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A Softer Way to Save

Pre-Trip Auditor Leads to $400,000 Savings Online

Situation

We were approached by a large pharmaceutical company that boasted some of the most talented professionals in the industry. The client, a European pharmaceutical company with U.S. operations, had long respected its travelers’ varied needs through a relaxed travel program, but when their patent rights for a frequently prescribed drug expired, they needed to find savings – and fast.

Their challenge? They had a strong employee culture, and putting a mandated travel program in place might cause more harm than good. They knew business travel can be stressful, and didn’t want to exacerbate the strain that comes from being on the road away from home with strict travel policies and processes. How do you encourage smarter travel – travel that’s efficient, productive and satisfying – without adopting a stringent mandated environment? You educate and empower employees to make the right travel decisions on their own.

Solution

American Express Global Business Travel evaluated the client’s program to uncover hidden savings opportunities. We built insightful reports that showed the client’s online booking adoption was low: its U.S. travelers made 15,000 bookings each year, and only 23 percent were booked online. Looking at the transaction fee alone, which is lower online, the client had tremendous opportunity to save money on average ticket prices; in addition, online booking tools show trip prices from a variety of suppliers, which often incites “visual guilt” that triggers travelers to book lower-priced tickets.

American Express Global Business Travel recommended that the client implement PRE-TRIP AUDITOR (PTA), which audits all online and offline bookings processed by American Express Global Business Travel. Built on powerful, highly customizable technology, this tool improves control by notifying travelers who make out-of-policy bookings or triggering alerts to travel authorizers, who can approve, decline or hold bookings. The client took a soft communications approach, configuring PTA to remind travelers that they should book online – within three weeks, online booking adoption soared to 51 percent, more than a 50 percent increase

Outcome

By making one small tweak to their travel program through PTA’s automatic online booking reminders, the client moved 3,300 more transactions online in just three weeks, ultimately saving them more than $400,000 – two percent of their entire travel budget.