Beginning a life after quarantine with Concierge Travel, pay with Venmo, and more

David Barrett
David Barrett Expensify Team Posts: 40 Expensify Team
edited July 2020 in Expensify news

2020 has been a daunting year so far, but thankfully we’re starting to see a (flickering) light at the end of the tunnel.  We’ve been hard at work trying to help establish a “new normal” in this post-quarantine (but still very COVID-wary) world, and I’m happy to share some early results:

1) Reimburse your receipts with Expensify+Venmo!  If you are in the US, you probably know Venmo and use it to settle small debts with friends, family, and the occasional stranger.  However, one thing we’ve heard again and again from users is they wish they could digitally include the receipts for what they are asking to get reimbursed for, especially in a COVID-19 world where every paper receipt is one more way to spread germs. Well now you can! Just add your phone number as a secondary login to Expensify (so we can find your Venmo account), then submit your receipts to any phone number (or email address), and we’ll get you paid back via Venmo.  I know we’re primarily known for business reimbursements, but did you know we have millions of users who use Expensify for personal reasons that have nothing to do with work? Give it a shot!

2) Speaking of phone numbers, Phone support is here (in beta)!  2020 is the year Expensify doubles down on world-class support, and by popular demand we’re adding a “Call me!” button attached to each setup task in your Inbox that will queue a call with our team to help you with your configuration.  This is a new feature that we are gradually rolling out, starting first with Expensify Card holders who have a phone number linked to their account (and expanding to everyone else as fast as we can).  So in addition to gaining Venmo support and serving as a safe way to recover your account if you lose access to your email address, add a phone number to be first in line to speak with our team!

3) Concierge just keeps getting faster, with the best yet to come!  Even though our support volume has remained completely constant throughout this whole COVID-19 crisis, now we’re responding to over 64% of chats in under two minutes -- a 50x improvement!  With the human side of Concierge showing such great improvement, we’ve turned our attention to the technical side.  As background, we’ve used a system called Intercom to power our Concierge chat for years.  However, it isn’t really designed to work well with our AI-augmented Concierge service, which meant it was adding 2-4 minutes to every support interaction.  So for the past several months we’ve been quietly creating our own native chat solution that provides truly instant conversations with Concierge, and I’m proud to announce it’s here!  We’re rolling it out slowly to iron out all the kinks, but keep an eye out for a superfast Concierge experience on web and mobile soon.

4) You might be asking “Why is David so obsessed with Concierge speed?”  Great support is obviously the most important reason, but also because the plan for Concierge is to do a lot more than just support -- and some of those future features require a reliably fast response, 24/7.  With that in mind, let me proudly announce Concierge’s latest skill: Now you can ask Concierge to book travel on your Expensify Card, for free!  No booking fees, no hidden fees: this is a 100% free perk of the Expensify Card.

More on this feature is here, but to reiterate one particular point: there’s no cumbersome UI to mess with either, it’s all chat-based, agent-based booking.  This is the most premium form of booking offered in the industry, typically costing about $25/booking elsewhere, but we’re offering it for free to Expensify cardholders.  Just tell Concierge where you need to be and when you need to be there, and we’ll take care of the rest.  Our guiding principle was simple: how does Elon Musk book travel?  Does he screw around with a huge list of nearly identical options on his phone?  Probably not.  I think he asks a trusted assistant, who just knows what he wants and figures it out.  So that’s how Concierge works, and we call this “intention based travel booking” -- rather than fully specifying “Book me a flight before noon from PDX to SFO, returning after 7pm”, say “I have a meeting at 88 Kearny St in San Francisco at 4pm”.  Based on your intent, Concierge will make a bunch of reasonable assumptions, factor in driving distances when you get there to create a safe buffer, weigh the options based on your company’s travel policy, and remember your preferences to aim to book the perfect trip every time, without hassling you with the details.  And just like Elon probably flies private, when it makes sense Concierge will offer you a private jet option, just in case.

5) Now, it might seem an odd time to launch a travel service, given that most people aren’t travelling right now.  But for those who must travel, it’s never been scarier, more complicated, or less convenient.  Accordingly, we reached out to our friends at Global Rescue, and came up with the following:

Every trip booked with Concierge Travel gets free Global Rescue services, both domestic and international!

Not familiar with Global Rescue?  They’re the folks who save people off of Mt. Everest; they have a fleet of helivacs scattered around the world ready to (literally) pull you out of a sweltering jungle or burning wildfire.  They have vetted every hospital in the world according to Mayo Clinic standards, and have translators standing by such that if you need to get medicine in some far flung region of the world, you just hand the phone to the pharmacist and they’ll explain what you need in the local language.  Or if it’s severe enough, they’ll send someone to treat you in your hotel room, or escort you to the right hospital, or even medivacuate you home via private jet.  They’re basically the coolest people in the world, with the most incredible staff of ex-SEALs and Army field surgeons you’ve ever met.

Granted, it’s unlikely you are doing business in Afghanistan or Antarctica right now.  But their 24/7 phone support, complete with Zoom telemedicine (back before it was cool), works domestically as well -- and they have the most up-to-date map of COVID-19 affected regions you’ve ever seen, down to the city.  Booking with Concierge Travel means you get access not just to their doctors, but you also gain an exceptional duty of care system to keep track of precisely where all your employees are at, what the latest quarantine status is there -- with tools to contact (and extract) them no matter how bad things get.

6) Lastly, we wanted to do something to brighten the mood in these dark days.  So we’re happy to announce “Swipe to Win!”  It’s as simple as this: Every swipe of the Expensify Card is a chance to win!  The initial idea was “a vacation in Hawaii”, “box seats at the Lakers game”, or “dinner for two at the French Laundry!”  But those don’t really seem as appealing right now (or even possible), so we’re adapting it to the days: every prize is a chance to do something fun for someone you can’t be with right now, or someone working hard on the front lines keeping us all safe.  Want to learn more?  Swipe that Expensify Card to roll the dice!

That’s all for now, but we’re working around the clock to bring you more.  Stay safe out there (or ideally, in your homes) and we’ll all get through this together.


Founder and CEO of Expensify

PS: Thank you all Expensify Cardholders, companies that have enabled Corporate Karma, and individuals who have enabled Personal Karma.  With your support has helped thousands of SNAP-assistance families weather this COVID-19 crisis easier with extra food assistance.  Oh, and it’s official -- is now a registered charity with tax-exempt status from the IRS!  So with much fanfare, let me share this very dull disclaimer for the first time: is exempt by the IRS from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3). Donations made to may therefore qualify for the charitable contribution deduction under IRC Section 170, subject to your personal tax situation.

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