Meshing the future: unveiling a new era in travel management solutions

Thursday 29 February 2024 09:59 CET | Editor: Alin Popa | Interview

Mesh Payments' co-founder and CEO, Oded Zehavi, discusses their new Travel Management solution and the changing business travel landscape in 2024. 

Multinational companies often grapple with complex travel and expense management issues in today's global market. Can you elaborate on their key challenge?

The primary hurdle in effectively managing travel and expenses is achieving comprehensive visibility and control. This challenge stems from a need for integrated systems to monitor employee spending across various regions and departments. Traditional methods, like manual expense reporting, are fraught with inefficiencies – lost receipts, data entry errors, and the cumbersome process of collecting reports. Implementing an automated, unified travel and expense management system is essential to counter these issues. A modern system with integrated virtual and physical corporate cards provides real-time insight into expenses.

In the dynamic landscape of business travel, how are companies balancing effective cost control and meeting the increasing demands and expectations of their business travellers?

Recent research, including a travel study by Mesh Payments, reveals a significant disconnect between corporate travel and expense management. Notably, 78% of employees find the process of expense reporting both confusing and time-consuming. 

Companies face multifaceted challenges in adapting their travel policies for regional, and the complexities of international travel, particularly in a decentralised work environment. To address these issues, many companies are shifting towards a traveller-centric approach. This strategy focuses on offering more flexibility and choices to business travellers, leveraging data analytics for more efficient spending, and forging personalised agreements with travel providers. These measures aim to enhance the travel experience for employees and ensure rigorous cost management.

Last summer, you launched Mesh's Travel Management Solution at a big business travel industry show, Global Business Travel Association (GBTA)? Why does the world need another T&E solution?

The pandemic significantly accelerated the adoption of digital solutions in travel and expense management. Companies are more distributed across geographies than ever before, focusing more on flexible travel policies, real-time expense tracking, and ensuring employee safety and well-being during travel. 

At the same time, few companies and travel managers would say that any travel solution or company works seamlessly across every region or country; there are just too many local needs and nuances. So, we stood back and saw we could solve this holistically — for the first time giving companies the flexibility to work with multiple TMCs and a combination of both off and online booking, all with the unmatched convenience and visibility of integrated corporate cards and expense management automation. Those were the driving factors behind the launch of Mesh Travel Management. 

Do you believe that the winning combination lies in TMC flexibility, integrated cards, and expense automation?

Yes, it is an irresistible combination and one that we uniquely offer globally.

Looking towards the future, how do you anticipate the travel and expense (T&E) management landscape evolving for companies? What technological innovations and strategic shifts do you foresee playing a pivotal role in this evolution?

The future of T&E management is likely to be shaped by a holistic, integrated approach addressing the entire spectrum of T&E processes. Companies will focus on streamlining everything from approval workflows and policy adherence to booking, reporting, and data analysis. The key to resolving many existing challenges lies in consolidating these facets into a centralised, adaptable T&E platform that integrates multiple partners and channels. This shift promises to eliminate disjointed processes, reduce data silos, alleviate employee frustration, and minimise manual labour. 

How does generative AI fit into your travel and expense management vision?

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are significant in automating expense reporting and policy compliance. There's also a growing emphasis on integrating travel booking and expense management systems for a seamless user experience. Of course, we've been investing in AI and automation since the get-go to help streamline the user experience. Still, finance is all about accuracy, so generative AI plays less of a role in finance operations. Why? Because financial operations involve complex regulatory and compliance requirements, any automated decisions need to be transparent and explainable. Generative AI, in its current form, often operates as a 'black box,' making it challenging to understand how certain conclusions or recommendations are reached.

What else do you think will shape business travel in 2024?

The resurgence of in-person meetings and events is driving a solid recovery in business travel.

Another trend is the rise of ‘super commuting’, where employees hired in locations far from their designated offices or those who have moved away from big cities now travel more frequently to their company headquarters, often internationally. 

Overall, I see the business travel landscape in 2024 characterised by a blend of recovery, technological advancement (with the flexibility to accommodate not just employees, but guest and contractor travel needs), and a shift toward more sustainable and flexible travel practices.

The way companies travel will never be the same. It is onward and upward from here.

This interview was originally published in The Paypers` Global Payments and Fintech Trends Report 2024. The report compiles insights and expertise from leaders representing companies across the financial services spectrum and it delves into the latest innovations and trends in payments and fintech across key markets worldwide.

About Oded Zehavi

Oded Zehavi is the co-founder and CEO of the finance automation and travel management platform Mesh Payments. Previously, Oded served as Payoneer’s Chief Revenue Officer and led the launch of PayPal Middle East and Africa. He has extensive experience in leadership roles at various technology, banking, and software companies, and serves as a board member or advisor to several fintech companies. 


About Mesh Payments

Mesh Payments is the spend and travel management platform purpose-built for modern global enterprises with multi‑entity and currency support, global reimbursements, and the flexibility to use one or more preferred travel management companies. Mesh is the only leading US spend management vendor that can manage spending for companies with or without a US entity.

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Keywords: travel payments, spend management, corporate card, digital payments
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Mesh Payments
Countries: World
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Payments & Commerce

Mesh Payments

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