TravelBank CEO: ‘Strategic Conversations Are Very Difficult’

TravelBank is doubling down on expense management, which CEO and co-founder Duke Chung called “the only software you can justify purchasing at this time.”

During a Wednesday phone interview, Chung described the company’s new Work From Home expense offering, which includes related policy and communications templates, expense codes and marketplace merchants

He also addressed the company’s new revenue strategy. TravelBank was offering expense and travel for free, banking on supplier commissions. Now it’s charging new customers per-user monthly subscription fees for travel ($10), expense ($5) and both together ($12).

“Pricing was something we wanted to work on in 2020,” said Chung. “We have had a goal over time to move TravelBank into more of a subscription pricing model whereas travel [generally] has been a transaction-oriented business. We [decided to] have it as part of this Work From Home launch. It makes sense with expenses. Travel is not top of mind for many companies right now.”

He said TravelBank would work with existing clients on temporarily extending the original pricing structure.

Asked what’s on the table for the company’s future, Chung referenced an undisclosed number of headcount reductions and said, “We had to make some adjustments. We want to make sure we can survive for 12 months plus, and ideally closer to 18 months. Who knows? We’re all watching the same news. Now it’s about surviving. Strategic conversations are very difficult. Those happen when you are in a position of strength. It’s hard right now. People you might want to partner with have other priorities.

“None of the companies we compete with have travel and expense, except Concur,” he said. “We think there’s tremendous opportunity there and want to build a strong franchise around our expense business. In a recession, expense becomes the top product companies want to use.”

Chung noted that Expensify launched in the midst of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008.


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Jay Campbell

Author: Jay Campbell

Jay Campbell in 2004 created travel business newsletter The Beat, in 2006 co-founded Travel Procurement magazine and in 2010 integrated them with Business Travel News. He served as editorial director until 2013. Jay made his travel industry media debut in 1993 at the Air Travel Journal of Boston while earning his undergraduate degree in journalism at Boston University.
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