How Lola.com Helps Botkeeper Save on Corporate TravelBy Mike Baker, published on Sep 19, 2019
Negotiated fares, no booking fees, and full visibility help Botkeeper slash travel costs and stay under budget
Like most startups, BotKeeper tries to be very deliberate about the money it spends. Unexpected or unnecessary costs could be enough to knock the company’s budget out of whack. As a business built around accurate and scalable bookkeeping, BotKeeper knows how important it is to control costs.
As the team started traveling more — for marketing events, client meetings and executive travel — it became clear that T&E could easily become one of the company’s biggest budget-busters. Flights cancelled at the last minute, out-of-policy bookings, hidden fees — these were all travel pitfalls that could hurt the company’s bottom line if they were ignored.
Wanting to get ahead of these concerns, BotKeeper’s Employee Happiness Manager, Meagan Dignan, started looking for a corporate travel management solution to help the company handle its growing travel needs, and costs. When she brought up this pain point to her CEO, Enrico Palmerino, he told her about a travel management app he had been using for his own travel: Lola.com.
“We were discussing the nightmarish logistics surrounding travel,” Meagan remembers. “He had already been using it personally and suggested I take a look. And here we are. It’s been a life saver.”
But helping Meagan overcome the “nightmarish logistics” of travel is only the beginning of how Lola has been a boon for BotKeeper. Even more important is how Lola has allowed BotKeeper to save thousands of dollars each year on corporate travel.
In fact, Enrico distilled the financial gains to five key areas:
- Flat-fee pricing
- Travel inventory
- Platform pricing
- Improved visibility
- Time savings
Most travel management companies charge a fee every time a customer books a flight or hotel room, or makes a change to an existing reservation. These fees quickly add up and, perhaps even worse, they’re hard to predict and plan for. A particularly busy quarter for traveling could derail a finance team’s forecast.
Lola doesn’t charge any fees for booking or customer support, and this was a huge reason BotKeeper chose the Lola platform.
“I find that a lot of the other travel management solutions have a premium per flight that they charge you, or anytime you need to submit a support ticket or a change request they charge you extra fees,” Enrico said. “With Lola it’s just one flat fixed monthly fee, which means that we’re really getting more value out of Lola than we would if we were being conscientious around the cost per user and how much they’re actually traveling.”
This pricing model not only helps BotKeeper save money every time they travel, it also helps Meagan save time because she doesn’t need to feel like she’s wasting company money anytime she needs help managing a trip.
“If we had to pay a fee every time we reached out to Lola, I probably wouldn’t reach out as much,” she said. “I’d probably spend more of my time figuring out the answer.”
Lola’s fee-free approach to travel management isn’t the only way the platform helps BotKeeper save money. The platform’s massive inventory of travel options is a huge plus for a company looking to save money on travel. Because Lola gets inventory directly from suppliers AND through its deep industry partnerships, the platform has flight and hotel options that small businesses otherwise wouldn’t have access to. These “negotiated fares” are often less expensive than listed prices, and they are sometimes refundable when they otherwise wouldn’t be.
“I know Lola has probably saved us hundreds of dollars on given flights,” Enrico said. “A couple hundred dollars here or there starts adding up to thousands of dollars, especially when you look at the travel across 60 employees.”
With its extensive travel inventory and completely fee-free 24/7 support, you might think that Lola would charge a hefty platform fees. Luckily for Enrico and Megan, that is far from the case.
When Enrico and Meagan were deciding on Lola, they looked closely at the platform’s annual cost. They knew that the lack of fees and discounted fares would save them money, but they still wanted a solution with a low annual price point.
Lola delivered on that front as well.
“With Lola, it’s just one flat fixed monthly fee,” Enrico said, “and the platform fee to use Lola is extremely affordable.”
In addition to being a good value, the folks at BotKeeper also appreciated how transparent the pricing was. Unlike many other travel solutions, Lola puts it platform pricing front and center. For a growing company like BotKeeper, it was important for them to find a solution that was cost-effective, predictable and completely transparent — and Lola fit the bill across the board.
There’s an old business saying “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” and this is especially true for T&E, where overlooked charges can have a huge impact on a company’s budget.
With Lola, Meagan and Enrico found that Lola’s real-time travel dashboards and reports help them see exactly where their travel spend is going.
“I really love the visibility into the different measures,” Meagan said. “Whether that’s the dashboard letting us know how much we’re spending on a monthly basis, or as granular as when I’m booking an individual flight, I’m able to see exactly how much one-way is going to cost, roundtrip is going to cost, extra baggage...it’s all visible right there."
As a company rooted in accounting, BotKeeper obviously cares about the bottom line. But they also know that being more efficient and saving employees time is an equally important way to achieve high ROI.
“Lola makes it a lot more efficient to manage travel,” Enrico said. The ease of use and ability to save traveler profiles and preferences ensure that BotKeeper’s travelers can easily book (and change) their own travel accommodations.
And it saves Meagan a ton of time providing support during travel disruptions and booking on behalf of certain travelers who prefer that option.
“After Lola, I’m now able to simply invite the individual to the platform and they’re able to do all the booking on their own,” she said. “I’m now able to save eight hours a week just on travel alone.”
“If we were to remove Lola, not only would it require more of my time in managing the logistics of travel, but I think we’d also see a significant increase in costs associated with travel, whether that’s cancelled flights, or more expensive flights, or more expensive hotel rooms, the whole nine. I think we would see an absolute increase in costs.