Expensify Launches Trips Feature for Travel Expense Tracking

Today expense tracking company Expensify is releasing a new itinerary tracking service, called Trips, which allows users to view and manage an itinerary while they’re on the road, and feeds expenditures into an expense report so employees can get reimbursed for travel expenses. Founder and CEO David Barrett calls the feature “TripIt without the ads and clutter, built into your expense report.” The company, which has almost one million users and has raised $6.7 million in funding since its launch in 2008, is also updating its mobile apps for Android, Windows Phone, iOS and BlackBerry today to reflect the new feature.

Last year the company launched a SmartScan feature, which pulls expense data off of receipt images and matches it to credit card transactions. Since a lot of the receipts are travel reservations, they realized that pulling itinerary info and displaying it on their mobile apps wouldn’t be that much more difficult. “We realized as we were building this receipt scanning system that we already had a system that can scan information off receipts, so why don’t we expand that to scan full itinerary information, and then we have the basis for a whole trip management system,” Barrett said in an interview.

With the addition of the Trips feature, users book travel online as they normally would, and forward the confirmation email to receipts@expensify.com. The details are populated in the Trips screen in the Expensify app, credit card travel expenses are automatically imported, and hard copy receipts can be scanned using the SmartScan feature.

While integrating with TripIt would have made sense, it was out of the cards after the company was acquired by Expensify competitor Concur in January 2011 for $120 million. Barrett said that while TripIt has a more established brand, and functionality that goes beyond just expense tracking, it’s become “bloated” with features and advertisements. “TripIt does a lot more than we do,” he said. “We just do the core value of trip tracking for a business traveler.” He also said Expensify’s Trips feature is integrated into their core expense tracking product, rather than being a separate product. “TripIt was acquired by Concur, but it wasn’t built by Concur. It’s not built into the Concur product, it’s a whole separate thing,” he said.

As for why Expensify stands out from the competition, Barrett said it’s because while competitors focus on a top-down user acquisition strategy which involves company decision-makers purchasing and mandating expensing solutions, Expensify lets users sign up without permission from their company, and then those employees sell the product up the company ranks. “Every time you submit an expense report you introduce us to someone more important than you, like your boss or your finance department,” Barrett said. “We hope you talk to your boss eventually, but we don’t require it.”

The new Trips feature doesn’t come at an additional cost for users. Expensify is free for individuals, and $5 per submitter per month for companies (Concur doesn’t offer a free version, with its small business plan priced at $8 per user per month). The SmartScan receipt scanning feature is free for up to 10 receipts per month, and $0.20 per receipt over 10. The company has processed over $1 billion in expenses to date, and over 600,000 expense reports, and is used by companies including Square and Uber.

While Expensify may have a bottom-up expense tracking solution and the new in-house trip management tool, competitors already offer expense tracking and trip planning together. Barrett’s focus on keeping it simple (he said after they add another core feature later this year they’ll focus solely on “polishing up” the service), and on SMB customers specifically, means that they’ll likely continue to grow within that market.

 

 

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.

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