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Concur by March plans to release a new version of its Concur
Connect expense data platform that allows third-party developers to connect to
the technology through application programming interfaces, development tools
and cloud-based services, executives said this month.
Also by March, Concur said it would "deliver itinerary
management capabilities and location-based services to include itineraries from
any source." The two initiatives were among five highlighted during an
earnings call as avenues for growth.
Concur is "taking what we already have and opening it
up," thereby allowing customers, suppliers and third-party developers to "really
connect with it, integrate with it and build on top of it," executive vice
president of worldwide marketing Mike Hilton told BTN.
"It's really allowing customers to have very open
access to their data, their workflow and programmatic access to APIs that will
allow them to extend and leverage the platform," Hilton said.
While Concur already connects directly to some suppliers and
offers e-receipt capabilities, the goal now is "to really open it up very
broadly" and "not make it one-off partnerships or opportunities,"
Hilton said. "That's really the big leap here."
Dozens of suppliers across all travel categories already use
the Concur Connect platform to provide content or enhance data from global
distribution systems. "We want that number to be in the hundreds or
thousands over time," Hilton said. Launch plans—including pricing—had yet
to be finalized, but Hilton said he expected APIs to be released at launch.
However, Concur isn't expected to alter its stance on
allowing competing booking or expense systems to connect into the ecosystem. "I
don't think our answers on those two specific categories are going to be
different than how we've answered in the past," Hilton acknowledged. "We're
willing to work with partners in those areas if we feel that there's the right
partnership." Concur and Amadeus last month announced the availability of
Amadeus eTravel Management integrated with Concur's expense solution as a means
to further penetrate the European market.
Should a traveler security or data management firm want to
integrate, Hilton said, the "short answer is yes. What we're going to care
about is competitive concerns. There's certainly going to be a certification
process. We'll want to ensure that there is quality being added and we're doing
the right thing for customers.
"The value we're going to provide to customers is to
expand to where they can integrate to other internal systems," Hilton
continued. "A good example is to integrate into a customer's own portal."
For example, a company might have a personal page for an executive to approve a
list of itineraries or expense reports. Clicking each one would actually take
the user into the Concur system. "We have some customers who have done
this, but we really want to make that much easier for all customers to have
access to," he added.
Concur is not launching the new Connect platform "in
response to what is going on in the industry at the moment," Hilton said
of the American Airlines-Orbitz issue.
"Our approach to content on the travel side is not any
different today than it was yesterday. The GDS, in our opinion, still is the
best way to get that content. Our multi-GDS strategy remains at the center of
how we think about content. We have augmented that with direct connects when
our customers have asked for it, when it has made sense for them. We will
continue to do that."
Concur is enhancing its existing itinerary management and
location-based services to include "itineraries from any source,"
chairman and CEO Steve Singh said. "Concur's itinerary management services
will allow the business traveler to manage all their travel plans in one
location, whether their plans were booked through a corporate travel agency,
directly with a supplier or both; whether the trip goes according to plan or
has to be modified along the way." The service would allow travelers to
view itineraries on the Web or a mobile device and share them with others, he
Concur in August announced distribution agreements with 10
travel management companies to use its mobile tools for managing itineraries,
even when TMC clients are not using Concur's travel booking system. Concur also
announced relationships with such developers as GateGuru, MetrO by Kinevia,
Mobiata, OpenTable and Taxi Magic.
Hilton declined to reveal how the company would capture
itinerary data booked via other sources, but said, "We're actively working
In a September analyst briefing, Singh said that "several
hundred thousand" travelers were using Concur's mobile services, "and
we think that number will be in the millions in the not-too-distant future."
Seven million travelers from 10,000 corporate customers use Concur products,
according to the company. Long-term, Singh said that "mobile is a very
significant revenue and margin driver. However, today the product is free. We
think the way mobile is monetized is very different from traditional revenues."
Concur by March plans to open local operations in India and
Japan as part of a five-year plan "to become the market-leading provider
of travel and expense management services in each major economy," Singh
said. "Concur already processes several hundred thousand transactions
across India and Japan each year, in the local language and in compliance with
local tax and regulatory requirements," he said. "Over the next two
years, we'll build our local distribution, development and service capacity in
each country. Our initial focus in each market will be large multinationals. We
expect to sign our first local customers in each country in late 2011 or early
While establishing new local offices will require "significant
investments over the next 24 months," Singh said, "we expect both
countries to be significant portions of our overall revenue in the next decade."
Meanwhile, Singh said France in 2010 "became one of the
largest markets in EMEA in terms of new customer growth." Concur also
plans to increase its "existing footprint in Germany."
Concur reported record September-quarter revenue of $77.5
million, 20 percent more than a year ago. However, quarterly profits were down
40 percent to $3.5 million. For its fiscal year, Concur reported revenue of
$293 million, up 18 percent from 2009. Profits for 2010 were $20.6 million,
down nearly 20 percent from the $25.7 million report for 2009.
This report appears in
the Nov. 29 issue of Business Travel News.