September 12, 2019

What Machine Learning in Corporate Travel Means for Finance Teams

Travel expenses often account for at least 10% of a company’s entire budget, yet many organizations lack real visibility or control over that significant cost.

When it comes to managing and optimizing business travel, too many finance leaders still rely on behind-the-times legacy systems that deliver a poor user experience, resulting in a lack of employee adoption and limited visibility into travel spend.



Finance leaders are frustrated, even stymied, watching their employees book out of policy.

But there is another, better way.

Finance teams today can leverage intelligent tools to make the most of business travel for employees and the companies sending travelers out on the road. A new class of business travel solutions that harnesses the power of machine learning goes far beyond what outdated legacy systems have to offer.

Machine learning is a subset of AI through which machines are programmed to analyze huge amounts of data, looking for patterns, and making decisions based on those patterns.

These technologies are revolutionizing financial services across sectors, empowering teams to exceed customer expectations, reduce operational costs, and make smarter overall business decisions.

Machine learning creates better personalization throughout the business travel booking experience. Increased personalization leads to higher adoption, which provides travel managers more visibility and control over travel spend. With greater visibility and control, finance teams have greater control on company costs, a better understanding of how to plan and adjust travel budget, and ways to optimize travel policy.

In corporate travel specifically, machine learning is the foundation of a cost-saving program.

This technology balances personalized search results with median price per booking to ensure bookings remain in policy, and it gets smarter with each search to surface ever more relevant and cost-effective results. The predictive power of machine learning identifies issues or discrepancies that will need human attention before they occur.

As finance teams know all too well, traveler adoption is one of the most important factors in optimizing and controlling travel spend.

Half of all corporate travelers “go rogue” and purchase out-of-policy travel, because tools often present irrelevant inventory and a sub-par user experience. The best way to drive traveler adoption is by providing a user-friendly booking experience, one that delights users by makings an informed booking possible in just six minutes (versus the industry typical 60 minutes).

The best, AI-driven platforms continuously improve the user experience by finding recurring patterns in preferences and behavior and then predicting the best options that can meet both company policy and the road warrior’s needs. The technology learns more about a user’s booking behavior every time the employee uses it.

And even more beneficial for the business, smart technologies can create easy-to-understand dynamic policies that are tailored to put cost-conscious guardrails around each search.

TripActions customers have shared stories of how our AI-empowered system drives savings and visibility, which informs our ongoing development of our booking technology.

“We previously had a very low adoption rate…I had no idea where they were going, or where they were staying. At the end of the year, it was very difficult for me to pull any of our reporting numbers,” explained Hudl events and travel coordinator Brandon Gries. “With flights, previously, our average ticket price was near $600 globally. Now, we’re below $500.”

By leveraging AI, business travel solutions can better match travelers’ personal preferences and desires with inventory that adheres to company policy. By providing employees with flexibility throughout the booking experience, travelers are more likely to use the booking platform and - ultimately - stay in policy.

An overlooked benefit of these new technologies is the increase in employee productivity.

A six-minute booking window is significantly better for productivity, and a proactive, global 24/7 live human support team means that employees don’t have to spend their valuable time changing flights or handling unexpected travel changes. They are able to arrive at their meetings refreshed and prepared, leading to more deals and deeper relationships.

Effective business travel management is a cornerstone of a strong financial organization.

It’s crucial for forward-thinking, growth-focused organizations to recognize the opportunities for AI in corporate travel. To learn more about how machine learning is revolutionizing corporate travel, download the TripActions ebook “Behind the Buzzwords: How Machine Learning is Improving Corporate Travel.”