More than perhaps any other event in modern history, the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the way business travel is conducted. As we enter this new era, organizations have increasingly begun to consider new and innovative solutions, acknowledging their obligation to protect their employees and travel safely.
In a time where social distancing and proper hygiene are critical to health, recent surveys indicate travelers are increasingly wanting a contactless experience. If any of us have ventured into a store over the course of the past few months, we have noticed the signs “not currently accepting cash payments,” as everyone tries to eliminate a potentially hazardous handoff. Airports are also increasing their technology and opportunity to go “touchless” by enhancing the kiosk check-in experience using biometric technology and a safer bag drop process.
There has been an increased focus on the air travel portion of the traveler journey, with the question on many peoples’ minds being, “How can I be safe en route to my destination?” But it’s also important for travelers and travel managers to think through the entire journey, beyond air travel. What happens after your traveler has made it through the airport? How can we continue this touchless experience beyond the first few steps?
The good news is that a touchless experience is closer than you might think. Virtual payment technology has been around for several years. The use of virtual credit cards has gained traction and, considering its touchless nature, many more organizations may consider incorporating virtual payment technology into their travel programs.
Virtual cards remove the physical card from the process; by eliminating the need to touch a card reader, enter pin numbers or sign forms, you can take one more step to protecting your travelers en route. An added value is that virtual payments allow for automatic reconciliation of expenses and consolidation of trip spend data.
What are the benefits of using virtual cards?
- Instant visibility to transaction activity and automated reconciliation of travel expenses.
- No need to issue/manage physical corporate cards.
- More control over employee spend.
- End manual processes such as completion of third-party authorization forms.
- Bring non-employee, recruit and infrequent travelers into the managed travel program.
How does it work?
Fox clients and their travelers have access to a seamless virtual card experience though our partnership with global payment technology company Conferma Pay. Each virtual card deployed has its own 16-digit card number and is loaded with a predetermined dollar value for use by a single traveler, for a single transaction, for a single trip. Travelers simply book their hotel reservation through an agent or via the online booking tool, and Fox’s system automatically takes care of the request for card usage and sends the card details to the hotel.
Because each transaction generates a unique card number for a one-to-one payment, once a transaction is complete the account number is inactive for new charges. So beyond providing a touchless experience, virtual payments provide greater flexibility and control over traveler spend, which will for many be under increased scrutiny as organizations return to travel.
Many corporate travel managers have opted to include a virtual credit card solution as a part of their strategy to get travelers back on the road. If you’re thinking about bringing virtual payments to your organization’s program as well, get in touch with Fox and we’ll help you make it happen.
By: Mitch Nesbitt, Fox Client Solutions and Implementation Specialist
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