AI Takes Flight: Elevating Corporate Travel with Navan

AI Takes Flight: Elevating Corporate Travel with Navan

At Premji Invest, we are excited to partner with companies that we believe have uncommon potential. By nature of our evergreen and long duration capital base, we make incredibly selective, long-term investment decisions, focusing on companies that offer enduring value, and can thrive in the public markets.

In mid-2022, we led the Series G round for Navan, the all-in-one travel, corporate card, and expense management solution. Navan exemplifies a durable business with massive potential, and we are thrilled to be on this journey with them.

Corporate travel has been a frustrating necessity for travelers, finance leaders, and businesses since the days of the traveling salesman, with little to no innovation and change to make anyone’s lives easier or more efficient. Furthermore, the very nature of travel constantly changes in response to global pandemics, workforce distribution, and business needs.

Navan, leveraging the capabilities of AI and having been focused on the product and distribution of corporate travel, as well as customer support and the efficient frontier of travel, card, and expense, has been able to thrive in a challenging environment. The Navan platform is Concur redone, and reimagined into a seamless and unprecedented travel booking and expense management experience. The headache of booking and managing business travel has finally come to an end!

With the return to business travel accelerating and the future of travel constantly evolving, we couldn’t be more excited to support Navan as they change the landscape of corporate travel.  

AI at the Core

It is with little doubt that artificial intelligence is on the top of every consumer’s expectation, and at the forefront of every company’s development path. Travel, card, and expense management capabilities will fundamentally be enhanced by AI given its complexity, micro-decisions, and customization, and Navan is leading the charge here on that. We're excited to share how we believe Navan is changing the landscape through three phases: (1) retrospective, (2) proactive, and (3) re-imagined.  

1. Retrospective Intelligence: A Comprehensive Overview of Travel and Card Spend

Navan's intelligent platform empowers travel managers with the ability to gain real-time insights into travel expenditure. Leaders can effortlessly track how much is spent on airfare, which parts of an organization are most out-of-policy, and who is driving those exemption requests. Prepackaged dashboards provide adoption and satisfaction rates amongst employees, metrics showcasing dollars saved relative to the average hotel, and insights into what drives spend.

By aggregating and analyzing data from various sources, Navan provides a succinct summary of travel spend and enables businesses to identify trends, anomalies, and potential cost-saving opportunities. These analysis and reports are table-stakes in offering a retrospective look into an organization's travel spend.

2. Proactive Curation: Crafting Customized Trip Itineraries

Next, we consider how Navan empowers the next trip with their ability to curate customized trip itineraries based on individual traveler preferences and schedules, as well as company-specific and role-specific policies. By tapping into an array of data sources, including traveler preferences, past itineraries, and real-time availability, Navan can suggest optimal travel arrangements that align with both cost considerations and traveler comfort, ensuring that the myriad of preferences is accounted for.

Furthermore, it wouldn’t be corporate travel if schedules or plans didn’t change, and Navan has built a wide variety of tools to solve for planned and unplanned deviations, ranging from automating changes to enabling back-end agents with super-charged tools to find alternatives for travelers.

When booking travel through Navan, their platform has context on the traveler for both future and ongoing trips. It knows travel preferences and gives recommendations tailored to needs.  Consider the convenience of a system that not only books flights and hotels but also takes into account a traveler's dietary preferences, frequent flyer status, preferred seating arrangements, early or late flight. Navan's ability to proactively customize and personalize trips minimizes the likelihood of booking errors and ensures that travelers are not only productive during their trips but also comfortable and satisfied.

3. Rebuilding the Stack: Navan's Potential Impact

Even from a year ago, we saw the potential for a new technology stack that would bring new capabilities to life, ones that could not be architected without some critical developments around AI and integrated development environment. And we recognized how Navan, with its scale, customer base, and user-base, could be uniquely positioned to enable these new capabilities.

The foundation of the product is built upon AI infrastructure, which opens up a world of possibilities for Navan to seamlessly integrate with various aspects of the booking app ecosystem. From fetching weather forecasts to booking on third-party providers, Navan does all the work without a single line of code from their customers' development team.

By leveraging its AI infrastructure, Navan could bridge gaps, reduce friction, and enhance the end-to-end travel experiences. They are inventing a new booking application and there is no going back!

Business Travel, Corporate Card and Expense Management Platform

The combination of travel, card, and expense management has allowed Navan to revolutionize the travel experience for employees and company administrators by bringing the deepest inventory at the lowest prices through a simplified policy-compliant booking process. Through Navan's wide GDS and deep NDC integrations, an employee receives an inventory of flights and hotels, as well as customized combo products like lounge and WiFi access. With over 95% of a client’s travel booked through Navan instead of leaked to other travel sites, Navan is able to centralize booking and reconciliation, as well as aggregate spend used for CNR negotiations. With only a few clicks, travel gets booked and documented in a digital trip itinerary.

Navan's credit card and expense management software allows traveling employees to combine booking and expensing travel for the first time. Instead of using their own card, traveling employees can pay for travel and expenses using the Liquid card, including the flight, hotel, incidentals, rideshares, dining, and more. Unifying travel with a corporate card and expense management system unlocks additional synergies that deliver customers with real time control over travel payments and automated reconciliation and reporting.

Massive Market Opportunity

Corporate travel is a $1.4 trillion market that has not seen meaningful innovation in decades. It has historically been served through a lackluster, digital front-end and a slow, analogue back-end agent booking system that left travel managers and employees feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Furthermore, legacy TMCs avoided serving SMB to mid-market companies as they deemed them too difficult and expensive. Recently, industry sources have valued the SMB travel management market at $945B with 71% of SMB companies managing spend on their own and the remainder most likely using legacy technologies. It’s not for the lack of trying that these clients haven’t found the right platform for their needs.

Navan's full stack capability finally solves the legacy travel management and unmanaged spend dilemmas by bringing innovative technologies to empower business travelers.

Where to Next?

Navan has prevailed through times of great uncertainty, all while never ceasing to innovate and create new products and capabilities.

As long-term investors, we invest in companies with a broad vision and with a path forward to winning a massive market. Navan’s capabilities across travel, corporate card, and expense management, within a market that has traditionally been underserved, set them out to be the leader. Navan is writing its own future and bringing enduring value to its customers.

Tested, proven, and polished - we couldn't be more proud of our investment and partner!