New technologies that will help business travelers and travel managers were announced by American Express, along with a doubling of American Express Global Business Travel investment in technology.
The capabilities include a new platform that leverages social gaming mechanics to reward policy-adherent traveler behaviors; an integration with TripCase; a new capability that updates Corporate Card charges in nearreal-time so travelers can manage expenses on-the-go; and a new traveler-facing mobile interface for American Express’s duty of care solution, AX CONNECT.
“One of the biggest challenges facing the business travel industry as a whole is how to effectively integrate consumer-based expectations and technologies without sacrificing safety or compliance,” said Kim Goodman, president, American Express Global Business Travel. “Because of our strong technology foundation and proprietary data assets, American Express is able to deliver solutions that enhance travel and expense management by reaching our customers on the platforms and applications they use in their daily lives.”
Goodman added, “Global Business Travel’s commitment in 2013 to double our investment in technology is creating exciting opportunities for our business to introduce innovative products that deliver a connected, engaging travel experience; enhance the premium level of service core to American Express; and continue to address the safety, security and compliance concerns of our corporate clients.”
In explaining the investments, Amex said, increasingly today’s workforce is made up of Millennials and Gen X-ers, who are generally tech-savvy gamers by nature and value easy-to-use tools that capture their interest and provide a new level of engagement.
"American Express believes that incorporating gamification – an incentives-based approach using techniques from game design to motivate certain user behaviors – into travel management programs can prevent program leakage and therefore drive increased cost savings," Amex said.
Working with The Behavior Platform by Badgeville, a global leader in gamification and behavior management, American Express said it has created a pilot program that can be tailored to each company’s culture and travel program gaps. It uses social game mechanics to reward travelers for making decisions that fall within their company’s travel policy, Amex said.
The program is fully integrated, enabling trip and traveler data to flow seamlessly from the online booking tool to the game platform through American Express’s proprietary data capability.
Travelers accept policy-related “missions”, Amex explained, such as booking a preferred supplier, booking in advance, booking a hotel at the time of air booking, and booking using a company’s approved payments method. If the traveler is successful at completing the mission, the program rewards the traveler through status, badges, and leader boards or via their company’s internal recognition program.
The integration with TripCase, a itinerary management solution, will provide American Express Global Business Travel clients with mobile trip management by directly feeding trip details from American Express into the traveler’s TripCase account, as well as providing automatic near real-time updates regarding itinerary changes.
The TripCase mobile application is accessible on any iOS- or Android-powered device, or through the web browser on any smartphone.
Amex said the integration is aimed at keeping American Express Global Business Travel customers well-informed through on-the-go access to critical trip information.
• Automatic upload of trip details and automatic updates into one itinerary within minutes of booking a trip online or on the phone, as well as the ability to add trip elements via email
• Flight updates, including gate changes, delays and cancellations based on real-time information
• Click-to-call access to the traveler’s specific American Express travel service number
• Map and directions during the trip, based on location and itinerary
• Access to critical information such as addresses and telephone numbers for the flight, hotel, car rental and other items included in the itinerary
• Ability to share critical itinerary information with friends and family directly from the app or website
In addition, American Express Corporate Cardmembers are able to link their cards to the TripCase application for easy access and reminders about their respective travel-related card benefits, such as airport lounge access and in-flight Wi-Fi, if available.
As corporate travelers today need to do more with less time, having the ability to manage and process expenses outside of the office is becoming increasingly important, Amex said. "American Express can now push near real-time transaction alerts to expense management mobile applications and enable Corporate Cardmembers to efficiently manage their expenses on the go, reducing the effort required when back in the office."
The first expense provider to integrate this near real-time data from American Express is Concur. American Express Corporate Cardmembers that use Concur Expense and Concur’s new receipt capture application, ExpenseIt, can benefit from transaction notifications in near real-time, prompting them to capture a photo of their receipt, and ExpenseIt will fill in all the details needed to submit their expense report. The near real-time expense capability helps streamline the end-to-end travel experience for road warriors and helps them focus on the ‘business’ part of business travel, Amex says.
As business becomes increasingly global and corporations make further investments in business travel in order to drive growth, American Express said it has seen its customers continue to place an emphasis on duty of care solutions that increase traveler safety and mitigate potential risk.
To enhance its offering in this area, American Express Global Business Travel is adding functionality to AX CONNECT, its duty of care solution, which today enables travel managers to pinpoint impacted travelers, communicate with them via SMS, and prioritize aid to those travelers with the greatest need during a time of disruption.
The enhancement to AX CONNECT’s communication capabilities, which is expected to be available later this month, is a mobile application that provides an intuitive interface through which travelers can communicate with their travel managers.
The AX CONNECT communication capabilities will include the following features, Amex said:
• Customized Two-Way Messaging: Travel managers will be able to send employees customized messages through the application’s interface and provide response options for travelers to select with the tap of a finger. For instance, travel managers can customize these messages to check a traveler’s status or offer choices for itinerary changes.
· Automatic Alerts: Travelers will be informed through automatic travel alerts prior to and during their trip that provide information, such as safety tips and potential travel disruptions at their destination or current location.
· GPS Location Services: Travelers will have the option to approve a travel manager’s request for a one-time share of their GPS-based location during a time of disruption. This will enable travel managers to provide more customized assistance.
• Click-to-Call: In the event of an emergency, travelers will be able to reach a member of their company’s security team with one click.