When considering what the business travel landscape will look like in 2019 and how corporate travel programs will be affected, there is one word that will be on the tips of everyone’s lips: data.

Whether it’s about protecting travelers’ sensitive details, capturing trip itineraries for duty of care purposes or using AI-driven analytics for program optimization, here are several ways data will play a critical role in corporate travel programs this year.

Data privacy

When the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect in May 2018, companies worldwide had to take a close look at how they were collecting and using the personal data of consumers based in the EU.

But that was just the beginning. Since then, we have seen other countries, from Brazil to India and the United States, working to introduce or boost GDPR-style legislation and there likely will be more.

While companies were concentrated on getting their own data privacy affairs in order last year, we anticipate that this year their focus will shift to their third-party suppliers.

Considering the amount of personal data collected by the travel industry, including home addresses and passport numbers, we strongly advise that organizations do their due diligence to ensure their travel partners are complying with data privacy regulations. Travel and procurement managers should carefully review their contracts and speak with suppliers to understand how their traveling employees’ data is being handled as well as what protections are in place if a data breach occurs.

Speaking of which …

Data protection

We expect organizations will be investing even more time and money into protecting the sensitive data of their employees and that of the company this year.

Part of that effort will focus on training traveling employees on what they can do to protect their data while on the road (you can get started here) as well as using anti-fraud technology to bolster cybersecurity.

We also are seeing more companies beginning to use virtual card numbers (VCN) for hotel transactions as a way to protect their corporate credit card accounts from being compromised. Once a transaction has been made, these highly secure, single-use VCNs become invalid, minimizing the risk of fraud.

Data capture

While you don’t want your travelers’ information falling into the wrong hands, you do need it to be at your own fingertips. The ability to retrieve complete trip itinerary and contact details quickly and easily is essential for duty of care governance, a growing area of concern with natural disasters, acts of violence and civil unrest regularly making headlines these days.

We know that capturing full trip details is tricky with business travelers often booking directly with suppliers instead of via the online booking tool or travel management company. But American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has a few tools to make nudging in-policy bookings easier.

For instance, our Trip Recommender™ solution automatically sends travelers who have reserved their flight, but not their hotel, a message with booking links to properties based on their corporate travel policies, past trip behaviors and includes at least one company preferred option among the recommendations. Our online booking tool, Neo™, allows travel managers to create custom policy reminders that are pushed at key booking moments.

We also are noticing a trend of more companies moving toward a pre-trip approval system to gain greater control over trip expenditures and visibility over travelers’ whereabouts with the rising interest in our own solution, Expert Auditor™.

Data analytics

Travel mangers have been using data analytics to inform program and policy decisions for some time now, but this year we expect they will take it to a whole new level thanks to sophisticated AI technology that is providing even more relevant KPIs and insights into their program’s trends and spend.
American Express GBT has built its own products with robust, easy-to-use reporting tools. From Premier Insights™, our advanced data visualization tool that allows you to see the big picture as well as drill down into minute program details, to Neo, which offers an estimate of all trip costs and detailed expense reports, our tools help give a holistic picture of a traveler’s end-to-end trip experience. And all this can lead to additional cost savings, a more personalized program for your travelers and smarter program decisions overall.

To learn more about how our data-driven solutions can benefit your travel program, please contact us today.