Category Archives: Travel

The Love of Pulp — and How to Get the Wall Street Journal on the Cheap

- July 18, 2014 10:06 AM | Categories: Commentary, Travel

Man with newspaper on ordinary bench Living in the Atlanta area, I have a certain travel bias in favor of Delta – can’t be helped – so I rack up SkyMiles at a good clip. And here’s the trick – you use your miles to pay for the WSJ. Ok, so it’s not entirely free but comes pretty close. Delta has changed partners for this over the years. Right now it is a company called Newspaper Rewards, and the deal has only gotten better since I got my last subscription. I had to hand over 2,700 miles for about nine months (I think – I renewed back in July last year, but the copies keep coming…) of just the print edition. Now the deal is even better – pay 2,417 miles for 39 weeks of the print and electronic editions. And what's more -- having a newspaper subscription doubles as a weather forecast.

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To All My Consulting Friends and Fellow Road Warriors: Take Care of Yourself

- May 23, 2014 2:45 AM | Categories: Commentary, Friday Rant, Travel

airport Like many Spend Matters readers, I need a good long weekend. This year has (literally) flown by so quickly that I’m close to hitting the overall airline status I was expecting by year’s end—some six months early. But being up in the air and not even knowing what time zone you’re in – not to mention being stuck in airports at every hour of the day and night – is no fun. And it’s arguably not healthy either, even if you love what you’re doing at Point A and Point B and enjoy the work you complete while travelling. So let me offer a few suggestions before the long Memorial Day weekend for my fellow frequent fliers.

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Concur and Procurement: Looking to the Future and Innovation Today

- May 19, 2014 2:15 AM | Categories: Category Management, Invoicing, Travel

Within procurement, many know Concur as a T&E provider, and Concur’s strength in this area no doubt continues. But the company has more to offer procurement than just a T&E reporting tool (albeit an extremely slick one). In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, analyst Thomas Kase will look at some other tools from Concur, show you some screenshots of what their capabilities actually look like, and speculate on where they might be going with their offering. Not a Spend Matters PRO subscriber yet? Contact us to inquire about a 30-day free trial.

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Viva the LVH – A Hilton No More!

- May 16, 2014 9:09 AM | Categories: Conferences, Friday Rant, Travel

Las Vegas, where ISM's annual conference last week was held, has become a bifurcated hotel city of ultra luxury and ultra stank and dirt (it’s always been filthy outside, but in the case of lodging, the middling places are getting dirtier and dirtier). However, it’s not terribly expensive to opt out of the places that have not seen a capital expenditure too recently, especially if you plan ahead. The Spend Matters team stayed for less than the cost of a typical Marriott in pre-paid rooms (thank you, Expedia) at the Wynn Encore, a hotel that is just about as over the top as any top-line Asian hotel chain (Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, etc.). It was a true treat for less than $200 per night.

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Reporting on Fusion 2014 and Concur’s Impressive T&E Solution

Concur – the company best known for its travel and expense reporting solution – is moving along with its annual user conference this week. The approximate 4,000 headcount organization has a fairly substantial number of employees in India – which explains why revenues aren’t already at the $1-billion mark, a number they expect to see in 2016. The company is growing extremely aggressively, both through acquisitions and hiring. Since last year’s Fusion event they have acquired GDSX and TRX – which explains how Concur has managed to add around 1,500 employees in one year’s time. That is rapid growth!

The mantra at this event was “Transparent, Connected, Effortless” – words echoed consistently by the many product management, marketing, and business development executives that I met. It’s not just something in the water in the Seattle area that has created this uniform pitch; the entire solution delivery is built on transparency (e.g. spend, budget, travel plan changes, expenses, credit card alerts, policy infractions, and so on), and connectivity across a partner network (a long list of partners ranging from financial service institutions to travel management firms to rental cars, hotel chains, and other suppliers) and all of it at your fingertips, in other words effortlessly available.

The effortlessness deserves a special comment. Concur has truly delivered a great user experience in their solutions. It is clear from the solution features, options, workflow, and general proactivity that they really know their use case. (Note to self: must persuade Jason Busch to switch our T&E reporting to Concur). Those who have read some of my other solution evaluations know that I can be relentlessly demanding or, as Jason calls me, a curmudgeon. That said, I have nothing but praise for Concur in the design department – is it weird to say that it actually looks fun to do expense reporting with their ExpenseIt tool?

A Spend Matters Plus subscription is required to read the rest of this article. Analyst Thomas Kase goes on to cover the details of the solution and Concur’s plans and potential for future growth. To inquire about a free trial to Spend Matters Plus, please contact Sheena Smith (ssmith@spendmatters.com).

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Ask the Expert: Strategic Sourcing and Procurement Trends from Singapore and Malaysia

- March 25, 2014 6:03 AM | Categories: Ask the Expert, Procurement, Sourcing, Travel

This week's Ask the Expert webinar features Thomas Kase on his recent travels to Southeast Asia. He spoke at ProcureCon Asia in Singapore - and also travelled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he spent several days with a local procurement suite solution provider, MyBiz, and some of their clients. On the webinar, he'll share some of his observations on procurement and sourcing trends in the region in the areas of CSR, corruption, transparency, multi-tier challenges, talent development, and more. Plus/PRO members, join us this Friday, March 28, from 10-10:30am Central!

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Rant: Singapore’s Taxicab Problem and Lack of Modern Payment Systems

- March 7, 2014 9:04 AM | Categories: Friday Rant, Travel

IMG_8698 Gleaming, polished buildings, well maintained landscaping, even slick subway stations with swipe cards that are a pleasure to use—the last one clearly not a Ventra design. You can find food from all over the world and see high-end fashion both in store display windows and paraded about on smartly dressed people everywhere. Singapore is a cleaner version of New York, with thinner people in a Tokyo designed setting with a bit of Hawaiian greenery incorporated. But expect to be frustrated if you need a cab between the hours of four and six in the afternoon.

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Rant: Customer Service on Domestic Flights Leave Much to be Desired

- February 14, 2014 1:45 AM | Categories: Friday Rant, Travel

Greetings from the SFO Red Carpet Club. There were days, pre-marriage and definitely pre-kids, when I enjoyed flying, whether for work or for leisure. And the Star Alliance network, led by United Airlines (now United Continental Holdings) provided the widest reach. Fast forward a few years (after accumulating 200K+ air miles every year and joining the million miler program, not to mention marriage and kids), I now fly only when it’s necessary. So when I logged almost 50,000 miles in the last 60 days (no, I am not trying to reach two million miles), it was like learning a new trick all over again.

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Strategic Sourcing Meets the Hermès and Charvet Set: A Corporate Travel Vote Against US Airlines

- January 31, 2014 10:31 AM | Categories: Friday Rant, Spend Management, Total Cost Management, Travel

Back in 2013, I met with a senior procurement executive for a global bank after we had both had a couple of drinks. I always find talking to procurement heads of banks to be a fun endeavor (especially on the investment banking side – since they must represent spend requisitioned by the biggest prima donnas in the business world with their own set of John Lobb, Andersen and Sheppard, Hermes and Turnbull & Asser preferences). And all the better once they’re sufficiently lubricated to result in more great war stories.

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Category Management: Missing Out on Travel Cost Savings

- December 7, 2012 8:12 AM | Categories: Category Management, Travel

Far too many procurement organizations fail to integrate travel procurement with overall sourcing and supply management efforts. Yet travel represents a fascinating category and overall cost management opportunity. In many industries (software, IT, consulting, financial services, etc.), travel can comprise a substantial portion of addressable spend overall. In other firms, it typically makes up a sizable portion of indirect spend. Attempting to manage this spend can be a chore. On the face of it, travel procurement would seem relatively easy. You start by establishing rules around who gets to stay at what kind of hotel, fly which level of service, […]

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Rearden Launches Deem at Work Platform and Suite For SMB Spend Control and Savings (Part 3)

- August 15, 2012 12:08 AM | Categories: Jason Busch, Procurement, Technology, Travel

Please click here for Part 1 and Part 2 in this series. Of all of the T&E applications we’ve seen over the years, the Deem at Work platform is among the most easy and quick to use, if not the easiest in the market for companies that don’t require all the bells and whistles of enterprise T&E solutions. Even for administrators, the application can be rapidly configured and gets users up and running quickly. The initial process for using the system requires just two steps (for registered companies on the Deem platform). First, organizations must review and confirm company details, […]

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Rearden Launches Deem at Work Platform and Suite For SMB Spend Control and Savings (Part 2)

- August 8, 2012 12:08 AM | Categories: Jason Busch, Procurement, Technology, Travel

Please click here for the first post in this series. When users log-in to the Deem at Work platform, regardless of whether it is branded as Deem or a partner site, they are greeted with a simple search interface with the ability to query a range of categories including office suppliers, IT hardware, building/construction, safety equipment, janitorial supplies, office furniture, office products, and specialty supplies (e.g., restaurant supplies). The Rearden team vets all of the suppliers in the system to make sure they can “deliver on the fulfillment side” in a high-volume environment. To date, Deem is not allowing partners […]

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