Palo Alto-based corporate travel technology specialist TripActions has secured a $500 million debt facility to back the launch of Liquid, its new travel payments platform.
Liquid provides corporates with a virtual card to use for up-front purchases of travel like flights and hotels, and a physical Visa credit card for staff to use while they are overseas.
The new debt facility, provided by Silicon Valley Bank, Goldman Sachs and Comercia Bank, will allow TripActions to provide the credit Liquid will provide to its corporate travel clients.
Ariel Cohen, TripActions co-founder and chief executive, said: “TripActions Liquid is a global payments solutions designed specifically for business travel.
“It comes from TripActions identifying what are the main pain points. We have solved the first big one which is how you book your trip and how companies manage travel programmes, now we are solving the other part, which is payment issues.
“To pay for airlines and hotels and for restaurants and taxis when you are on the go is extremely challenging. Analysis and the reporting and everything around that is really antiquated.”
Michael Sindicich, general manager special projects at TripActions, said the firm has spent the last four or five years striving to become “the default tool for corporate travel management”.
And he said the firm has taken an intense approach to focus on the end user to both provide value to them and to remove some of the “clunkiness” associated with business travel.
“We have built our own booking platform, next we are solving the whole thing around travel payments. Travel spend is the second largest controllable spend in any company.
“And yet most finance leaders do not think it is managed well. It’s pretty painful for all parties involved.”
TripActions Liquid has been built to automatically associate any in-trip spend with a trip so that the time and effort going into reconciliations is cut down dramatically.
“People can spend hours every month playing a game of match between what was booked on credit card and what trip it was associated with,” said Sindicich.
The physical card also gives travel managers real-time insight into travel spending, increasing compliance with corporate travel policy and control on expenditure.
Sindicich said current systems expect staff to front-up spend on their own personal credit cards because finance managers are often concerned about giving out too many corporate cards.
“It’s pretty awkward,” added Sindicich. “Sometime staff are given corporate cards, but it’s because reconciling can be super-manual and because of that it takes months to be reimbursed.
“This means controlling spend is extremely difficult for finance teams because they lack visibility.
“We are delivering real-time visibility. In other systems it might takes weeks but now we are adding all travel payments into the platform and we are also automating reconciliation.
“We ensure real-time control because finance teams can set really robust and accurate policies and, most importantly for the traveller, it provides a better experience.”
TripActions claims Liquid is an industry first because, along with its booking platform, it “owns” the entire trip experience.
The payments tech means travel managers can turn on and off cards so they can only be used during the trip, it can integrate with digital diaries to verify attendees and per day spend limits can be set.
In addition, a partnership with AppZen, an artificial intelligence tool for finance teams, powers real-time spend approvals.
TripActions Liquid has been in test with a number of clients ahead of the official launch today.
Vik Shah, corporate controller at Zoom, said: “I wasn’t surprised when TripActions came to me with a solution
“What impressed me, though, was how effective it is. TripActions Liquid is a major time saver. We’ve been able to reduce travel payment reconciliation time from weeks to minutes each month.”
Samantha DeRosa, senior accounting manager at Toast, said: “TripActions is the only complete, end-to-end corporate travel management solution for finance teams and travel managers, combining the best online booking tool, travel management company and travel payments solution into a single platform.
“It’s a no-brainer to use TripActions Liquid with the TripActions corporate travel platform. It’s booking and payments integrated seamlessly to make travel spend management a breeze.”
Cohen added: “Organisations have sacrificed for too long with inferior corporate travel management platforms — from clunky booking tools to poor service, out-of-control costs and complicated travel payments processes.
“Through our customers’ success, we’ve demonstrated that our state-of-the-art technology paired with our best-in-class travel agency service is the only choice in corporate travel management.
“That’s because TripActions is proven to deliver a great experience for business travellers while empowering their organisations to control costs and save money.
“Now, as part of our commitment to our users to improve their end-to-end travel experience, we’re revolutionising travel payments to help enterprises further delight their employees while optimising travel processes and spend.”