Lola, the Boston travel startup led by Kayak co-founder Paul English, has added an additional element to its mission to serve business travelers with the launch of Lola Works, a desktop application that’s meant to help managers plan, track and organize business trips for employees.
In October, English presented Lola as the “ultimate” app for business travelers, unveiling its personalized search engine for hotel and flight booking and its messaging interface that lets users receive live assistance. Thanks to Lola, employees could directly book their business travels and, therefore, accrue reward points from hotels and airlines.
The company wanted to be able to add manager’s parameters for business travel, and here is where Lola Works comes into the picture. A cloud-based app, Lola Works is essentially a dashboard where managers can set up their guidelines for upcoming business trips (including the company’s budget for flight tickets and hotel rooms), invite employees to book their travel and then track the status of trips in progress.
The Lola app and Lola Works are designed to work together as an integrated system, so employees who receive an invite via Lola Works should use the Lola app to book their trip.
Lola Works is composed of four main sections, as Paul English discussed in a recent demo with BostInno. In “Dashboard,” managers get the complete picture of who’s traveling, where he or she is going and how long will the trip last. English specified that Lola Works allows users to manage an unlimited number of travelers.
The next section is “Places,” where managers can set up locations where employees frequently travel to – for example, the locations of all the offices of their company. After adding a city, managers can also add the company’s preferred hotels.
In “Guidelines,” managers are expected to set up their maximum budget for hotel rooms and flight tickets in two different tabs, respectively “Hotels” and “Flights.” In this section, Lola Works includes a feature that allows managers to compare the cost of hotels in different cities, so to determine the price for each level of hotel comfort adjusted to each city’s rates. During the demo, Lola Works showed that to get a room of comparable level of comfort, guests should pay an average of $250 in Los Angeles and $360 in Boston.
What managers determine as the budget cap for each expense is sync with the Lola app, which means that the app let employees know what’s covered in the company’s budget at the moment of booking. If a price exceeds the budget, employees see listings marked with a pink symbol (for hotels) or the blue word “expensive” (for flights).
Lastly, the “Reporting” section is where managers see who has booked an upcoming trip and when.
In addition to Lola Works, the company is adding a “Teams” feature to the Lola app, which allows employees to engage by sharing their favorite hotel and restaurant recommendations. If employees are planning a business trip to, say, London, they should look into the teams tab and check if anyone else in their company has recently visited.