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This deal is a nice landing for the startup Tripbam, which helps travel managers track prices. The giant in corporate travel software, SAP Concur, needs to watch its back as upstarts like Emburse become assertive.

Emburse, a software provider of expense technology for corporate travel and meetings, said on Wednesday it’s acquiring Tripbam, a Dallas startup whose tools are used by corporate travel managers.

The companies didn’t reveal the price or terms of the deal. A venture-backed startup, Tripbam had raised $1.5 million.

Tripbam’s pitch is that its software can let corporate travel managers and event planners shop across multiple airlines and hotels for reservations, taking advantage of price fluctuations when they happen. If a price goes down on a refundable booking, the software can enable the buyer to re-book at the new lower price. The startup claims this process provides significant savings on a meaningful number of searches.

Tripbam also helps companies audit their travel programs. Corporations often employ travel managers to negotiate volume discounts with airlines, hotels, and other travel providers, typically with pricing that’s essentially agreed-upon marketing conditions.

Haggling with hotels over rates is especially tricky, however. Tripbam is one provider whose tool lets travel managers audit whether or not the prices travel suppliers turned out to be as good as promised.

Emburse plans to offer Tripbam’s auditing tech to its more than 18,000 customers, including companies like Google and ExxonMobil, with a claimed 12 million users. Microsoft, for instance, is a client that uses both Emburse and TripBam for employee travel.

“Emburse Go Premier allows our employees to manage every aspect of their trip through a single app, while Tripbam delivers savings through re-booking at lower rates said Eric Bailey, global director of employee travel and devices at Microsoft.

Consolidation in the corporate travel space may be underway. Emburse rival Coupa last year launched a travel and expense platform and also has a similar price rebooking tool. Both Emburse and Coupa are looking to take share from SAP Concur, the largest player in the segment.

Emburse is the result of a roll-up of several vendors by K1 Investment Management, a private equity group in California — which apparently sees ongoing growth opportunities.

“Was a long process to find the right buyer that was the best for our customers, investors, and employees,” said Steve Reynolds, CEO and co-founder of Tripbam. “Emburse is the perfect fit.  In addition, the combination … provides unique opportunities to disrupt the entire travel procurement process, end to end.”

UPDATE: Article was updated with a comment from the Tripbam CEO.

What are corporate travel expense management tools?
Corporate travel expense management tools are solutions designed to help companies control and monitor their travel and related expenses. They have become of interest to financial leaders, like CFOs, who are looking for ways to streamline the planning and tracking of travel costs, particularly for blended trips that combine business with leisure.

These tools, such as TravelBank’s platform, serve as an all-in-one solution that consolidates several systems into a single platform. They allow companies to build policies and budget parameters into the app, ensuring employees don’t overspend while giving them the flexibility to select their own travel plans.

Additionally, these platforms can reduce travel spend by calculating dynamic trip budgets based on the route flown or incentivizing traveling employees to beat their hotel budget with rewards from within the platform. They also help automate processes such as expense receipt submission, reducing manual effort and errors. For example, the Global Business Travel Association reported that manual expense report processing costs companies $26 in person-power and accounting teams spend an average of 3,000 hours each year correcting errors May 2023.

These are the most relevant articles I found:

How Employee-Friendly Travel and Expense Management Boosts the Bottom Line – 05/10/2023

New Research: How to Manage Business Travel More Efficiently – 10/03/2019

U.S. Travel Tracker January and February 2020: Onset of COVID-19 Impact – 03/26/2020

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Tags: business travel, expense management, expense technology, expenses, mergers and acquisitions, startups, travel and expense, travel startups

Photo credit: A corporate traveler. Photo by Prostock Studio. Source: Adobe.

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