Hybrid working models and the current economic landscape are significantly impacting the way large businesses approach travel and expenses (T&E), according to a survey of financial managers conducted by Neo, the travel and expense management platform of American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT).

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 the top spot among impacts of hybrid work. A large majority of finance managers (69%) expect to see an increase in fraudulent claims being made because of the current economic situation.
In other findings:

• T&E management is still seen as a necessary cost by 57% of respondents, and 40% see it as a key enabler to their company’s growth, similar to results reported by Neo in 2019. Unsurprisingly, said the survey, cost-cutting is “flying up” the priority list for businesses, and 76% of finance teams agree that expense policies could be used to cut costs without cutting travel.

• Large businesses are turning to advanced digital solutions to speed up and improve the accuracy and reliability of expense management. A “huge” 89% of finance decision-makers say they trust AI to support T&E management, and more than a third (34%) even trust it to detect issues without any human intervention. In fact, the majority (65%) of those asked expect T&E to become intervention free in the future.

• The top two reasons finance managers would be swayed to change T&E management are a better employee user experience (nearly a third) and faster end-to-end processing time (26%). A sharp focus on employee engagement is also clear, with over a third of respondents (36%) claiming it is one of their highest priorities for 2023, just behind cost control (45%).

• 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.

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Sebastien Bardin, Neo’s vice president-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.”

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