Business Travel Expense Management Priorities Changing

According to a new study from American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT), new hybrid models of working and the current economic landscape are impacting the way businesses approach travel and expense (T&E) management. More than 90% say it has affected the process in some way. More scrutiny on expenses and more rapidly made claims (both at 41%) vie for top spot of impacts of hybrid work.

The study reports that the three top challenges businesses face with their current T&E processes are:

  • It depletes resources: 37% say that processing expense reports is a drain on time, which can impact employees’ productivity and satisfaction.
  • The reimbursement process is drawn out: 35% of respondents noted it takes too long to pay travellers back. This can be an extra burden on employees during tough economic times, especially if they are paying out of pocket.
  • Errors are not easily identifiable: 30% said it is difficult to detect expense fraud in their current systems. This finding stands out as 69% of those polled also expect an increase in fraud associated with the cost-of-living crisis.

While focused on reining in costs, nearly all finance leaders surveyed see travel as a worthwhile investment. Fifty-seven percent say it is a necessary cost, while 40% view it as a major enabler for their company’s development and growth. A majority (76%) of finance teams agree that expense policies could be used to cut costs without cutting travel.

Looking ahead, priorities for finance decision makers are set to shift even further beyond cost savings.

For example, 64% of respondents said the amount of carbon emitted during a business trip would be considered more important than how much it costs. Meanwhile, 71% agreed that using travel to strengthen relationships would also be more important than lower costs.

They also seem ready to embrace tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

The vast majority (89%) trust AI and automation to help reduce fraud and errors in expense reports, and more than a third (34%) believe such technology can detect issues without any human intervention necessary.

The study, conducted by Neo, Amex GBT’s integrated travel and expense management platform, polled 1,202 respondents who work in a finance role and manage or are involved in processing expenses.

Sebastien Bardin, Neo’s VP of Product, said: “Businesses are not shying away from technology and integrated booking and expense systems to help them drive compliance in their travel programs. When finance teams invest in upgrading to integrated T&E solutions, they expect intelligent systems powered by AI and great user experiences to drive adoption. This is what we focus on every day at Neo.”