'Tons of Travel, No Complaints'By Emily Parker-Woodland, published on Aug 8, 2019
How Lola.com helps Robin scale Its corporate travel program — without the growing pains
This is the tale of two travel managers, Alix Gregory and Sarah Donahue. They work at Robin, which is a workplace experience tool that helps companies manage meeting spaces and activities in the office. But Alix and Sarah were having trouble managing their own co-workers as they traveled around the country.
Alix, the Operations Lead, was booking travel for the whole company. As the company grew, more employees started traveling for prospect visits, conferences, customer dinners, and more.
Orchestrating all this travel fell to the Operations team, and Alix quickly learned that it was a difficult and complex thing to manage. She spent hours going back and forth with travelers trying to find them the best travel options at the lowest prices.
“The process was super manual. I was vetting dozens of itineraries at a time to find the best options and then waiting for approval from the traveler before booking,” Alix said.
Not only was she spending too much time searching and booking, but when something went wrong during a trip, employees would call Alix for help.
“It was tough. I was working nights and weekends, always on call,” she remembers.
Alix knew there had to be a better way to manage the process, but wasn’t sure if she would find something that could meet all of Robin’s unique needs:
- Cost effective: Following a start-up’s mentality, Alix knew she needed a cost-effective solution that didn’t charge for each booking or change.
- Support: A way to see where travelers were at all times and provide support to them whenever they needed it.
- Super simple booking and expensing: Alix needed to provide an intuitive way for employees to book their own travel.
- Cost control: She needed a way to show employees how much they should be spending, so she could stay within the company’s travel budget.
After doing a little research, Alix found Lola.com and decided to take a demo. She was sold on the tool as soon as she saw it: It offered all of the features she was looking for and was beautifully designed to boot.
But she knew there was more to do to get the company onboard. She needed buy-in from frequent travelers, including their most frequent traveler, the CEO.
“They were used to having me book everything for them, so I knew that they needed to love whatever tool I chose if they were going to use it themselves.”
Alix knew that the best way to get their buy-in would be to let them see the platform for themselves. She was confident that, once they saw it in action, they would fall in love with it just like she did.
She asked a few Lola team members to come to the Robin office to help show travelers how they would use Lola to book and expense their travel.
“It was so helpful having some people from Lola come in and show us how to use the tool. The travelers immediately loved the clean UI and the ability to save all of their loyalty account information.”
Alix was right, and the rest of her team fell in love with the tool. Before long, Robin was officially onboarded with Lola.com. Alix and the rest of the team were excited they were finally getting a platform that made it super simple to book, manage and report on their travel. An annoying part of their job was about to be completely removed.
But there was another Robin employee whose life was about to be just as changed by Lola as Alix’s.
Sarah is the Executive Assistant to Robin’s CEO and the Office Manager. Since bringing on Lola, Sarah has taken charge of the company’s travel booking process, which, thanks to Lola.com, usually just means checking the platform to see where employees are on any given day.
“I love that I can see where our travelers are at all times. It gives me peace of mind to know that if anything goes wrong, we can help.”
But there are still times when Sarah needs to book on behalf of someone else. In those situations, Sarah is grateful she has access to Lola, which allows her to book for her travelers in minutes.
“When we have a group of people on different teams traveling together for a Robin event, I’ll coordinate the travel for them. But when they are going on a business trip by themselves or with only one other person, they just book on their own.”
When Sarah is booking for the CEO, she doesn’t have to go back and forth checking his preferred airlines, adding his loyalty numbers, and confirming his passport information. It’s all saved in Lola and she has access to it when she needs it.
“Once someone creates their profile in Lola, they just give me access to it and that’s it. I’ve got all the information I need to book for them, and they see the booking immediately on their end so it’s easy to make changes when needed.”
Sarah’s favorite feature of Lola is the customer service. She has had to contact them on several occasions during bad weather that caused her team flight delays, and they’ve always come to the rescue.
“The 24/7 support team has really been amazing. Even the simplest thing, like checking someone in for a flight, they nail. It’s such a relief to know that they are watching out for our travelers while they’re on the road.”
Another added benefit Sarah sees is that employees can now have access to Robin’s corporate card within the Lola platform. Travelers appreciate being able to book travel on the company’s credit card and not on their own. Not only does it take away the burden of fronting large sums of money, but it also eliminates the need for expense reports so the Operations and Finance teams are also happy.
When asked how they would summarize using Lola.com, Alix said this:
“Let’s put it this way. This past month was the busiest travel month we’ve ever had. Robin has been at two trade shows, and hosted a few customer dinners. Sarah and I have heard no complaints, no issues, nothing. That silence says everything.”