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Book, pay, save

Integrated payment solution

The auditors at the German tax and auditing firm BDO were dissatisfied with their booking process. The choice was too limited, billing too complex and travel management had to clarify too many traveller questions. An integrated booking and payment system offered by HRS and AirPlus provided a solution.

BDO AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft with headquarters in Hamburg is one of the leading companies for auditing, tax consultancy, commercial legal consultancy and advisory services. Most of the 1900 employees travel a lot, predominantly within Germany, either to visit customers or to one of the company's 25 other sites. Overnight hotel stays are the order of the day, so an efficient hotel programme plays a big part.

However, BDO was not entirely satisfied with its existing solution. The choice of accommodation on offer to travellers was always too limited. On top of this, the user-friendliness of the booking tool left a great deal to be desired, travel management had to clarify too many queries and provide training. And last but not least, the company wanted to benefit more from special rates for business travellers.

By September 2015, it was time for a change. Together with the partner AirPlus as billing provider, the HRS platform was implemented, together with the “Central Billing” payment solution. With the joint product from HRS and AirPlus, hotel bookings are directly invoiced to the main corporate credit card, saving employees and accounting the time-consuming task of processing expenses for hotel stays. According to a study by the Global Business Travel Association, each manual invoicing process takes employees an average of 20 minutes.

The system operates as follows: a virtual Mastercard number is generated for each booking and is used to settle the bill, with no action required on the part of the traveller. The BDO finance department receives hotel invoices regularly from HRS, grouped together and in digital format. As a result, “Central Billing” reduces the number of creditors and simplifies the booking process.

Fast adaptation, great result
One year after putting this measure into action, BDO reviewed the results. The intuitive tool was rapidly accepted by employees: in this time frame, the adoption rate has risen from zero to fifty percent. Today, half of all hotel bookings are made via HRS, which has noticeably relieved the workload of travel managers. “Not only are employees now able to choose the right accommodation from a wider range of hotels,” explains BDO travel management, “but the solution has also done away with time-consuming admin tasks and, thanks to the intuitive tool, training is no longer required.”

The BDO management has also calculated the direct financial savings as a result of lower hotel rates. Employees simply making greater use of the HRS Business Tariff has resulted in a saving of EUR 10,500 in the first year alone. On top of this, there are also the indirect savings made as a result of less payment and billing work.

BDO realised early on that the traditional way of processing travel expenses manually on paper was too time-consuming and particularly prone to errors. Consequently, the company had made the switch to digital payment solutions a long time ago. The new processes in the hotel sector are the ideal way to complete this system.

Payment data assists negotiations
And finally, the integrated solution offers another sweet surprise: the AirPlus billing data not only shows accommodation costs as a total sum, it also lists detailed expenditure for additional services, including breakfast, parking and other extras. This provides BDO travel management with valuable information for future negotiations with hotel partners. This means that extras that are used frequently can be factored into rate negotiations and those that are unnecessary can be removed. 

About BDO

BDO AG is the fifth largest auditing company in Germany. It employs around 1900 employees at 26 sites nationwide. BDO has international links as a founding member of the BDO International network of auditing and consulting companies, with members in over 158 countries worldwide, ranging from Canada to Russia and China. Internationally, BDO generates an annual turnover of nearly seven billion euros. BDO's employees include not just accountants and tax and business consultants, but also insurance experts, lawyers, engineers, environmental auditors and countless other specialists, who take care of clients with the industry expertise required.