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Concur Technologies is working to integrate electronic receipts from hotels, car rental firms and other travel vendors as part of a new vision for its end-to-end platform that also includes a new expense interface, analytics to mine new data sources and incentives for traveler adoption.
Concur CEO Steve Singh and chief technology officer Michael Hilton last week shared with about 800 customers at its user conference in Orlando plans to evolve the "One-Click" integration of Cliqbook and Concur Expense to automatically populate expense reports, offer data analytics to corporations and provide travelers with such personalization as mapping, traveler reviews and weather.
By mid-year, Concur expects to introduce e-receipt integration with launch partners Hilton Hotels and Hertz, but is also negotiating with many others. The vision is to deliver electronic receipts of the hotel stay or car rental, along with credit card transactions, into expense reports that begin generating themselves when the traveler first books a trip. Singh also promised that the e-receipts would meet Internal Revenue Service approval.
"Why isn't the click that books your trip the same click that starts your expense report?" Singh asked users. It's important, he added, as virtually everyone files an expense report when returning from a trip. Singh believes that "90 percent of the expense report should be done for you automatically."
To make this a reality, Hilton said Concur must send suppliers not only reservation details, but also booking, card and traveler information to allow them to validate and return an electronic receipt. "A good chunk of that work is already done on the travel side," Hilton said. But the work left to do is on the expense side, ensuring that the details flow through to expense reports. "In the next two quarters, you'll start to see those things pop in fully on the travel and expense side--100 percent. So, you're talking about a matter of months before it's fully ready for customers."
Updating the standard expense report template--essentially a spreadsheet format--Concur showed an expense interface that more closely mirrors travel bookings with expenses in one column and the detail, such as credit card or e-receipts, available in a second column. The look, Hilton said, is similar to Outlook, or the new Yahoo! e-mail client. In the example, Hilton showed the air detail as a mirror image of the airfare screen the traveler was presented at the time of booking. So, managers "will see not only what I booked, but what I didn't book," he added.
Concur also showed a new, single interface for the entire end-to-end suite, with login, a home page of pending trips or expenses to approve, trip templates for frequently traveled routes and reminders of preferred vendors or policies. On booking screens, Hilton also previewed a new icon that would identify suppliers offering e-receipts, intended to incentivize travelers to book those vendors as a means to ease expense reimbursement. Personalization such as mapping of hotels and appointments, travelers' reviews of properties or suppliers and weather are also planned. Officials also noted that they are working on mobile access to allow changes to trips or expense reports via hand-held devices.
"The one big question is how aggressively can we move to this new look and feel and a completely consistent integrated experience for the user," Hilton said of the vision. "That's probably the biggest change that has to happen, but something we're actively working on. I would be very surprised if a year from now, we've not made substantial progress toward that end goal."
By integrating booking, expense, card and transaction level details, Concur also hopes to give corporations more visibility into the leakage from their travel programs. New line-item detail, such as the cost of not self-fueling rental cars detailed on e-receipts, would provide corporations with visibility to better manage their spending, Singh said.
A suite of data analytics would also be delivered to help managers analyze all this, said Rajeev Singh, Concur president and Steve's brother.
In addition to providing benefits to corporations, Rajeev Singh said e-receipts would provide "compelling benefits to suppliers to participate in the process. Certainly Hertz and Hilton view this as an incremental benefit that they can provide to the corporate and to the travelers. In these very, very competitive markets, incremental benefits that you can provide to the buyer and traveler are pretty hard to come by."
Concur has been leveraging an increasing number of direct connections to supplierswith e-receipts. "Some vendors are going to give us electronic receipts even if it's not a direct booking; others are tying this together," Hilton explained. "That's how the conversations are unfolding today."
Concur's volume also is a factor, officials said, as the company has more than 5 million end users across 4,000 accounts and expects to add up to 1,600 new customers in 2006. "This year, Concur will process over 18 million travel and expense transaction and over 9 million images--image packages associated with expense reports, not the receipts. We manage over $20 billion in travel spend globally," Rajeev Singh said. Based on PhoCusWright's estimates for the corporate travel market, Concur officials claim to manage about 6 percent of global corporate travel spend and 12 percent of the U.S. market.
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