Tried-and-true AI models are starting to make big improvements in business travel.
According to the new Amex Trendex: Business Travel Edition*, nearly 70% of companies reported that they currently leverage traditional AI and other technologies to manage certain aspects of business travel.
Leaders from American Express and Microsoft recently spoke at the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention about the continued partnership aimed at developing solutions that help reduce business travel friction. They discussed how technology and automation can simplify business travel before, during, and after business trips, but especially when it comes to expenses – which historically have been a nuisance for business travelers.
Here’s a look at what Amex is doing to support business travel at every stage:
Business travelers want frictionless experiences, and companies play a critical role in ensuring that their solutions meet their employees’ travel needs.
“Booking travel and managing expenses can be timely and costly for businesses, and technology is helping them make fast, more informed decisions on what matters most: delivering a safe, secure, and smooth traveler experience,” said Aliya Bokhari, Senior Vice President at American Express.
Amex business customers can issue trip-specific virtual Cards that leverage trip data to automatically configure policy controls and spending parameters, which help them stay within company policies. Once complete, the Cards can automatically and seamlessly populate into travelers’ digital wallets. Of business travel decision makers already using virtual Cards, 73% predict they will increase their use for employee business travel over the next year, according to the survey. And for companies who aren’t using virtual Corporate Cards, 82% say they are likely to consider using them.
“Virtual Cards provide enhanced security, customization, and cash flow management, while providing better visibility into an organization’s spending,” said Bright. “Automation continues to make virtual Cards useful with controls for spending limits, expiration dates, and allowed merchant categories.”
During the trip
The simplest business trips are not immune to costly travel issues, and AI is emerging as a flexible and agile solution to manage even the most unexpected itinerary changes. Our survey found 40% of companies use AI to ensure employee expenses adhere to company policy as spontaneous updates are made to accommodate changes that occur during the trip.
During the trip, duty of care is also especially important: companies need to know where their employees are traveling and be certain they can get the right help in case there’s an emergency. Amex offers companies the data and insights to help contact and support their team to find medical care, extend their stay, or react to other unexpected circumstances.
The final leg of business travel for many is expense reporting, and travelers look for the express lane to complete their expenses as quickly and easily as possible. According to the Trendex, nearly three-quarters (73%) of business travel decision makers use some type of expense management software to manage travel for employees, and companies are using digital technology to automate the expense management process.
American Express and Microsoft are developing a solution that enhances the expense management process by addressing some of the pain points business travelers and expense processors have long faced. Using AI and machine learning capabilities, the solution will bolster existing processes by simplifying and automating expense reporting and approvals, as well as streamlining reconciliation and reimbursements for accounting teams.
“American Express was one of the first financial services companies to embrace AI technologies, starting with our use of machine learning in 2010 to help prevent fraud,” said Allegra Driscoll, Senior Vice President & Unit CIO in Technology at American Express. “The decision engine that we’re building in partnership with Microsoft is another example of how we employ AI and machine learning capabilities to deliver innovative products and experiences that meet the evolving needs of our customers.”
What is top of mind for companies deciding to leverage AI solutions for business travel? Decision makers say that safety/security (67%) is very important, with functionality (56%), training (53%) and cost of AI solution (53%) on their minds too.
* The American Express Business Travel Trendex, fielded July 10-17, 2023, polled 1,007 business travelers, defined as full-time employees who have traveled by air for work 2+ times in the past 12 months and submit their own travel expenses; and 501 business travel decision makers, defined as those who manage and/or make decisions about their company’s business travel programs.
Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.
She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.