Virtual payment cards save Cracker Barrel thousands in annual costs

The travel program team for Cracker Barrel, a U.S. restaurant and gift store chain with over 73,000 employees at 650 locations, is responsible for reconciling all travelers’ hotel charges each month. Previously manual and paper-intensive processes caused issues and delays for the travel team and the accounting and finance departments. Cracker Barrel needed a solution that would improve the reconciliation processes and restore balance in their travel program. BCD Travel integrated Virtual Payment Automation (VPA), saving Cracker Barrel $15,000 in annual costs and 40+ hours monthly on manual processing. Check out our case study below.

Cracker Barrel’s challenges: Overhead costs and overdue reports

Cracker Barrel’s manual reconciliation process caused issues including:

• Increased overhead costs for the company in the form of overtime
• Delayed reporting which forced accounting to accrue charges each month
• Stalled expense allocations to stores

The travel team spent over 40 hours per month on reconciliation work alone. The paper-intensive processes required the team to work in the office to complete tasks. And when the team identified credit card fraud, they had to rework every other booking on the compromised card. This led to hours and hours of extra work for the travel team and headaches for travelers.

BCD solves everyday issues in business travel

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Solution: Simple, secure and automated virtual payments

The team partnered with World Travel Services, a BCD company, to implement Virtual Payment Automation (VPA) for their hotel program. This service allows travelers to book hotels with a virtual card, making it simple for employees, contractors or any guest to travel on a virtual credit card automatically generated from Cracker Barrel’s financial institution. From a reconciliation perspective, the process is easier because the virtual card charges are matched to bookings automatically. Additionally, strong control features make the virtual cards an ideal defense against fraud. Payments are more secure because each transaction generates a unique card number.

Cracker Barrel’s team also adopted Virtual Payment Automation Plus (VPA+) for hotel collection, correction and digitization. VPA+ elevates VPA by allowing hotels to send invoices to BCD’s partner. The tool extracts data via optical character recognition and interprets it using artificial intelligence. VPA+ checks invoice data against tax rules and matches it to bookings. Any incorrect invoices are sent to the hotel for amendment. It is digitized by offering access to scanned invoices and visibility into hotel folio. This extra layer of support simplifies travelers’ payment and expense experience; increases travel program adoption and visibility into hotel spend; and improves accounting process efficiencies.

Results: Cracker Barrel’s reconciliation process reduced from 40 hours to two

With VPA and VPA+, Cracker Barrel now has an automated reconciliation process for their hotel program that provides visibility and control of travel spend, combats their risk of fraud, and gives travelers a straightforward way to pay for hotel expenses.

The travel team has gone from over 40 hours per month to under two hours for the entire reconciliation process, including accounting teamwork. The improvements saved Cracker Barrel US $15,000 annually. And moving to digital processes means that the team doesn’t have to be in the office to complete their reconciliation tasks.

Fraud is no longer an issue for the hotel program. Since implementing virtual cards, Cracker Barrel has experienced no credit card fraud for hotel charges.

Traveler satisfaction has also increased. By downloading the app, travelers are able to self-service their hotel confirmations if needed – meaning fewer travelers show up to hotels unable to check in.


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