Imagine if your company actually paid you to stay under budget when booking business travel. That's the idea behind TravelBank, an app for iOS and Android (and on the web) that predicts costs based on real-time pricing.
Targeted at small to medium businesses, TravelBank makes it easy to capture expenses using its "camera-first" design, which resembles Snapchat. It also has handy receipt-to-credit card pairing technology and uses advanced machine learning to help streamline submitting expenses. But it's the app's predictive technology that really sets it apart from the likes of Concur.
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TravelBank's intelligent algorithm takes into account not just the cost of airfare but also transportation, meals and parking. During a demo with TravelBank CEO Duke Chung at the Tom's Guide offices, I got a chance to play with the app, entering a trip from Newark to San Francisco. The total budget of $1,600 for a three-day trip seemed accurate.
I was more impressed with how TravelBank helps users quickly understand what options are under, at or over budget using green, yellow and red bars. Note that you can't book travel through the app, but it can help your company save money, and put more money in your pocket.
For example, a company using TravelBank might split the savings on a given trip versus the budget 50/50 with the employee, which would come in the form of points that could be used for booking future personal travel or other rewards.
TravelBank says it's already working with 100 companies that are using the app for expense reporting. And according to Chung, many users are the app are finding that they've changed travel plans based on when total trip costs are most affordable. So TravelBank can not only help you stay under budget for trips you need to take, but it can help you decide which ones should be postponed.
While I'd like to see a tool like this built into a travel booking platform as opposed to a discrete service, it could be a real time-saver and money-saver for companies and employees alike.