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American Express GBT: Global Multinationals Increase Their Business Travel

American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) saw global multinational customers increase their business travel during the first quarter.

The growth in travel by these companies outpaced that of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) for the first time since the recovery from the pandemic, the B2B software and services company for travel and expense said Tuesday (May 7) during its quarterly earnings call.

During the first quarter, Amex GBT saw its global multinational customers’ transaction growth increase 11% year over year while that of SMBs rose 5%, according to a presentation released Tuesday in conjunction with the call.

“In global multinational, we’ve seen very positive same-store sales growth across several sectors, particularly technology, up approximately 30% in the first quarter,” Amex GBT CEO Paul Abbott said during the earning call. “We also saw double-digit growth in professional services, pharma, mining, energy and utilities.”

Among the company’s SMB customers, growth slowed by three percentage points over the last two quarters, driven by slower same-store sales, Abbott said during the call.

“We believe this is being driven by higher interest costs and sustained higher inflation, resulting in stronger controls on [SMB] spending,” Abbot said during the call. “This is a broader trend with U.S. [SMB] customers that American Express also highlighted in their Q1 results.”

Both American Express and Amex GBT are seeing that higher inflation and sustained higher prices are leading SMBs to tighten their spending, Abbott said.

“I think as confidence improves, as macroeconomic conditions improve, perhaps as the inflation outlook becomes a little clearer, we do expect that to change,” Abbott said. “We’ll certainly still see [SMB] medium- to long-term being a growth engine for the company.”

Looking ahead, Amex GBT sees the SMB segment as its biggest opportunity for growth, as 70% of SMBs are not currently in a managed travel program, Abbott said during the call.

“As our progress clearly demonstrates, more and more [SMB] customers are recognizing the value of our leading software and services and a professionally managed travel program,” Abbott said. “As a result, [SMB] new wins over the last 12 months totaled $2 billion.”

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