovation or disruption comes next.
3 Concur travel and expense data
6 Concur travel and expense data
7 Concur travel and expense data
Tim MacDonald leads the company’s T&E Cloud initiatives such as fostering an ecosystem of partners to create value for clients, their employees and the travel suppliers who support them as well as developing Concur's data science capability and product offering. Mr. MacDonald’s travel industry experience prior to Concur includes senior vice president & general manager of Expedia US, chairman and president of luxury travel provider Classic Vacations and vice president of product management at Hotwire.