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New AmEx Data Shows AI and Other Tech’s Impact on Business Travel

Companies are using AI to manage different aspects of business trips

October 18, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Medienstürmer / Unsplash

According to American Express, nearly 70 percent of companies use AI to manage different aspects of business trips, such as traveler expenses and last-minute itinerary changes. The company is now promoting its own solutions, which include trip-specific virtual corporate credit cards.

The credit card provider polled around 1,000 business travelers who have flown for their jobs at least twice in the past year and around 500 employees in charge of business travel decisions for their company. It found that many employees find the management of business travel burdensome and are already using technological solutions to reduce the hassle before, during, and after trips.

American Express Platinum Card / Photo: RYO Alexandre/Shutterstock

“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.

American Express business customers can issue employees trip-specific virtual corporate credit cards configured with the company policies and spending parameters and automatically populated into travelers’ digital wallets.

The company claims virtual cards offer greater security, customization, and cash flow management. They also provide data to the company on employee spending. Automation sets controls such as spending limits, expiration dates, and allowed merchant categories.

Photo: Courtesy of CardMapr.nl on Unsplash

Among the business travel decision-makers already working with virtual cards, 73 percent anticipate using them more over the next year. Among companies not using virtual cards, 82 percent say they consider adding them to their arsenal.

AI is also flexible enough to respond to travel snafus and unexpected itinerary changes, adjusting allowable expenses accordingly. 40 percent of surveyed companies are already using AI to ensure employee spending continues to adhere to company policies as their itineraries change in real-time.

As decision-makers turn to AI to manage trips, they identified safety and security as their most important consideration (67 percent), followed by the functionality of the tools (56 percent), training (53 percent), and the cost (53 percent), the survey found.

When the unexpected occurs, AI can help employers uphold their duty of care toward traveling staff members, including assisting them in extending their trip or finding medical care.

Traveler / Photo: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

For many business travelers, the worst part of the trip comes when they get back home and have to log their expenses. To streamline expense reporting and oversight, 73 percent of business travel managers say their company already uses some expense management software.

American Express and Microsoft are developing a new streamlined solution powered by AI and machine learning that simplifies and automates expense reporting, approvals, reconciliation, and reimbursements.

“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 and 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.”