Tag Archives: Coupa Inspire 16

The Carrot and Stick Approach to Open Booking

Open booking is a massive problem for organisations globally, and one of the largest compliance challenges facing procurement.

Open Booking

In the US, over 50 per cent of hotel bookings, and 24 per cent of airline bookings occur outside the parameters of corporate travel programmes. The issue costs organisations $36 billion per year, and is one of the largest compliance challenges for procurement.

But what can be done about it?

Travel Management

Ethan Laub knows travel software. He founded a startup called TripScanner, a travel booking system giving clients the ability to book on any travel website while achieving compliance with their organisation’s travel policies. His startup was acquired by Coupa in mid-2015, and Laub now works at Coupa as a Director of Product Management.

Here at Coupa Inspire, Laub is running a session on open booking. Most of the audience members manage travel in some fashion, and all of them are frustrated by compliance issues. The consequences of open booking are potentially very serious. According to Laub, it can effect:

  • Risk management: if there’s an emergency, you need to know where your employees are and be able to contact them immediately.
  • Sourcing: open booking hampers procurement’s ability to negotiate discounts with travel providers.
  • Policy: making sure people are spending smart and within budget.
  • Visibility: not having any data on travel spend, hampering your ability to make decisions. 

What drives open booking?

Laub asks for a quick show of hands on why people would decide to avoid the corporate travel system. The top five reasons are:

  1. Better Deals: employees who claim they “got a better deal” outside the approved system.
  2. Conference Booking: conferences with hotel discounts where bookings must go through the conference portal.
  3. User Experience: people are increasingly confident in booking personal travel and are unfavourably comparing the quick and easy experience with clunky corporate travel booking.
  4. The Sharing Economy: people preferring to use companies like Uber and AirBnB, often unavailable on the corporate site.
  5. Airlines and Hotels Pushing Direct Bookings: otherwise individuals can’t claim loyalty points, free Wifi, or other perks.

What’s the solution?

Having established that open booking is a serious issue, and explained why people are avoiding company travel sites in droves, Laub recommends travel managers take an approach that best suits their organisation’s culture.

Stick Approach

  • Prohibit open bookings and refuse to reimburse.
  • Flag out-of-policy post-bookings.
  • Escalate repeat offenders to managers.

Carrot Approach

  • Improve User Experience

Over the past 10 years, consumer sites have become increasingly user friendly, while the policy-focused corporate booking tools haven’t kept up. There are a lot of attractive, easy-to-use applications on the market that can improve UX for your site. Some tips:

  • Ensure you have as few steps as possible
  • Explain to travellers why things are the way they are (policy)
  • Communicate the realities of the travel program.
  • Nuance the site to enforce your policies behind the scenes: users shouldn’t be able to see the out-of-policy options
  • Show fare comparisons to prove your negotiated fares are the best option.
  • Reward savings

If the employee comes in under their travel budget, the company shares half of the savings with the employee. This can be considered part of the gamification process of employee management.

  • Clear guidelines

Ensuring that you have clear guidelines for your employees is key. Employees need to understand when it is okay to book outside of the system, and when they need to be following process.

What does the future hold for business travel management?

Check out this video from Coupa that shows the exciting future of corporate travel artificial intelligence. This system anticipates all of your needs and is so intelligent that you’ll fall in love with it – in the case of this hapless user, literally!

Coupa Inspire: Rethinking the Possible with Rob Bernshteyn

Lights, music, action! Hugo Britt recounts his experience of the spectacular opening keynote at this year’s Coupa Inspire conference.

Coupa Inspire

The Faculty’s Hugo Britt recently attended Coupa Inspire ’16, a dynamic conference bringing the Coupa community together in San Francisco, California. 

Doof, doof, doof, doof.

I’m sitting in the Grand Ballroom of San Francisco’s stunning Westin St Francis hotel and the place is packed. The Coupa Inspire ’16 conference is just about to be launched, and all the seats are taken. People are lining the walls and spilling into an adjoining hall, complete with a big screen set up to cope with the numbers.

Outside the hotel lies San Francisco’s famous Union Square, most of which is taken up by an enormous pavilion bearing the Coupa Inspire logo. This is where the exhibiters spruik their products, and also where the 2000 or so delegates gather for breakfasts, lunches and networking.

The tent itself is generating a lot of interest among the locals – I was stopped by onlookers on more than one occasion, who asked me what the tent was for and what was going on in there. You could even hear the word “Coupa” shouted by tour guides from the top decks of the red buses regularly cruising past the square.

In the tent it’s dark, with spotlights flashing around the room, and the music is turned up LOUD. I can feel my ribcage vibrating: doof, doof, doof, doof. The guy at the sound desk receives a cue and, unbelievably, doubles the volume. Into this buzzing, clubby atmosphere, walks Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn, and the crowd roars.

Cultural Buzz

Coupa has to be applauded for the vibrant culture it has created. The 600-strong Coupa team’s enthusiasm is infectious, and the marketing is superb, giving the whole conference the atmosphere of a celebration. This celebratory buzz can be felt in the brilliant ‘Freedom‘ video, featuring the team lip syncing and dancing around their head office and Union Square.

Bernshteyn stresses that Coupa isn’t a technology company. Rather, it’s a “value as a service” organisation. Simply put, it’s about discovering, realising and optimising the value for its customers.

The numbers are impressive. Coupa has been adopted by hundreds of businesses globally, representing millions of users, and over two million suppliers on its open business network. Together, Coupa users conduct tens of millions of transactions per year, with approximately $200 billion in spend under management.

Building on Data

All of this activity on the system generates a vast amount of data, and the developers at Coupa take full advantage of its potential. “Think about what can happen”, says Bernshteyn, “when we combine the insights around the billions of dollars running through our system”. Customers have access to real-time benchmarking that shows how you are tracking against the entire Coupa community.

Bernshteyn also takes the opportunity to launch Perfect-Fit Benchmarks, which enable users to understand savings, invoice cycle time and more by industry and by category. This vertical application means the AI can predict the right time to buy specific products and services based on historical data.

Bernshteyn circles back to Coupa’s catch-cry: rethinking the possible through measurable value creation.

The software’s popularity comes down to the platform’s simplicity, efficiency and ease-of-use, designed to gain maximum visibility of what you’re buying and who you’re buying it from. The phrase “suite synergy” (at first I thought they were saying “sweet” synergy), is used constantly at this conference, referring to the single unified platform that has vanquished the decades-old frustration of software products not speaking with each other.

As Bernshteyn leaves the stage, the DJ enthusiastically takes the opportunity to rattle our eardrums again. I walk past him on the way out, and he has an excited gleam in his eye – he knows that we’ve got a huge event ahead, with more inspirational keynote speakers (including Sir Richard Branson), more exciting product launches…and plenty more opportunities to turn the volume all the way up.

Stay tuned for more from Coupa Inspire in the coming days!