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04/15/2021

HRS Acquires Itelya

Itelya’s invoice collection and data management capabilities simplify an array of downstream functions, including payment to suppliers and VAT reclaim for corporations.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
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HRS, a corporate lodging platform, is transforming the financial cycle governing corporate hospitality. In an age of digital transformation and comprehensive data visibility, managed travel has largely lagged behind. With the goal of helping companies fully capture and control lodging costs from all segments – including transient, meetings and groups, and extended stay – HRS has built a unique ecosystem that enables global payment, invisible and audited invoice management, and automated VAT reclaim for global programs.

HRS’ acquisition of Itelya, a travel invoice management services provider, emphasizes HRS’ standing as a traveler-centric lodging leader and a true financial technology provider. Itelya’s services are used in more than 180 countries. Itelya’s invoice collection and data management capabilities simplify an array of downstream functions, including payment to suppliers and VAT reclaim for corporations.

HRS’ newly-founded Travel FinTech consists of more than 100 team members, collaborating to build the next generation Pay2Reimburse ecosystem. This end-to-end solution is plug & play ready, connecting seamlessly with all leading ecosystem providers, including credit card merchants, expense tool providers and VAT reclaim services.

“Itelya’s decade-long expertise in global invoice management enables us to scale much faster to serve our global client base. We’re excited that their existing management team, along with all their highly-talented colleagues, are joining the HRS Group,” said HRS CEO Tobias Ragge. “Itelya is a centerpiece to the ecosystem we are building out. Our Lodging as a Service platform is comprehensive and unmatched, offering corporations a superior option as they recalibrate for the resumption of business travel. The fact that we own all of our technology solutions and associated data models gives us a unique capability to innovate faster and create the highest value for our customers.”

Complete Procure2Reimburse Ecosystem Creates Unique Data Insights

For a Better Customer Experience

HRS’ Lodging as a Service platform includes:

  • A procurement360 platform enabling best-in-class benchmarking regarding rates, safety, security and sustainability scorings of all lodging suppliers globally,
  • A one-stop shop for booking corporate hotels – incorporating transient, meetings and groups, and extended stay – including AI-powered rate filtering to eliminate incorrect rates, fully automated rebooking and a personalized recommendation engine to maximize traveler satisfaction, and
  • The Pay2Reimburse plug & play solution, working within the entire ecosystem consisting of credit card merchants, expense tool providers and VAT reclaim services. The payment solution captures level-3 invoice data of any lodging supplier globally, performing compliance checks and generating data insights to optimize the procurement process and booking experience.

The HRS platform is fully integrated into the leading corporate expense provider, SAP Concur, which helps reduce the burden on travelers for itemization in expense reporting. Automation introduced in recent months facilitates exponential VAT reclaim opportunities for companies that cumulatively leave millions in spend unclaimed due to data and paperwork inaccuracies.

Prominent Brands Leverage HRS Pay2Reimburse Solution Globally

The seamlessness and simplicity of HRS’ platform is widely used by trailblazing managed travel programs around the world. In Europe, companies including Airbus and Deutsche Telekom use the technology to streamline hotel payment and reduce time and effort for travelers to be reimbursed. Companies with massive operations in China, such as Alibaba and Huawei, leverage HRS’ customized solutions for the unique Chinese market to navigate a completely different payment ecosystem compared to Western market standards.

In the United States, the state of California in 2020 illustrated the capabilities and fast scalability of HRS’ platform and automated payment tools. Within four weeks of contract signing, HRS worked with state travel program leaders and other parties to support the state’s COVID-19 response by building from scratch a safe lodging procurement, booking and payment solution covering more than 2,500 preferred hotel suppliers.

This project has accommodated more than 2.5 million room nights in the last 12 months, with average savings per room night ranging from 25 to 40 percent. Payment highlights include:

  • 99 percent invoice accuracy, including level-3 data, helping speed Federal reimbursement activities,
  • 100 percent elimination of fraud via AI-powered automated auditing procedures, and
  • 100 percent cooperation from hotels participating in the program, improving their use of virtual payment processes and setting the stage for them to work with corporate hotel programs in the same manner as traditional business travel resumes.

Recognizing the creative flexibility and massive scale of this initiative, the state of California’s travel program leader was honored by Business Travel News as Travel Manager of the Year for 2020.

“The business travel industry has been traditionally focused only on improving the booking process. HRS is focused on creating a better, more seamless and sustainable customer experience. This goes way beyond the booking process, encompassing the entire Procure2Reimburse process,” said Tobias Ragge. “We are developing an integrated ecosystem approach as successfully demonstrated by technology players in other industry verticals. We have seen that our automated Pay2Reimburse approach not only drives significant direct and indirect cost savings, but also has the biggest impact on traveler satisfaction and thus adoption to the managed program. We’re facilitating invisible post-transaction processes by leveraging technology to reduce complexity that costs corporations millions every year and creates a lot of headaches with their travelers.”