Archive for Concur

SAP Concur Travel Bot Now On Slack

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 14, 2018 by itnerd

According to IDC, 75 per cent of workers will use digital assistants by 2019. At SAP Concur, we’ve seen an increased desire to have digital assistants in the workplace firsthand, with over 100 teams installing the Concur Expense bot on Slack within the first 10 hours of its release. Building on this Concur Expense bot adoption, they are now introducing the Concur Travel bot on Slack, available in beta to joint Concur Travel and Slack customers.

SAP Concur leveraged the expertise of their Hipmunk team – who built the first and one of the most popular consumer travel chatbots in the industry – and the Concur Travel team, who deeply understand the needs of business travelers. From there, we partnered with Slack, the fastest growing team collaboration hub, with over 8 million daily active users, to deliver a world-class assistant that enables Concur Travel bookings directly in Slack.

 

Work Collaboration, Travel Integration 

Slack connects you to the right team members and the right information to get work done –in fact, the average team spends 10 hours a week in Slack. SAP Concur also found 40 per cent of flights booked in SAP Concur in 2017 had at least two users from the same company on board. Did those two coworkers know that ahead of time? This is why they found it natural to build a Concur Travel bot on the Slack platform. They wanted to make business travel collaboration simpler and bring the Concur Travel booking process to the space where you’re already working and chatting about your upcoming business trips and meetings together. Now, the Concur Travel bot on Slack can save frequent business travelers time, allowing you to search and book together with coworkers right from Slack.

Here’s what the @Concur_Travel_Beta bot on Slack can do for you:

  • Breezy browsing: Easily search for in-policy flights that take advantage of your company’s negotiated rates without leaving Slack. Simply type a keyword such as “search” or “flights” and the @Concur_Travel_Beta bot will display flight search fields, allowing you to filter by destination, departure and return dates, fare class, preferred airlines, and more, right from your Slack conversation.
  • Group planning: Instead of sending flight options back and forth over email, you can now look up flights within your Slack conversation talking about travel plans. You can share trips or look up flights in real time with colleagues. Co-booking works in public, private, or one-on-one Slack channels, making coordinating your travel plans with colleagues easier than ever.
  • Seamless booking: Once flight selections are made, the bot will use your SAP Concur profile to auto-populate saved payment and reward program information for seamless booking.
  • Auto-expensing: Have your @Concur_Travel_Beta automatically import your itinerary into Concur Expense, creating an expense entry for your flight– simply click “submit” when you touch down at the end of your trip.
  • Itineraries on demand: Type “trips” or “itin” to review and access upcoming flight and hotel reservations in your chat with @Concur_Travel_Beta.

 

Expanding from Consumer to Business Ready

Tapping into learnings from the Hello Hipmunk chatbot, SAP Concur built the Concur Travel bot on Slack specifically for you: a business traveler who wants to get your travel planning done quickly.

Based on user research, they discovered that business travelers care less about banter with an artificial assistant, preferring assistants who quickly understand what they want over bots that led them down back-and-forth conversations. Business travelers, more than leisure travelers, require chatbots to understand their intent and queries with a high level of accuracy. Because of these findings, @Concur_Travel_Beta app for Slack uses forms, menus, self-updating messages, and other novel messaging UI elements to understand intents quickly so we can accomplish your task fast.

Being accessible and available to group chats is another big lesson the Hipmunk team applied to @Concur_Travel_Beta. They  found through their own research, experiments within Hello Hipmunk, and by watching the evolution of the chatbot industry, that including chatbots in group conversations can help with bot discovery and engagement. With Slack’s slash command (i.e “/concurtravel”), users can now call @Concur_Travel_Beta to provide flight and trip information in any conversation they have with colleagues.

 

What Else? 

SAP Concur is excited to demo the Concur Travel bot on Slack to customers and partners this week at GBTA Convention in San Diego. The Concur Travel bot is now available to joint U.S. customers in the Slack App Directory and SAP Concur App Center. The Concur Travel bot on Slack is a collaboration between Concur Labs, Concur Travel, and Hipmunk.

 

 

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SAP Concur Sees That Airbnb Corporate Travel Bookings Are On The Rise

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 9, 2018 by itnerd

Businesses and employees have been turning to alternative forms of accommodation for the past few years – most notably with Airbnb – and this trend shows no sign of slowing. As a response to this growing demand, SAP Concur announced this week that it is the first corporate travel solution to offer Airbnb listings directly from their travel platform, Concur Travel. Business travelers can now search, book and review Airbnb properties alongside hotels.

SAP Concur / Airbnb Data

Total booking amounts for Airbnb increase across the globe

Worldwide, SAP Concur data shows Airbnb bookings are on the rise, with APAC (85%), EMEA (65%) and the Americas (53%) all continuing upward year-over-year growth. In the Americas, the U.S. still expensed the highest amount of Airbnb lodgings. However, Mexico showed the fastest growth in spend, followed by Canada and the U.S.

Toronto among most expensed cities, along with San Francisco and London

Toronto is the only Canadian city to be included in a ranking of the most expensed cities. On SAP Concur, business travelers expensed more spend on Airbnb accommodations quarter-over-quarter in San Francisco than any other city, while London consistently ranked second place.

Quarterly variances in Airbnb expenses on SAP Concur often correspond to large industry events. For example, bookings spike in Austin, TX during Q1 each year, as business travelers make their way to South by Southwest. The top five spots are occupied by eight different cities across the eight quarters that were measured.

Airbnb lodging for business travel continues to grow globally among SAP Concur customers

According to SAP Concur expense data from Q1 2016 through Q4 2017, they found:

  • More business travellers are booking earlier. In 2017, 54% of Airbnb bookings were made at least 15 days in advance, an increase from 2016 (45 percent)
  • Business spend on Airbnb peaks in October. On average, SAP Concur customers spend 26% more on Airbnb lodgings compared to other months. In fact, October happens to be one of the busiest months for business travel overall, with previous SAP Concur data showing 20% more business travellers making trips during this time of year.
  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the most popular weekdays for Airbnb stays, with an average of 22 percent more bookings on these days compared to other weekdays.
  • Higher Education institutions continue to spend the most on Airbnb lodging per year across industries, followed by technology companies.
  • From 2016 to 2017, the percentage of Airbnb bookings in SAP Concur which either began or ended on a weekend increased from 51% to 56%.

Airbnb Integration with SAP Concur

Airbnb has been a valued partner to SAP Concur for years. The connection to Concur TripLink has enabled travelers to stay within company policy while booking lodging directly from Airbnb.com. In the coming weeks, Airbnb listings will be viewed directly within Concur Travel. As the only corporate travel solution with Airbnb listings embedded directly in the online booking tool (OBT), SAP Concur clients can now seamlessly search for and view Airbnb listings alongside hotels, including pictures of properties and review ratings which are so important to Airbnb customers.

This builds on Airbnb’s existing connection via TripLink, which simplifies expense reporting after a trip as itineraries and e-receipts are automatically fed back to SAP Concur, helping prepopulate employee expense reports.

 

Guest Post: SAP Concur’s Voice Assistant Technology Is Bringing Consumerization To The Corporate World

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 30, 2018 by itnerd

By Kevin Craig, Managing Director, Canada, SAP Concur

Over the last few years we’ve seen the market for voice assistants grow rapidly — estimated to reach $7.5 billion by 2024. While assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are more commonly marketed to simplify life at home, their role at the office is saving businesses significant time and money.

Conversational interfaces are one of the fast-growing trends in tech, and voice assistants have helped bridge the gap between consumer convenience and workplace efficiency. The list of business applications for virtual assistants keeps growing.

Alexa for Business, announced this past November, is one of many new technologies based on trigger-response programs. Voice bots and interfaces, chatbots, and messaging platforms are each capable of capturing and filtering key information and delivering customized responses to users.

For example, SAP Concur—a leading travel, expense and invoice management company— recently announced integration with Alexa for Business, allowing business travellers to ask Alexa about upcoming business trips, flights, hotel bookings, and transportation.

Employees just have to link their SAP Concur account to Amazon, and their voice seamlessly triggers a personalized experience. Workers simply have to say: “Alexa, ask Concur” to access their latest business travel information. They can ask Alexa questions like, “When do I leave for my next business trip?” “What is my flight number?” “What hotel do I have booked?” Alexa will then be able to sort through the traveler’s bookings in the Concur system to retrieve the information.

This development represents a massive shift in workplace productivity and efficiency. Users no longer have to be concerned about keeping records, forgetting about minute trip details—all of this data is stored within SAP Concur software and can be accessed simply by asking Alexa about it.

Alexa for Business also has the power to place conference calls through companies like Cisco, incorporate calendars from Office365 and Google’s G Suite, and access Salesforce data.

SAP Concur has been working on the development of other virtual assistant platforms that seek to improve workplace efficiency. For example, we created a Concur Expense on Slack bot to bring SAP Concur to users, in Slack, where many customers spend several hours a day. With the bot, you can interact with Concur Travel and Expense in a conversational manner, sending requests instead of navigating webforms. This means you can type simple notes and instantly retrieve travel and expense information.

Virtual assistants are bringing the business world into the 21st century, introducing a consumer-driven experience that bridges the gap between convenience and workplace efficiency.

 

5 Tech Trends Influencing SMB & ENT Businesses in 2018: SAP Concur

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 9, 2018 by itnerd

With 2018 here, here are a few insights from executives at global travel and spend management company, SAP Concur, on what technology trends will shape businesses big and small and impact employees most in the new year. Here are the topline trends:

  • The sophistication of small business. Historically, enterprise tools have been too costly for small businesses but in 2018, small businesses will adopt cloud-based enterprise tools at a faster pace to enhance business functions.

Historically, enterprise tools have come with an enterprise cost, effectively pricing out many technologies for small businesses. Not anymore. The rise of the cloud has leveled the playing field by ushering in a world of web-based apps that are cost-effective for small businesses to deploy as they position themselves for rapid growth. In the coming year, small businesses will adopt cloud-based enterprise tools at a faster pace to enhance business functions. For example, we expect technology will help small businesses tackle traditional functions such as corporate travel management as well as take advantage of emerging technologies like chatbots. We will also see small businesses prioritize enterprise tools that are built to scale, poising them for growth while growing alongside them. – Christal Bemont, SVP and GM of the Small, Midsized and Nationals Business Unit, SAP Concur

  • Preferences, predictive analytics, and personalization will change everything, including business travel.

“Technology is surpassing business travellers where they are and forecasting their next move. Predictive analytics will transform the traveller experience by anticipating, recommending and booking optimal travel itineraries based on past experiences, calendars, user profiles and preferred loyalty programs. Advanced technologies will take personalized travel experiences even further with customized room temperature, amenities and entertainment preferences ready upon arrival. On top of that, virtual concierges will offer 24/7 assistance to book dinner reservations, reschedule meeting spaces and request rides.”– John Dietz, Vice President, Concur Labs, SAP Concur

  • Conventional expense reports are no more as businesses embrace paperless processes and a greater breadth of payment and reimbursement options.

As advanced technologies become further integrated into travel and spend management software, expense reporting will automatically happen in the background and save employees time to focus on business priorities. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and scanning recognition technologies will continue to eliminate manual expense reporting tasks, while paper receipts will become obsolete with the standardization of e-receipts and countries like France, Spain, China and Japan deregulating paper receipt documentation and validation. Machine learning and automation advancements will also make it easier to spot patterns across data, leading to a decline in expense fraud. In tandem, non-traditional payment technologies like Blockchain and vCards will fundamentally change the way transactions and reimbursements are handled, becoming the new norm for managed travel programs. – Hendrik Vordenbaeumen, Vice President of Product Management, SAP Concur

  • Business traveller safety to remain a C-suite level priority, and turn to analytics to solve it.

In light of recent events and natural disasters, business traveller safety is a growing concern. When employees are traveling, the business is responsible for their well-being and safety, and yet GBTA found that nearly one in three travel managers do not know how long it would take their company to confirm the safety of every employee after an incident. This is a c-level responsibility and executives need to be assured their company can reach and account for their travellers during emergencies. In the year ahead, we expect duty of care to remain at the top of c-level priorities. Businesses will continue scrutinizing their data, systems, processes and procedures to determine how they can improve their ability to locate and communicate with their employees when the unfortunate occurs. Mike Eberhard, President, SAP Concur

  • Invisible employee spending becomes visible (and manageable) with data

Employees are gaining more access to and will spend more of corporate funds across more spend categories using more payment methods than ever before. This trend is poised to heat up as even more GenZ workers hit the workforce and are paying more supplier invoices directly with company checks; booking and managing travel directly on their mobile devices; and using corporate, ghost, virtual, or even personal cards for just about everything.  This employee-initiated spend has fast become the largest unmanaged spend category in almost every company’s financial program largely due to the fact that there’s minimal or no forethought or oversight from finance and procurement managers into this spending. It doesn’t have to be this way. The technologies available to automate and track this spending have caught up with technologies used to spend the money. The future is here. With a better understanding of where employee spend is really happening and the categories it comes from, finance and procurement managers can develop a strategy to better manage it proactively and ultimately save money. – Guy La Corte, GM of Americas Enterprise Business, SAP Concur

Find out more about SAP Concur here.

Concur Finds That Business Travellers Like Uber In Quebec

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 27, 2017 by itnerd

With the news that Uber is potentially leaving Quebec because of a disagreement between them and the provincial government over rules for ride sharing companies, Concur took a look at their data and found that Uber had a huge amount of growth with business travellers to the province earlier this year.

As it turns out, business travelers to Quebec are going to miss Uber when it goes. Concur, which represents 57 per cent of the global business travel and expense management industry, found that businesses travellers have been increasing their use of Uber in Quebec in the first half of the year, demonstrating that consumer habits are bleeding into corporate travel preferences.

Concur compared Uber usage among business travellers from Q1 2017 to Q2 2017, finding:

  • Uber transactions among business travelers in Quebec are up 37.4 per cent quarter over quarter.
  • Users expensing Uber in Quebec are up 45.7 per cent.
  • Spend on Uber in Quebec is up 42.9 per cent.
  • Companies with employees expensing Uber rides in Quebec are up 33.1 per cent.

Will this sort of data help get the two sides in this dispute closer together? We’ll have to see. October 14th is the date that Uber plans to exit the province if they can’t come to an agreement.

Concur Makes Three Announcements At GBTA 2017

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 17, 2017 by itnerd

This weekend Concur announced a number of new offerings to improve corporate travel at the annual GBTA Convention 2017. Here is a short summary of announcements:

  • Concur announced an expanded partnership with Airbnb. Corporate travellers will be able to search for and book Airbnb listings embedded within the Concur Travel platform. Itineraries and e-receipts will also sync with Concur Expense.  This is the first time Airbnb listings will appear on a corporate travel partner’s platform.
  • Concur announced the availability of Concur Locate and Active Monitoring, which gives businesses the tools they need fulfill their duty of care and find, inform and communicate vital information with employees who are travelling in minutes during times of crisis and uncertainty.
  • Concur Travel has new features that reduce time and costs associated with booking and managing travel. The features include new TripLink supplier connections and increased adoption, virtual cards for hotel bookings and branded fares to offer low-cost airfares bundled with select travel perks.

Concur Locate and Active Monitoring is available now. The Airbnb offerings and new Concur Travel features will become available in the coming months.

Airbnb Listings Now Available Within Concur

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 14, 2017 by itnerd

Concur today announced the availability to view and book Airbnb listings embedded within Concur Travel.

Embedded listings allow travelers to search for Airbnb listings directly on the search results page of the Concur online booking tool. The tighter integration will deliver greater flexibility for businesses to offer alternative lodging choices to business travelers within their existing travel management program and policy framework while delivering the ease of use customers have come to rely on from Concur, with itineraries and e-receipts being automatically fed back to Concur to simplify expense reports. Concur is now the only online business travel booking tool with Airbnb listings.

Airbnb usage continues to show strong growth over time, with the number of business travelers expensing Airbnb accommodations increasing by 33% year-over-year in Q2 2017.  In fact, employees from more than 250,000 companies in over 230 countries and territories use Airbnb for work. Concur Travel connects users seamlessly, while allowing organizations to maintain control over spend and compliance with corporate and regulatory requirements.

Airbnb listings are expected to be available in the coming months. For more information, visit the Airbnb blog.