Too much time, too many details
At first Validant didn't have anyone dedicated to tackle travel planning. They often needed to plan travel for internal consultants as well as contractors, which could easily turn into a logistical nightmare. Different expectations, different billing structures and regional requirements made it all more complicated.
Their policy was that contractors would pay for their hotel and be reimbursed, but that wasn't practical for contractors in the EU. Directly contacting the hotel for reconciling, statements, and billing was an inefficient struggle.
And as they increased travel to new, unfamiliar countries for client visits, conferences and business development, they needed flexibility and more variety in their travel solutions.
Everything under one platform
Validant has now been working with Corporate Traveler for more than 7 years, but at the beginning managing the relationship wasn’t part of anyone’s role at the company. Responsibility for travel management bounced around between different people and departments, including the CFO, and the relationship with Corporate Traveler wasn’t fully formed.
What changed? Well, Patrice Mistretta joined Validant in April 2019 as the Business Operations Manager. But it wasn’t until 2021 when she took over travel management and began working with the team on a weekly basis, managing reporting, policies and other factors.
"The transparency and the communication from the Corporate Traveler side really are key. That's what gets us over hurdles – ensuring we communicate with each other." - Patrice Mistretta, Business Operations Manager @ Validant
Since Patrice began championing the relationship, they’ve been able to take full advantage of more of the services that Corporate Traveler offers and enhance their travel program. Adding new tools like Melon has made a world of difference.
The Melon platform allows Validant to set up different types of use (validating, internal use and external booking) that cover their travel processes and complex policies. With this tool, Patrice and her CFO can breathe a sigh of relief!
The dream team
“The people that I work with closest at Corporate Traveler are Natalie and Sarah, as well as some other folks that I've spoken with. There's that professional relationship, but there's also, you know, a sense of a friendship there.” Patrice Mistretta, Business Operations Manager @ Validant
Patrice sings praises of her Corporate Traveler team, Customer Success Manager Natalie Koenig, and Dedicated Travel Consultant, Sarah. It's a blend of professionalism and camaraderie that keeps the wheels turning smoothly. "Whenever anything ever comes up, if there's a change in an airline policy or external things that may impact me, Natalie and Sarah just continuously keep me in the loop. I think that really is what keeps our relationship working so well," she reflects.
She applauds the team's responsiveness, even in off-hours, providing peace of mind in unpredictable times. Natalie's straightforward communication, from policy updates to who's covering during PTO, underscores the trust and efficiency of their partnership.
Turning the tide on travel management
"I truly do not have to worry about managing travel, right? It is fully a team effort. And when I say team, I mean me, Sarah, my team, Sarah's team, Natalie's team. It's a team effort." Patrice Mistretta, Business Operations Manager @ Validant
Since Validant started using Melon, they’ve found new alternatives or solutions even when internal or external changes happened. Natalie suggested Conferma Pay instead of using a complicated collection of company credit cards for booking and billing.
This changed the game for Validant. Hotels make up a huge part of Validant’s travel program with anywhere from 30 to 60 travelers checking in and out of hotels monthly. Accommodations account for 41% of Validant’s total travel costs and having an efficient way to reconcile reservations to billback their customers is very important. Conferma Pay has allowed their finance team to stay on top of reconciliation and has provided full visibility into their hotel stays.
And now, after working together for more than a year, Patrice is thrilled with the around-the-clock support from Corporate Traveler. "I truly do not have to worry about managing travel. I'm confident in that team assisting. The biggest benefit is that if it's a Saturday, if someone says, ‘Hey, my flight's delayed, and I missed my connection,’ I know exactly where they need to go,” she says.