Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

Capita Travel and Events

Capita Travel and Events, Winner, Best Card Solution

Joy Knapp, Capita Travel and Events and Paul Markey, RBS

As a stand-alone product, this bespoke card solution and the sophisticated technology used, are enough to justify why it should win an award. But this is even more impressive when you consider the time frame in which the solution was implemented. Design, implementation and integration of a system of this scale, would normally take six months; but through the efficiency and skill of both parties, this groundbreaking solution was delivered within just four months.

Photo of Joy Knapp, Capita Travel and Events and Paul Markey, RBS.

Joy Knapp

Head of Finance Operations

Capita Travel and Events is the UK’s leading specialist travel and event management company, managing over £560m of customer spend with a team of travel and event professionals.

in partnership with

The challenge:

The Capita Travel and Events Finance Operations team had to manage a huge number of transactions, around 7-10,000 per month all of which were manually checked and identified. “The process for identifying a single transaction and matching it was complex, time-consuming, and with a potential for inaccuracy” says Joy Knapp, Head of Finance Operations at Capita Travel and Events. Moreover, it was a process, which was going to become ever more complex, in volume of transactions and processes, due to the company’s acquisitions of business travel firm Expotel, and venue finding and events agency, Venues Event Management.

A solution was therefore needed that could satisfy the following requirements:

  • Requests to be sent and Virtual Card Numbers (VCNs) provided back to the Capita Travel and Events’ system in real-time.

  • Single use unique identification codes to create specific transactions.

  • Identify and match specific transactions quickly, efficiently and accurately.

  • Provide a data-rich information hub to help better qualify and authorise transactions.

  • Integrate seamlessly with the existing booking system to avoid additional time and effort of the customer-facing teams.

  • Be stable and efficient enough to accommodate the increased volumes expected from the business integration.

The solution:

Following a workshop conducted at Capita Travel and Events, RBS proposed a bespoke solution using their Approval2Buy web-based technology. By integrating the RBS platform into its own technology, Capita Travel and Events has been able to reconcile huge volumes of single-card transactions from hotels spread across the UK and Europe in a fraction of the time it had taken previously.

The system delivered the level of information Capita Travel and Events required, adding unique card numbers, which are identifiable on single transactions. The in-house matching tool developed around this system by Capita Travel and Events IT team further improved this process, delivering results quickly and without the level of error, in which manual checking could potentially result. “Using the solution from RBS as a platform, we have developed and further improved our own systems to accommodate and adapt to the nature of our growing business,” says Joy Knapp.

Whilst this solution was being implemented, at no point was the timing, quality or booking process of either the customer or frontline team impacted by the re-engineering. The functionality was integrated into the existing booking process, adding no time delay to the normal tasks undertaken by Capita Travel and Events’ customer-facing employees.

Best practice and innovation:

Forming a hybrid IT project team, the partners worked together to produce a virtual one-use card payment system that would deliver benefits to the business, alleviating pressure on the already stretched team and most importantly, not adding to the booking process. Acceptance of the system has now reached 100% throughout the UK network and an estimated 70-80% throughout Europe.

Projects of this nature, scope and scale would normally take six months to design, implement and integrate in full. However, through the efficiency and skill of both parties involved, this ground-breaking solution was delivered in just four months. Joy Knapp concludes: “With so many time, quality and efficiency benefits delivered, and yet no additional time needed in the frontline booking process, this system has delivered a remarkable win/win for Capita Travel and Events and our customers.”

Key benefits:

  • Risk removed/mitigated.

  • Improvements in days payable outstanding (DPO).

  • Improvements in days sales outstanding (DSO).

  • Process efficiencies.

  • Productivity gains – transactions are now processed and invoiced at a 47% improvement rate on timeframes and turn-around experienced before the transformation.

  • Time taken to implement solution and realise benefits – the system was designed, built, piloted and tested from February 2014 and introduced in June 2014.

  • ROI – 3:1.

  • Cost savings – growth was managed meaning massive cost savings (est. £126k).