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10 Travel Cost Management Shifts Leaders Should Prepare For

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Duke Chung, Co-Founder and CEO, TravelBank

The future of how we travel, do business, go to work, pay and navigate the digital world is changing every day. Companies are each on their own digital transformation journey, and as CFOs and treasurers need to make decisions about their next step, knowing what’s trending is important to help understand where markets and consumers are headed.

During the remainder of this year and leading up to next year, companies will see the following trends in corporate travel expense management come to life. Some are already there.

  1. Employees expect great digital experiences at work. Companies are focusing more on providing their employees with better travel, expense and payment experiences. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of easy-to-use digital tools for consumers, and employees expect similar experiences at work.
  2. Plastics go virtual. Virtual cards will grow in popularity with remote working and the gig economy. Virtual cards are easier to issue and manage, leading to a lower risk of fraud and issuance fees, as well as a more controlled yet easier cardholder experience. In addition, the pandemic has significantly accelerated both the adoption of mobile and contactless payments by end users and their adoption by merchants, streamlining the use of virtual cards for business spending.
  3. CFOs need exceptional digital partners. Businesses will continue to be drawn to commercial banks that provide all-in-one financial services, from treasury management to corporate cards, to loans and expense management. Demand from CFOs and users for more modern and consumed experiences will drive companies towards partners who can provide the full suite.
  4. There is still some travel turbulence. Travel will be on the road to recovery by 2023, but that road will be bumpy as temporary setbacks can occur. During the pandemic, new habits have formed for being more comfortable in virtual meetings than face-to-face meetings, which can become a structural hurdle that must be overcome before you make a full recovery.
  5. There is a new category of business travel. We will see an increase in the number of ‘rare business travelers’ who periodically travel to remote business locations or to corporate headquarters for important meetings. As more employees work remotely, team events will take place in different destinations, leading to a new group of rare business travelers who previously didn’t travel for work, but now do. In many cases, these employees moved to a different location from their previous office or started working for companies that were not close to their home office.
  6. Users drive digital transformation. Delivering great customer experiences for every user will continue to drive digital transformations in every business.
  7. More data means more efficiency. AI, machine learning and big data will increasingly automate productivity for payment approval workflows, user recommendations, and reducing fraud and abuse. As a result, CFOs will become more dependent on technology to manage their finances.
  8. More attention is being paid to environmentally friendly management. Environmental social governance (ESG) is becoming an important factor for users when making purchasing choices. There is a greater preference for brands and products that support ESG initiatives. Consumers demand action and responsibility from companies about their impact.
  9. Mobile comes first. Mobile will democratize access for any business user to make their expense reports, make payments and book travel, all within minutes of signing up, anywhere, anytime. This is already the norm in other regions, and as the US catches up, we’ll see more companies move to everything mobile.
  10. Cards take precedence over separate expense solutions. Companies both small and large are increasingly seeing business credit cards as the future of expense reimbursement. While card and expense solutions have been disparate solutions in the past, they will soon merge into one through the digital transformation of expense management capabilities.

With greater awareness of these upcoming market shifts, business leaders can be better prepared to navigate what the future holds for travel expense management.


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