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Expenses software giant Concur is always looking for ways to grow their partner network (Oversight is a partner and offers a connector for Concur customers so data can flow seamlessly from their network to ours.) As constant innovators, they’ve now partnered with Airbnb in the first move to bring “sharing economy” companies into the business travel fold. Airbnb is an example of the consumer travel capabilities on the internet making their way into the corporate world.
But in a broader context, it’s the open travel concept that is making its way into business travel circles. With solutions like AirBnb, business travelers can book their own travel without going through an agent or department, and look for more economical and convenient options in cities where lodging may be scarce or overbooked. As more and more millennials rise in the workforce this trend will only strengthen. The millennial generation enjoys having instant access to the lodgings of their choice at any moment, and AirBnb provides this. So now that Concur is partnering with AirBnb the genie is out of the bottle, but the question is how do we in the travel and expense management space work with the genie.
In the TMC model, behavior is controlled to drive the use of preferred vendors such as airline and hotels. With sharing economy companies and enhanced mobile capabilities a certainty on the horizon, our job as analysts, auditors and travel managers is to learn how to influence behavior. As the travel industry evolves, we can no longer expect to be able to exert the same level of control. Still, we can leverage technology to do our best to monitor and shape traveler behavior.
Within Oversight customers we’ve seen real success when companies apply forensic analysis techniques to identify the “problem” travelers, those with the distinguishable patterns of behavior that are wasting money. Conversely, analysis doesn’t always have to be about finding fraud and misuse, it can also be able finding the champions and compliant travelers. Rewarding the latter will not only save money in the long run, but also adjust the behavior of the former. The great thing is the word will spread throughout the company and the problem employees will fall into compliance. And if they don’t, you’ve got an analysis tool that can prove they do not comply with company policy and take action.
Technology is evolving, and the AirBnb example is just the first of many. And with expense analysis technology you can work with these genies to keep travel spending in check.