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Further illustrating an apparent revival of end-to-end travel and expense managementtechnology implementations, Spain's Amadeus and Germany's SAP are bringing their codeveloped corporate travel self-booking tool to the United States.
Meanwhile, two multinational companies here at the Association of Corporate Travel Executives conference this week detailed what they called successful implementations of end-to-end travel management solutions. For those firms that seek to merge front-end reservations and back-end settlement processes into a unified system, the benefits include cost efficiencies, data standardization, corporate compliance with financial regulations and traveler compliance with organizational policies and procedures.
"Our travel expense solution is run by 3,500 customers and several million end users, and we also have a booking tool on top of that," said Hendrik Vordenbaumen, SAP director of solution management. "We know from our customers that there is an advantage because [travelers] already have to use the expense solution. To get them to use an integrated planning solution is a very nice step forward. This is what you see from KDS, Concur, etc. It is one process where everything is supported."
Vordenbaumen said SAP Travel Management has enjoyed "an average adoption rate of 75 percent with our customers in Europe." Among the first "large-scale" clients to bring the tool to the United States will be Germany-based pharmaceutical giant Merck, Management.travelhas learned.
Amadeus early last year said new corporate customers had "signed up for this solution that is fully integrated in the customers' enterprise resource planning (ERP) landscape," helping to boost bookings in the tool by more than 30 percent year-over-year in the three-month period ending in June 2005. At the time, the figure outpaced Amadeus' proprietary e-Travel booking solution.
Amadeus, SAP and their joint clients are not the only companies that seem to be breathing new life into an integration concept that has been bandied about for years.
Boston Scientific Europe also opted for a single provider of both online booking and expense management tools when it contracted with KDS. "It was taking one player out of the game with respect to making a full end-to-end solution," said finance director Volker Spichal. "The key component that we really wanted to leverage was to do it once, and not have to go out twice and implement the travel and the expense in two stages. Now we are on one platform that drives the workflow ... with respect to both front-end travel and back-end expense management."
Some corporations opt for booking and expense reporting tools from different vendors and rely on integration. Spanish carmaker Seat, for example, last year worked with SAP, which serves as the ERP software provider, and its travel management company, American Express, to link its systems with the Amadeus e-Travel Management booking tool.
"We saved more than 25 percent on average ticket price, which is more than we expected," said Rolfe Wiedenbrug, Seat general purchasing manager. He also reported an adoption rate between 70 percent and 80 percent and a 15 percent reduction in travel agency fees.
Industry executives speaking during the ACTE conference stressed that no one approach to "end-to-end" is appropriate for all companies, and that choices depend on the internal IT landscape, project goals and capabilities of contracted TMCs and technology providers.
"You have to find a solution that works for you and not promise the moon," said Denis Lacroix, Amadeus director of development. "But the most important element is to have a cross-functional team."
Both Wiedenbrug and Spichal said close coordination with internal and external parties was key to their companies' end-to-end efforts. In Seat's case, "American Express was responsible for implementation of the tool, workflow, and traveler training," Wiedenbrug explained, while Amadeus and SAP were tasked with linking their systems to each other and to Seat's other internal systems.
Internally, companies seeking to deploy comprehensive travel and expense systems generally must coordinate activities of various departments, ranging from finance and human resources to travel management and information technology. At Boston Scientific, "we did not have a sourcing or travel management department in Europe, so it was the finance [department] as business integrator, leading the business case," Spichal said. "And without the IT bridge, the project would not have gone anywhere."
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