Business travel is coming back. But filing manual expense reports may not be.
In late 2021, U.S. Bancorp acquired TravelBank, a San Francisco-based fintech company that provides an all-in-one expense, travel management, and virtual payment solution for businesses and their employees. With the payments expertise of U.S. Bank, the combined offering creates the most comprehensive solution of its kind in the industry.
As part of the acquisition, TravelBank co-founder and CEO Duke Chung joined U.S. Bank to play a key role in the bank’s efforts to deliver easy-to-use digital payment and expense solutions to businesses. We caught up with Chung to hear more about business-travel trends.
As someone who lives and breathes business travel, what excites you the most about the uptick in corporate travel?
I see a few major trends emerging that make this space so exciting:
The next generation of corporate credit cards will dramatically simplify travel and how we reconcile our travel expenses. Gone are the days of manually filing expense reports!
Business travelers are eager to get back to travelling and they are now going to look for newer experiences during hotel stays like healthy meals and safe places to exercise, inside and outside.
The "off-site" is now the new "on-site.” Since many employees have re-located over the pandemic, companies are now looking to bring everyone together, both local and remote employees. Before the pandemic, these were known as "off-sites." Moving forward, these will now be known as "on-sites" for companies. It's a change that companies will embrace for the foreseeable future and travel will play an important role in bringing teams together.
The pandemic changed corporate travel and expense needs greatly. What is the most positive change that will stick around for good?
Airline change fees may forever be gone. During the pandemic, customers demanded flexibility for making changes to their itinerary and we saw airlines accommodate passengers. We expect this to stay, while airlines will look to other areas – such as more on-board food and entertainment options – to replace these revenue streams.
How has TravelBank’s integration with U.S. Bancorp accelerated efforts to create an end-to-end expense, travel and payment program?
U.S. Bank offers the payment technology and TravelBank brings in the expense and travel capabilities. Working together, we will enable businesses to provide better payment, expense and travel experiences for their employees. The pandemic accelerated adoption of easy-to-use digital tools for consumers, and employees now expect similar experiences when they are at work.
What’s one travel tip you’d share with someone new to corporate travel?
Most employees aren’t eligible for business class, so they will want to book a good seat early. Exit rows, aisle or window seats, and anywhere close to the front. For short business trips that have connecting legs, you might want an aisle seat near the front of the plane so you can deboard quickly on arrival.
What’s your most memorable work trip experience?
When I used to fly between Washington, D.C. and San Francisco frequently, I would often run into the same flight crew. Over time they remembered my name, helped me with my bags and even knew my favorite snacks. The one time I was late to the departing gate by 10 minutes and they even waited for me!
Chung also recently wrote an article for Forbes on his top 10 travel and expense trends business leaders should consider, if you’d like to read more.
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