Small steps, big rewards on the road to frictionless travel

Bertrand Blais | August 1, 2019

An overview of the July enhancements of Neo.

Let’s face it, business travellers want to spend the least amount of time possible booking trips and filing expenses. They just want to get on with their “day job” rather than wade through paper receipts from a trip or feel frustrated that their online booking tool (OBT) doesn’t match up to the apps they use when booking their leisure breaks. These experiences can be improved by improving on lots of apparently small things. This makes the whole package even better – that’s what we’ve done with our latest upgrade of Neo.

Everything needs to be as easy as possible or “frictionless” for the traveller – from the moment they begin searching for flights and hotels, to filing expenses with the minimum of fuss and time wasted. The same goes for their organisation’s back office and IT departments who need less friction as well, so they can get on with more important projects rather than manually processing expense reports or managing lengthy implementation projects.

Providing the best user experience is paramount and that’s always been our key goal in developing our Travel & Expense (T&E) tool Neo. Creating the best online booking and expense management app in the market means offering the same kind of experience travellers enjoy when booking leisure trips through the likes of Airbnb, or Kayak, but making sure the business needs are met as well.

To this end, one of the most important developments in our latest Neo upgrade is to increase the back-end capability to make the tool significantly faster. We know the number one complaint from business travellers about OBTs is that they are just too slow, so we have improved the average processing time by 20%. This increase in performance should help discourage travellers from straying on to consumer sites, and as a result book more travel that complies with company policy.

We also made Neo a bit easier to use by increasing filtering options, as well as reducing the number of clicks needed to book travel or file expenses. This will allow users to find the right hotel or flight in the shortest possible time and claim back expenses, even from the road.

Users can now filter hotel properties for the things they need to make their stay better, like a swimming pool or parking, for example. They can also now see airline luggage allowances listed alongside the initial search results for flights, with no need to click through to fare details or even another web site to make sure a bag is included in the fare.

Travellers can now see company booking policy in the interface without any extra clicks. If an option presented is not in policy, rolling over the non-compliance badge shows what the travel policy is for that type of hotel, flight or rail ticket. For example, for a Paris-New York flight option they may see that the company allows business class to be booked for a flight of more than five hours.

We know more and more people want to use their mobile devices for both travel and expense. The numbers back that up – 20% of expense claims are already made through the Neo mobile app and 350,000 receipts have been scanned through our app since we launched new OCR (optical character recognition) software in April.

It’s just easier to keep track of everything if you can file expenses as you incur them and file your report as soon as you’re done.  So we keep investing in a consistent user experience across all devices – smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Our latest developments make it simple for users to complete the full expense report process right in the mobile app – from adding scanned receipts to submitting complete claims for reimbursement. Checking up on reports already filed is easier too with a new filter to search reports based on status. Users can see the amounts authorized by managers for reimbursement, so there should be no difficult conversations when the traveller gets back to the office.

Of course, while we strive to create the best “consumer-led” platform, we always keep in mind that we are a B2B solution and it’s essential to maintain a balance between what the company needs and what the end user wants. For the end users, our efforts in analysing how Neo is being used to further improve the experience has resulted in user satisfaction rates increasing by 15 percentage points between January and July 2019.

At the same time, for admin and back-office users, we’ve reduced the time it takes to load in a catalogue of expense types for new expense customers. This reduces what used to add one to two days to an implementation project down to less than one hour, making it easier to get up and running with Neo.

We want to play our part in making the frictionless end-to-end business trip a reality – for everyone involved in a company’s travel programme. By constantly improving lots of little pieces of the solution, travellers will no longer have to spend a whole afternoon in the office sorting through a mountain of paper receipts after a trip and travel managers can enjoy the benefits of an efficiently run travel programme.