In 2018, a GBTA report identified that more than 35 million business trips were taken in and around Canada. As prices continue to rise and in-person meetings remain essential, travel buyers and program managers are continuously looking at tactics to improve corporate travel and expense management – an area known to be challenging and complex for organizations to control.
Although corporate travel has a lot of moving parts and unpredictable variables, these are 3 ways your organization can improve spend and optimize your T&E budget.
1. Have a Detailed and Enforceable Travel Policy in Place
Does your organization have a detailed travel policy in place? If so, how often is it being updated? A comprehensive travel policy lays the foundation for a successful travel program, providing your travellers with essential guidance and direction so they understand what they can book, how to handle their expenses, and much more.
These are a few of the essential elements to include in your company travel policy.
Travel Booking: What Are Your Travellers Allowed to Book and How Should They Do It?
Your travel policy should answer all the questions your travellers may have about what they can and cannot book. For example:
- What suppliers should they use?
- Are they allowed to book business class? What about premium economy?
- Are there rules for how many days in advance a trip must be booked?
- Do you allow shared economy services?
- What’s the maximum budget per night?
- Who is responsible for payment?
And most importantly, your travel policy should indicate how travellers should book, clearly outlining the approved booking channels and how to access them.
Expense Management: What Expenses Are Allowed and Who is Paying for Them?
Your travellers will also need direction about how to handle the expenses incurred on their business trip, such as food and beverage, ground transportation, phone charges, and more.
If your travellers use a corporate credit card, your travel policy will need to provide guidance on what they can and cannot use it for. If they are using their personal credit card, they need to know how to properly capture and report on their expenses for reimbursement.
Employees can have a lot of questions when it comes to business travel and a well-defined policy will help them feel prepared, while supporting the agreements you have in place and the parameters you’ve mandated to control spend.
2. Automate Expense Management
As your travel policy outlines the parameters for spending, an automated expense solution will streamline the process for your travellers to report their expenses, improving productivity and accuracy. Traditional approaches, involving physical receipts and spreadsheets, are cumbersome for any traveller and even more so for road warriors who perform many of their tasks on a mobile device. Furthermore, these manual systems leave a lot of room for error, creating challenges for your finance department and restricting the visibility you have into your spend.
Today, there are a number of robust solutions available to support both your travel and expense management objectives. As you consider solutions for your organization's needs, give thought to the analytics and reporting capabilities you require to gain visibility into your spend and also the user-friendly experience you want to offer your travellers.
3. Leverage Technology to Improve Traveller Compliance
Without the buy-in and compliance of your travellers, it’s easy for your travel program objectives to be derailed, including the parameters you have in place to control spend. Technology plays a major role because it directly impacts the traveller's experience.
Before you consider making any changes to your travel and expense technology, focus on the end user – your travellers – and determine what their needs are as well. Every aspect of this presents an opportunity to foster engagement with your employees, from making their travel plans to reporting on their expenses. For the technology you already have in place, such as an online booking tool or mobile app, find out how satisfied your travellers are and benchmark your current adoption rates to determine where there is room for improvement.
In addition, a gamification solution could also be an asset to your travel program, improving both cost control and compliance.