Concur Service Yields T&E Benchmarks

Designed to help travel managers establish and enforce sound spending policies on travel and entertainment, the Concur Benchmarking Service is the result of a partnership between Concur and consulting firm Runzheimer International.

Concur Technologies, a provider of corporate expense management solutions, and Runzheimer International, a consulting firm specializing in travel program, policy and cost benchmarking information, have formed a partnership that delivers benchmarking information to travel managers within the Concur Expense solution.

The new service, called Concur Benchmarking Service, integrates benchmarking into an automated corporate expense management system, making T&E (travel and entertainment) pricing information accessible to travel managers. The service is available now as an add-on to Concur Expense Service for $200 to $300 a month.

By integrating benchmarking functionality within Concur Expense Service, managers and administrators can access current travel pricing benchmarks to more effectively establish and enforce policies for all facets of T&E spending, including airfare, hotels, car rentals and per diems.

Concur Benchmarking Service provides current hotel, car and meal costs for 200 U.S. and 100 international locations. The service also provides pricing information on airfares for 600 U.S. and international routes, enabling travel managers to create a baseline against which they can set corporate travel policies.

These limits can then be enforced using the business rules within Concur Expense Service. The benchmarking service also can serve to better estimate costs prior to initiating travel, as well as to leverage actual spending data to negotiate better rates with vendors.

The benchmarking service—which also includes access to additional Runzheimer travel management resources, including policy and practice trends—is a Web-based solution and available to all Concur Expense customers.

Concur Technologies Inc. has been providing travel and expense software since 1993. According to Fred Ingham, vice president of product management, about 1,400 customers in 60 countries use the Concur Expense Service, which is accessed using a Web browser.

Ingham said most of Concurs customers sign on to the service for its ability to enforce policies, detect potentially fraudulent transactions and provide control over travel expenses.

"Expense reporting can be a very leaky part of a companys expenses," Ingham said. "There often isnt a lot of clarity, and the transactions are employee-driven. Concur helps a company set controls over their T&E expenses." He said he thinks the benchmarks provided by the new service will give customers a better idea of what their audit rules should be.

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Some of the questions the service could help answer include: What are reasonable rates for triggering audit rules for transportation in certain cities, or airfares in certain markets? What might it cost us to hold a meeting in San Francisco versus in Chicago based on real data? "Log in to our service via the Internet, and boom, youre getting the latest data available," Ingham said. "Were excited about it, and so are our customers."

The Concur Expense solution is designed to be used by everyone in the company. A client company subscribes to a level of expense-report processing depending on the number of reports it processes. Given this pricing scheme, a company doesnt have to run a paper system for infrequent travelers–everyone can use Concur since its transaction-based.

Fees start at $375 per month for 50 transactions and go up from there. There are volume benefits, and the pricing gets more aggressive as the number of transactions increase.

Runzheimer International assists organizations in managing employee mobility in the areas of travel management, business vehicles, employee relocation or international assignments.

Products and services include travel-management consulting and benchmarking services, employee fleet cost analysis, business driver allowance programs and administrative outsourcing services, comparative cost analysis, and other services to support decision-making for company-sponsored relocations, compensation programs and international assignments.

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