Companies wishing to retain corporate customers have to make life simpler for business travellers, travel planners and travel managers, particularly when it comes to payment and invoicing. Paperless Travel from HRS makes checking out more convenient and optimises processes for these customers. Not only that: it benefits hosts too.
text: Astrid Schwamberger
According to a headline published at the end of last year, Munich has more hotel beds than Manhattan. Although the metropolis has slightly fewer inhabitants than the New York borough, it has nosed ahead in terms of hotel bed numbers. The area around the central station, in particular, stands out: the quarter has the highest density of hotels in Europe, so there's no lack of competition.
Even the Hotel Drei Löwen vies for custom in this hub, and the majority of this custom comes from business travellers. Built in 1924 and renovated in 2016, the four-star hotel now offers 94 rooms in different categories, as well as event space for up to 100 participants, a restaurant and a bar. In addition to its modern features, the historic hotel tries to set itself apart from the competition with its unique service: corporate clients who have booked through HRS can check out quickly and conveniently and don't have to pay in advance.
This is made possible by "Paperless Travel", a payment solution from HRS that reduces check-out to a minimum. "The only thing our guests have to do is hand in their keys," summarises reservations manager Ayla Sahin. They don't even have to wait for the invoice printout, because paperless means: no more paperwork!
Meanwhile, Sahin can settle the account with a virtual credit card, which is generated during booking and given access to the employer's central travel card. The relevant credit card number is then faxed to Sahin, along with the booking information, and appears on her booking screen on the HRS service portal.
To debit the invoice amount on departure, she has to enter the number into the credit card terminal during check-in; at the end she sends the invoice to HRS online. There, all the invoices are collected, reviewed and then, having been processed, sent to the respective corporate client.
This flexibility isn't the only advantage that has piqued the reservations manager's enthusiasm: Paperless Travel also gives her time-savings of 20–30 percent, says Sahin, singing its praises. This is partly because the automatic transfer of invoice data allows fewer errors to creep in, which take time to correct afterwards. This gives her more freedom at reception, which in turn benefits everybody: "We can focus on what's important and, for example, spend more time with guests who want more attention."
Paperless Travel also offers the hotel benefits in terms of bookkeeping as the invoice amount is not only settled directly, but, more importantly, immediately, "We're sure of our money, so that's one more thing I don't have to worry about." Therefore, outstanding items are as much a thing of the past as reminders. Sahin: "We don't even get to that point."
Payment by virtual credit card doesn't just make hotel operators and business travellers happy. Travel planners and travel managers, who pull the strings from behind the scenes and often make sure that their travellers book into specific hotels, get something out of it too. For one thing, they can set a limit for each booking and the services that can be invoiced for it. For another, collective invoices make accounting travel expenses easier. When hotel stays are paid for through Paperless Travel, they no longer have to track down different invoices, check each one individually and initiate payments – all of that has already been done. Experts such as Birgit Hölzel, Director Country Management Germany at AirPlus International, call this "process optimisation". According to the credit card expert, "Nowadays, it's essential for businesses to keep track of their sales." Virtual credit cards are therefore becoming increasingly popular with corporate clients. Hotels that accept this payment solution can thereby offer their clientèle "a major plus in terms of service" and "make a significant contribution to meeting companies' need for modern travel management."