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Concur has done an excellent job in recent years thinking about what the business traveler needs to do their job better rather than focusing on putting the travel manager first. This is simply the next logical step.
Concur, the business travel management specialists, yesterday and today rolled out partnerships with Uber and Airbnb that give travelers more options for booking transport and lodging while on the road.
The partnerships are part of the expansion of Concur’s TripLink product, which allows employees to book travel on their own, yet share it within their corporate travel program without worrying about breaking any rules. Concur’s new capabilities, as well as Airbnb’s and Uber’s new products, were timed to coincide with the Global Business Travel Association annual conference this week in Los Angeles, California.
Concur has invested heavily in consumer-facing mobile tools for business travelers, from buying and integrating TripIt in 2011 to rolling out apps for iOS, Android, and Blackberry that allow users to book corporate travel from their smartphones to file expense reports using their camera.
Prior to the TripLink integration, Concur was already processing expenses for Airbnb stays for some business travelers, but corporate travel policies at the majority of Fortune 500 companies ruled out Airbnb bookings for its employees. “We know Airbnb isn’t for every road warrior, but for larger groups, longer stays, and relocations, Airbnb offers inspired spaces in memorable places to make the most of any type of travel,” said Chip Conley, Airbnb’s head of global hospitality.
Uber riders will have similar benefits, with travelers being able to automatically expense Uber rides via TripLink.
“This new generation of platform partners reflects the transformation taking place for today’s business customer,” said Tim MacDonald, executive vice president at Concur. “With Airbnb and Uber, we are enabling, in business travel, what consumers already enjoy about collaborative consumption in their leisure. Capturing this spend then gives companies greater real-time transparency into traveler expenditure and itineraries.”
In addition to the Airbnb and Uber announcements, Concur and Starwood revealed an integration on TripLink that would allow business travelers to book directly with Starwood yet manage within TripLink.
In addition to the Concur integration, both Uber and Airbnb rolled out products to encourage more business travelers and encourage more partnerships like the one with Concur. Airbnb launched Business Travel on Airbnb, which allows companies to set up a program with Airbnb that allows employees to book using coupons.
Business travelers are some of the more loyal customers when it comes to hotel chains, and it remains to be seen if Airbnb will become a preferred method of lodging or a fringe case for younger staffers or employees traveling in groups.
The Uber for Businesss product is a dashboard which lets corporate travel managers create a shared payment account for its employees using an Uber online dashboard. According to Bloomber, Salesforce.com and Deutche Bank AG have signed up for the program.
Uber faces a different challenge than Airbnb in that companies have existing relationships with corporate car services that Uber is not currently in a position to replace. Uber’s new business travel dashboard is a start, but most large car services have client-side products that integrate with a company’s internal systems, something Uber has tried to create but has so far been unsuccessful at.