American Express Launches Compliance and Planning Tool

American Express Global Business Travel has announced a new traveler information enhancement to its compliance tool, Pre-Trip Auditor (PTA). The PTA solution offers companies various options of enforcing traveler compliance. Methods include automatically sending notifications to travelers when they’ve booked out of policy and having itineraries sent to a traveler’s manager for approval before the trip is ticketed, for example.

Travelers will now be able to also send relevant trip notifications such as passport/visa information for international travel, company incentives or programs, industry advisories on high-risk destinations, recommendations for virtual meeting options and learn how to utilize enterprise mobile applications while on a trip.

With PTA, companies can control their costs and keep an eye on the bottom line, American Express says. The added messaging capabilities give companies an opportunity to stay connected with their travelers by sending relevant trip information as well as fostering enhanced compliance with company policy.

“Compliance and control around travel bookings present a leading opportunity for companies to drive meaningful savings to their managed program,” said Mike Qualantone, senior vice president and general Manager, Global Supplier Relations, Partner Network and Marketing for American Express Global Business Travel.

“Having a tool such as Pre-Trip Auditor in place can contribute to savings that otherwise would have been lost if travelers default to personal preferences rather than adhering to corporate policy. With this new PTA enhancement, we are increasing the value for travelers by offering a way for companies to provide a deeper level of information regarding their upcoming travel,” Qualantone said.

“As the economy continues to emerge from a recessionary environment, companies have a laser-focus on methods to best regulate travel compliance to protect against absorbing fees and other rising costs unnecessarily, especially as business travel prices are expected to continue to rise across all travel categories and geographic regions.”

Global companies have been the early adopters of PTA, American Express says, with a majority of American Express Global Business Travel’s global accounts deploying the solution. Mid-sized companies are increasing their implementation of PTA although they do lag behind larger companies in this area. Evaluation of PTA data from last year also indicates that even though there was increased usage of PTA, many bookings were still out of policy.

In 2010, a year where compliance was top of mind for businesses, the percentage of out-of-policy transactions grew from 26 percent to 33 percent year over year, with 97 percent of those booked out of policy being approved by managers. Companies are still leaving the door open for continued savings opportunities. Savings can be significant but a company’s goals and culture need to drive this change. One mid-sized client saved more than a half-million dollars on air travel in 2010 using the PTA tool, American Express says.

“Business travel is a demonstrated driver of business growth and to be competitive, companies need to budget appropriately for the travel they need to meet growth objectives,” said Qualantone. “In this budget constrained environment, it is more important to maximize every dollar spent on travel, but you can’t expect what you don’t inspect. PTA is an important tool for helping companies to optimize their return on investment, especially within a fluid and dynamic supplier pricing environment and when company policies at times are at odds with a traveling employee’s personal preferences.”

Visit www.AmericanExpress.com/BusinessTravel.

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