Lola.com is designed for ease of use. Lightweight processes are at the core of what we do, and this extends to how we handle approvals in our platform.
Lola is set up so that everyone at your company will use the same system, and thus book travel according to the policies your finance team has established. You don’t want your employees going outside the system you’ve set up for them.
Some other business travel solutions have strict, automatically enforced spending limits where there is no way for employees to book certain hotels or flights.
The problem with strict limits is that there are often valid reasons why an employee needs to spend above the company’s policy. An employee attending a conference, for example, is often best off staying at the conference hotel, even if it exceeds the company's policy, because they will have easier access to the conference and potential business opportunities.
As an example, Concur is the market leader for enterprise-sized companies, and on Concur’s own website, they document the “leakage” problem with their platform as employees book outside of the system to evade approvals. We’ve seen up to 50% of employees at Concur companies “cheat” the system, and sometimes book travel outside of Concur as a way to circumvent many strict limits. This not only defeats the whole purpose of approvals, it also makes it impossible for companies to accurately track travel spend.
The second problem with approvals is that they’re not as valuable as they seem. At companies with strict spending limits, we’ve seen data showing that 98% of requested trips get approved. Companies who have set required approvals end up adding a timely step to their workflows, which is not needed 98% of the time. Flight and hotel prices change rapidly. If you put in a delay, the price quoted might go up by the time the approval is granted.
We found a way around both of these issues. Employees booking through Lola are able to make a reservation immediately, even if it is out of policy. When a reservation is made, an email is automatically sent to the admin for approval. But, the reservation is also processed before approval is granted. If an employee chooses to book an out-of-policy trip, they will be prompted to enter a reason, and the admin will automatically receive an email about the booking. There's oversight, but no unnecessary road blocks.
Lola uses this soft approval process to increase flexibility for travelers and to encourage employees to book within the same system.
We've found that the vast, vast majority of our customers love this lightweight approach to approvals, but we know that nothing is right for everyone. If you disagree with our approach to approvals or have questions about it — email our CTO and Founder, Paul English.
Travel bookers are clearly notified that their selection is over the company-set spending limit.
Travel managers receive instant email notifications when employees make out-of-policy bookings. The emails show how much they overspent and why.
Lola generates an Out of Policy report to show both larger overspend trends and granular detail.
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