Renae Bathke was busy enough as the senior accounting manager for Edina, Minn. – based ARKRAY USA before being faced with managing a corporate travel program during a global pandemic, but thanks to the resources developed by Acendas Travel, her challenges during this most unusual time have been lessened.
“I manage our travel & expense program, but to tell you the truth, with Acendas (Travel) supporting us, I’ve never had to worry about much on the travel side of things,” Bathke said. “We’ve been with them for such a long time and I can’t say enough about the service they provide.”
ARKRAY USA is a medical device company, manufacturing and distributing diabetes management and clinical diagnostic instruments throughout the U.S., with a significant amount of corporate travel by the sales team, administrative staff and field service engineers. While travel slowed down significantly due to the pandemic, the service engineers still needed to be out on the road to repair instruments.
“We had to deal with a few issues,” Bathke said. “First, we had more than 80 unused tickets totaling $32K that suddenly we had to account for. Second, we still had to get our service engineers out to do their work in a safe manner.”
The issue of unused tickets was not unique to ARKRAY USA. Prior to the pandemic, Acendas Travel would generally process 30-40 new, unused tickets added to the normal daily ticket management. Those new unused tickets totaled approximately $25,000 in combined airfare. During the month of March 2020, Acendas was adding up to 600 new, unused tickets every day, at an average of nearly $300,000 per day for those tickets. At peak during the pandemic, the total volume for unused tickets was 15,000 tickets with a collective value of nearly $8 million.
Companies were nervous about the potential financial hit and the prospect of reassigning tickets was daunting. Thanks to some quick work by the Acendas technology team, a solution (known as Acendas All Access) was developed within days of the announcement.
“Acendas Travel’s ability to develop the technology to manage unused tickets during the pandemic so quickly was a huge help to us,” Bathke said. “They created a platform to easily track all our tickets and saved us money by assisting us in utilizing the ticket credits before they expired.”
Bathke says it was the creation of technology resources, plus the clear, continuous and proactive communications from the Acendas Travel team that significantly lowered her concerns. A comprehensive, online clearinghouse of information such as airline contact information, travel protocols, quarantine and destination restrictions, hotel closures and more were available with the click of a mouse. Additionally, Acendas Travel staff conducted monthly zoom meetings for clients to share the latest travel information and answer any questions that would arise.
“It has been very reassuring to have Acendas behind us,” Bathke said. “This is all new to everyone, but Acendas jumped on it and made the technology intuitive and easy to use. And there has always been a steady stream of communication to update us on the latest COVID related changes in the travel industry.”
Said Acendas Travel Vice President Terri Barton, the challenges for businesses and travel management companies such as Acendas are not only in the present, but in the long-term as well.
“Travel has changed and will continue to change in the future,” Barton said. “Much of what has been done has obviously been by necessity. But coming out of this, the new processes will ultimately result in a better travel experience. As a travel management company, our job remains to develop programs that deliver value. And that means providing duty of care resources, minimizing travel disruption, utilizing the technology that creates efficiencies and saves money for clients, and being that consultative resource in developing a program that best meets their changing needs.”