A Step-by-Step Guide to Virtual Cards for Travel Managers

autopaybanner_03

The internet is littered with articles espousing the benefits of virtual cards — or Virtual Account Numbers (VANs); and the industry agrees, VANs are the future.

Now that we are all on the same page, let’s talk about making VANs a reality for your travel program. This article is a step-by-step guide in adopting VANS.

#1: Evaluate Your Travel Program Goals

#2: Understand Your Ecosystem and Available Options

#3: Choose A Virtual Card Product

#4 Operationalize VANs Across Your Enterprise

#5 Set Your KPIs and Measure Your Goals

#6 Increase Your Travel Program Efficiency & Profitability

P.S. If you are new to VANs, no worries, here are places to learn about them here and here.

Step #1: Evaluate Your Travel Program Goals

Think of VANs as a verb, a solution that executes a valuable service. As such, VANs must be adopted with purpose to drive a meaningful measurable goal. Without a specific goal, VANs can be a solution in search of a problem.

Typical travel program goals VANs help achieve:

  1. Increase supplier adoption
  2. Decrease personal card use
  3. Reduce fraudulent charges
  4. Expedite reconciliation time
  5. Earn rebates on spend

Step #2: Understand Your Ecosystem and Available Options

The phrase, “you are only as strong as your weakest link” holds true with VANs. The partners in your ecosystem – banks, travel agencies and 3rd party technology – could heavily influence how quickly and efficiently you adopt VANs.

Key things to understand about your partner ecosystem:

  1. Bank – Do they offer VANs? If so what types?
  2. Travel Agency – Can they support VANs? If so, from which providers?
  3. 3rd Party Technology – Do they integrate VANs? If so, is it seamlessly into existing workflows?

Step #3: Choose A Virtual Card Product

Now that a goal has been identified and alignment within the ecosystem has been established, it is time to choose the type of VAN to subscribe to. Depending on the banking institution, many types of VANs are available.

Common types of VANs include:

  1. Prefunded – Spend up to amount put onto card in advance
  2. Debit – Spend up to amount in debit account with overdraft features
  3. Debit with credit line – Spend up to amount in your debit account with a set credit worthiness additional fund amount
  4. Credit – Spend up to amount based on credit worthiness

Each VAN has its own benefits and features, this is for your travel program to find the right fit. Similar to applying for a consumer card, not every card type is meant for everyone.

Step #4 Operationalize VANs Across Your Enterprise

This step is the most crucial of all! Making VANs work seamlessly in day-to-day operations is the difference between a concept and a successful implementation. It is simple to issue a virtual card, it is not simple to issue one within your current workflow while improving productivity and lowering costs. With many ways to generate a VAN, you want one that drives efficiency rather than more work.

Things to consider in making VANs a reality:

  • Who is requesting the VAN? Technology Partner, Travel Agent, Traveler, Corporation
  • Where is the VAN request generated from? GDS, Portal, Website, Application
  • How is that VAN request being handled? Automatic, Manual, Mixture
  • Who is responsible for maintaining the technology? Technology Partner, Travel Agency, Corporation

Step #5 Set your KPIs and Measure Your Goals

When VANs are properly operationalized, they can be tracked and reported on. Access to proper VAN detail and essential data allows you to isolating trends and understand data. Whether through static reports or on-demand visual dashboards, understanding VAN usage is important.

Common VAN key performance indicators (KPIs) to keep track of:

  • What are the total amount of issued, authorized, settled VANs?
  • What are average amount differences in issued vs settled VANs?
  • Which months are peak issued and settled VAN amounts?
  • What is the average refunded VAN amount?
  • Which travel products are VANs being used for the most and where?

Step #6 Increase Your Travel Program Efficiency & Productivity

Now that the infrastructure to a successful VAN program has been laid, you can test and try different strategies to make it more efficient to your specific program. Being creative in motivating traveler behavior is only possible if a VAN program has sound fundamentals and the ability for customization.

Possible VAN areas to tweak and test:

  • How low can hotel VAN tolerances for incidentals become
  • How low can the ratio of VANs issued to traveler become
  • How high can airline ancillary attachment become when paid by VANs
  • How quickly can my VAN process turnover from start to finish

Ways we can help

In summary, as you look towards introducing VANs in your travel management company, the Cornerstone AutoPay solution is designed to operationalize the request and reconciliation of virtual cards. Operating on a the Cornerstone platform,  Cornerstone AutoPay is an integrated automatic payment platform facilitating VANs for corporations, travel agencies, and developers.

Cornerstone AutoPay and our suite of products service through each step of the guide:

#1: Evaluate Your Travel Program Goals

  • AutoPay reinforces travel program initiatives either directly at payment via our VAN solution or upstream with our business rules logic engine iQCX that powers AutoPay.

#2: Understand Your Ecosystem and Available Options

  • AutoPay integrates to travel agencies, GDSs, payment providers, back office systems, banks and card networks.

#3: Choose A Virtual Card Product

  • AutoPay is a MasterCard prepaid VAN product by eNett; we are in development of more types of VAN products.

#4 Operationalize VANs Across Your Enterprise

  • AutoPay seamlessly integrates into travel workflows by allowing the travel agency to automatically request and generate VANs directly from the GDS. We can also automate movement of VAN and travel data to payment or back office systems.

#5 Set your KPIs and Measure Your Goals

  • We have complement reporting, business intelligence and visualization tools to help drive insights and analytics from your VAN data.

#6 Increase Your Travel Program Efficiency & Profitability

  • Our various suite of products are fully customizable to be tailored to your specific workflow and operational needs.