Most people hate filing their expense reports after a business trip, but new advances are slowly turning the time-intensive process into a more frictionless experience for both travelers and their companies.

I took a look this week at the new innovations that are making filing expense reports, and finding the right trends to base your policy on, easier than ever before.

Things like machine learning are automating the time-consuming processes that usually take ages to accomplish, while deeper integration between business travel booking and expense management has moved into the mainstream.

It may not be the sexiest topic, but it sure is important. Check below for the story and the latest on how trends are influencing the business traveler experience around the world.

If you have any feedback about the newsletter or tips, feel free to reach out via email at as@skift.com or tweet me @sheivach.

— Andrew Sheivachman, Business Travel Editor

Airlines, Tech, and distribution

Expense Technology Gets Smarter as Providers Look Beyond Receipts: Beyond automatically integrating travel booking with expenses, a lot is being done to give travel managers and financial departments more powerful tools to track spending. It also helps that these tools will eventually make the expense report process much easier for travelers.

Hilton Follows Marriott on Commission Cuts in New Challenge for Meeting Planners: The floodgates are now open for the larger hotel chains operating in North America to lower their commission rates for meetings alongside Marriott and Hilton. At a time when meeting space is limited and expensive, a wider shift will likely lead to a wave of consolidation for third-party meeting planners as they become less profitable.

Tariff Spat Could Chill China-U.S. Travel Even Without a Trade War: Travel companies were spared the first round of the U.S.-China trade war. But outbound travel to the United States and U.S. hospitality companies could become collateral damage without too much provocation.

Qantas Considers Chicago as Part of Its Long-Haul Expansion: Just after this story was written, Qantas rival Air New Zealand announced a new nonstop from Auckland to Chicago. Air New Zealand’s main hub in Auckland is closer to Chicago than Qantas’ Sydney base, so Air New Zealand has an advantage. But Qantas can probably make Brisbane-Chicago work.

Activist Investor Pushes for a Travelport Sale to Private Equity: Will hedge fund Elliott Management buy out travel technology company Travelport? Or is it using financial jujitsu and hype to make a quick profit? One thing we know: Distribution companies like Travelport remain valuable.

The Future of Travel

The Evolution of the Hotel Front Desk: Even consumers who embrace technology may worry that companies are exploiting them through so-called personalization. Hoteliers need to balance digital ingenuity with a human touch.

New Private Member Clubs Take On Soho House to Redefine Hospitality: It sounds antithetical but, in their efforts to make everyone feel “like a local,” perhaps hotel brands should be taking a look at The Curtain and Karl Lagerfeld Hotels, seeing how the private club model could work for them.

Longer Flights Have Hong Kong Airlines Rethinking Customer Experience: We’d love to see an airline rethink the business class experience. Perhaps one might retire all the fluff, like the multi-course attempts at fine dining, served on tablecloths. But people apparently like the business class pageantry, so it sticks around, even on new entrants, like Hong Kong Airlines.

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Skift Business Travel Editor Andrew Sheivachman [as@skift.com] curates the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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Photo Credit: A promotional photo for Marriott International's Four Points by Sheraton brand. Expense management technology providers are working on ways to make expense reporting nearly automatic. Marriott International