This is (was) my consulting nightmare…..
For anyone in consulting (or any line of work requiring business travel), the ability to travel and earn hotel points is the number one perk of being on the road. However when I chose this profession, what I didn’t fully understand is the mayhem (and stress) that can ensue when booking travel and managing expense reports.
Over the past five years, I haven’t managed to control the weather or eliminate flight delays, but I can say (with confidence) that I have learned to minimize the travel mayhem that can be part of the consulting lifestyle. Travel rewards here I come!
Let’s paint a picture of what consultants (used to) consider their worst nightmare….
- We need to be at the client’s office by Monday morning at 11am
- Flights have to arrive by 9am
- The client requires ALL receipts for ALL expenses (the budget is tight)
- You find out about this meeting on Friday (three days in advance)
While there have been options at our disposal for getting all of the above tasks completed, they simply weren’t as effortless as they have become today. So, let’s tackle this how we would have a couple years ago (keep in mind I’m in the unenviable position of business analyst):
- Step 1: Receive frantic email from my manager telling me that we all need to be in Middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania (gorgeous this time of year), by 11am Monday morning
- Step 2: Google where that is….
- Step 3: Google Airports near Middle of Nowhere, PA
- Step 4: Google Flight options, either using airline websites or your favorite search engine (hopefully no one has strong airline allegiances)
- Step 5: Google Hotels near Middle of Nowhere, PA
- Step 6: Receive email from manager and team mandating that we stay ONLY at a specific hotel chain
- Step 7: Repeat Step Five with specific hotel chain’s name
- Step 8: Inform manager that the price of their preferred hotel is $500/night
- Step 9: Repeat Step Five, frantically recording all of the hotel chains and rates within a 50-mile radius
- Step 10: Draft an email reporting specific hotel and flight options and send to the project team to be chewed up and spit out
- Step 11: Realize that you will need a rental car to get to Middle of Nowhere, PA
- Step 12: Rinse and Repeat Google Options (don’t forget to get the pick-up/drop-off time right)
- Step 13: Search EVERYWHERE to find your Rental Car member number to make sure you get your points and discounts
- Step 14: Collect all of the emails that you received over the past hour and scramble through requests that the project team has sent you, including some emails that are just itineraries that members went ahead booked on their own…..going rogue, I see.
- Steps 15 and on….: Complete the business trip, incur multiple expenses, demand receipts from everyone on the team, call vendors to get receipts that people forgot, manually input all expense details, irrationally prepare your letter of resignation because you can’t locate a $4 receipt from Starbucks…
Well – there is good news and there is bad news. Let’s start with the bad: travel still happens last minute, and the role of business analyst still exists. Now for the good news: The tools at your disposal are ready to make your life exponentially easier…
- Step 1: Receive frantic email from manager telling me that we need to all be in Middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania (still gorgeous this time of year), by 11am Monday morning
- Step 2: Open Concur
- Step 3: Type in your desired arrival time and desired destination – Hit “search”
- Step 4: Sort on Airline & # Stop Preferences and select an option
- Step 5: Add a rental car based on preferences and rates (don’t worry, your pick-up/drop-off details are already included)
- Step 6: Add a hotel based on rates, vendors, and rates displayed
- Step 7: BOOK YOUR ENTIRE TRIP AT ONCE (with all of your loyalty programs and codes already included)
- Step 8: Send your entire itinerary to the project team so they can book with the click of a button
- Step 9: Incur your expenses, then upload receipt images/details directly (and immediately) to Concur via your mobile phone and match them with the charges on your corporate card
- Step 10: Easily import all expenses and receipts (already in Concur) into a single expense report…receive a promotion and make sure the new starry-eyed analyst on the team doesn’t ever have to go through the original 15 steps.
When facing those unavoidable, tedious tasks that come with the job of being a consultant, we can’t simply ignore them. But, we can at least attack them in a new way and spend more time on the projects that deliver value to our clients. Products such as Concur Travel & Expense are a great example of how the entire booking to expense reimbursement process can be streamlined with the help of technology. As we continue to see an increased integration between technologies, it is exciting to consider how our “day in the life” will continue to evolve.