It seems like every month a data security breach on an enterprise scale makes headlines. Companies are searching for ways to protect their financial data, and virtual payments offer an easy solution. According to Gabe Rizzi, President at Travel Leaders Corporate, “Virtual payments are coming up in nearly every dialogue we have with existing customers and new prospects about how they can implement a virtual card strategy within their travel program to really insulate against security threats.” With a virtual payment, you get a unique credit card number with each reservation, making the transaction virtually bulletproof.
While the convenience of a virtual payment solution is attractive to many business travelers, when you’re standing at the hotel check-in desk, it can be less appealing. The actual use of a virtual or one-time payments for hotel rooms has been rated difficult to impossible by many business travelers. The technology hasn’t been able to reach all the way from the booked itinerary to the front desk. When there’s no physical card to produce and a fax isn’t cutting it, you have to rely on a travel manager to clear up any issues.
That’s where Conferma comes in. Travel Leaders Group and Conferma have partnered to provide virtual transactions that allow companies to pay hotels around the world before their employee walks into the lobby. The virtual cards they power are accepted anywhere a plastic card is accepted — and in any currency. Conferma payments are accepted by travel merchants in 197 countries and is held within a reservation from initial booking to final transaction.
Using a virtual payment takes the payment responsibility from the employee and moves it to the company. It changes the repayment path from an employee reimbursement to a pre-allocated credit that is pre-paid by the company. Reconciliation and payment stays within the company’s financial environment and doesn’t involve an individual’s credit card accounts.
Some companies require their employees to put their travel expenses on a personal credit card. Due to the high costs of airfare and hotel stays, they may be faced with an inadequate credit limit and spend so much that they max out a credit card – then they’re really stuck. Employees with bad credit or large balances wouldn’t be able to provide a personal credit card to use for a business trip. Virtual cards are seen as an emergent product to address these issues.
The value of single-use payments for businesses ranging in size from small to mega is the same – secure and trackable payments. Each transaction has a unique payment number making it easy for accounting to reconcile the expense. And because a payment number can only be used once, virtual payments offer tighter security. With virtual credit cards, spending limits are usually set to the exact amount of the trip as allocated by a travel management company. This constraint limits the potential for abuse because the spending limit is low.
“We have a lot of customers who are looking for a simple way to reconcile their travel spend,” continues Gabe Rizzi. “The reconciliation of those expenses is simple with virtual payments because you don’t have one card for multiple transactions. It’s one to one.”
Conferma has brought an ease of use to virtual payments, simplifying the process for a Travel Manager to take advantage of this payment option as part of the booking workflow. They offer full integration with all the major GDS’s (Global Distribution Systems), online booking agencies, a large suite of banking partners and Concur to seamlessly include a virtual payment into each reservation.
Virtual payments benefit both the traveler and the company in terms of efficiency. Virtual payments eliminate the need to pay in advance and file expenses later. For frequent travelers, the chance to avoid the expense reimbursement system motivates travelers to use this option when using the company’s online booking system.
Virtual cards offer more transparency to Travel Managers and identifies which employees are booking within their Travel Policy’s rules and spending limits. Knowing that their transactions can be closely monitored prompts employees to align their bookings within the company's policies. And when a traveler knows that payment for a trip is already in place, they’re less likely to cancel at the last minute causing a raft of fees.
Catch up with Conferma and Travel Leaders Group at the GBTA Convention in San Diego this August. In the meantime, find out which technology companies are competing for the title “Best Innovator in Business Travel” at the GBTA Convention.