Reducing Business Travel Expenses with Rocketrip
If you’ve spent any time in a corporate role that requires travel, you’ve probably noticed just how bad things are. Not for the employee that’s traveling of course, but for the company’s shareholders. That’s because everything about the current system encourages waste. When you travel for business, the majority of business travel expenses will fall under airfare, hotel, and food. Large corporations like American Express will usually handle the airfare, and they have absolutely zero incentive to sell you the cheapest ticket. Try it some time. Get those vampires on the phone and have them price a ticket, then at the exact same time, just price the same trip on Kayak.com. See?
Then there are hotel bookings. Amex will also handle these, or maybe your firm will have a John-in-Mumbai type booking the rooms from an “approved hotel list”, which is always the most expensive. That’s because some pretentious prick in the sales department will complain if it’s not. Then there are food allowances, also called “per diem”. Usually it’s about $100 USD a day, which makes sense if you frequent Tokyo for business. However, if you’re traveling to Manila to setup a BPO operation to replace John-in-Mumbai, you’ll find it next to impossible to spend $100 a day. Or will you?
It’s always more fun in the Philippines they say, and that’s especially true if you’re a business traveler who games the system a bit. Here are some dirty tricks to max out those business travel expenses that you won’t find in your company manual:
- Why not invite a mate along for dinner? Just be the first one to arrive and order a drink immediately. They’ll put “Guests – 1” on the check instead of “Guests – 2”. Then when your mate arrives, just order pizza, or tapas, or any other sharing dish and max that budget out.
- Have a daily allowance for the hotel minibar? Throw those little bottles of Johnny Walker Red in your suitcase every day. It adds up.
- Want to know an even better trick to get free booze? Just stay in the hotel and charge it to your room as “room service”. Very few hotels out there itemize that isht at checkout. Go grab a sandwich at the grocery store, then order 5 bottles of wine for “dinner” and have your mates over.
- As a matter of fact, forget the hotel. Just ask for a corporate suite with a kitchen instead. Tell them you’re “cooking for yourself to save the company money”, and then eat on the cheap while stocking up on top-shelf ingredients from the local grocer like Hungarian paprika or Italian truffles.
We’ve never done any of this before, just read about it in books. The point is, you can see how many ways there are to max out a company’s business travel expenses without the slightest hint of impropriety. If companies were smart, they would incent employees to save money during business travel by giving them a cut of the savings. We’ve literally been begging for this for decades. Now some genius named Dan Ruch has sorted out a platform that is about to turn the $1.2 trillion business travel industry on its head.
Founded in 2013, New Yawwk startup Rocketrip has taken in just over $32 million in funding to develop a “behavioral change platform” that incents employees not to do any of those dirty tricks we mentioned earlier. Turns out everyone’s been gaming the system, because Rocketrip found out that on an average per trip basis, business travel costs 66% more than leisure travel. Rocketrip clients who use the solution have found that on average, they realized costs savings of $208 for each employee trip. But how?
It’s really simple actually. Each traveler receives a custom budget based on an algorithmic prediction of what a given itinerary should cost.
If the traveler spends less than the target, he or she keeps half of the savings. The platform incentivizes cost-effective travel spending with real rewards – including gift cards, cash cards, and charitable donations (rolls eyes). In this way, the prick from the sales department can still stay in the posh hotel without feeling jilted while those of us who understand the value of money can opt to stay in a less nice hotel and pocket the savings:
“But I don’t want to spend my entire trip pinching pennies” we can hear people saying, and we don’t disagree with you. The fact is, one or two small behavioral changes can result in a serious chunk of change. Check these average savings out:
While some of you may not think these savings are that meaningful, just think of how much money this is for someone who works in an emerging market center. This is an excellent way to incent people in low cost locations before you replace them with robots that don’t need to travel. You can also pick and choose which trips you stand to gain some real savings on. In one instance, they had an employee realize an $11,000 savings on a 5-night stay (presumably with no notice) flying from Chicago to Sydney by choosing coach instead of business and by staying with a friend.
Rocketrip has plenty of case studies that show how the system works. Anyone remember Roivant? The lads over at Softbank who have chucked over a billion dollars at this venture will be pleased to know that Rocketrip has been keeping Roivant’s employees from pissing away all that cash on business travel expenses:
And get this. The Rocketrip “behavioral change platform” actually increases employee morale. Apparently, people like it when you give them a cut of all the money they’re saving you. Who knew. That’s why some big names have signed up to use Rocketrip’s platform, names like General Electric, Twitter, Edmunds, and even Priceline.com – which goes to show you it’s not about finding better deals but changing employee behavior so that they are encouraged to spend less on business travel expenses.
While we try our hardest to stick to disruptive technology topics here on Nanalyze, sometimes we can’t help ourselves, and we feel compelled to let the world know about disruptive ideas. What this incredible man, Dan Ruch, has done here, is to integrate his platform with Concur so that it’s seamless to adopt, and firms have very few objections to raise when the Rocketrip sales team comes knocking. (If you’re not familiar with Concur, it’s used for tracking expenses, and just another one of those expensive SaaS solutions that HR people trip all over themselves to adopt.)
Of course, many of these HR SaaS solutions like Concur just end up costing company shareholders even more money, because they don’t put a check on the sort of incompetent business practices that have led to a $1.2 trillion business travel industry that contains billions of wasted dollars in business travel expenses. Now, that may be changing thanks to champions like Mr. Ruch who are finally sorting things out. To you Mr. Ruch, we raise our minis of Johnny Walker Red, and we salute you.
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