Expense management provider TravelBank has partnered with ground
transport firms Cots Group, Lyft, and Uber and vacation rental company
RedAwning to offer user incentives. TravelBank—which launched in October and claims
about 500 corporate clients—goes beyond traditional expense management to provide
trip estimates that travelers can aim to beat. When they spend less than
the estimate, they earn points.
Until now, users were gaining points on faith that
TravelBank would deliver incentive partners. CEO
Duke Chung said they’ll look to add more rewards partners and while the
TravelBank app is available for both Android and iOS, the ability to cash in
rewards is only available for iOS. The Android version will be available soon.
“Most expense systems today are really retroactive. You
don't know what you will get until you open the reports,” Chung said. “We’ve created
a way to bring that process to the front … to help companies make better
decisions with their employees on whether it’s worth going on some of these
How It Works
Users input to TravelBank the trip date and city. The system
generates a trip estimate based on current pricing for airlines, hotels and car
rental companies through an API connection with Sabre. It can calculate meal
costs based on General Services Administration per diem rates. Users determine
which components to include, for example flights and hotel only. The system
does not provide a booking option nor displays specific flights or hotels; it only
calculates the costs using an algorithm.
A manager approves or rejects the trip based on the
estimate. With approval, the traveler books the trip through the company’s
preferred booking method. When the employee submits expenses, TravelBank
calculates whether the traveler beat the estimated budget. If so, the employee
gets to keep 50 percent of the savings in points, which the traveler can use with
the vendors in the Rewards Store. One dollar is worth 100 points. TravelBank also
has a group setting that calculates individual budgets for travelers, but
measures their spend against the overall budget.
Companies cannot alter the percent-savings amount given to
employees because, Chung said, testing showed companies that wanted to keep
more than half of the savings disincentivized users. “Maybe down the road that
will change, but that’s where we see the best results,” Chung said.
Appealing to SMBs &
TravelBank is primarily focused on the small and mid-size
business segment where automated expense management is not well adopted and firms
tend to be cost-sensitive. It’s also catering to the segment's “younger, up-and-coming
workforce” by partnering with providers like Lyft and Uber for rewards, Chung
said. “We think these cooler, on-demand partners are more interesting and are
certainly things our users can use every day.”
In addition to corporate cards, users can also
link personal cards to TravelBank. The system automatically pairs charges to
receipts captured through the mobile app. TravelBank's multicurrency feature
converts 150 currencies back to U.S. dollars for reimbursements. The app opens
straight into the photo-capture feature, similar to Snapchat, thereby reducing
the number of clicks to get to the app’s most common use.
A previous version of this article noted that $1 in TravelBank savings is worth 10 points. The correct point value per $1 in TravelBank savings is 100 points. The article has been edited to reflect this correction.