Chapter 1: Review Your Business Travel Cost
- Getting back on the road? Make sure to keep your business travel costs low
With the newer travel technology, it’s easier to find cheaper airlines, hotels, and business class flights.
Here are some ways to shore up your costs during planning.
Make Sure You’re Not Overspending
Business travel expenses account for some of the most noticeable costs within the accounting sheets of many corporations.
Even with a budget, spending can be hard to control with changing circumstances throughout the year.
Saving money is also a tightrope where you balance spending and employee satisfaction.
They expect corporate-sponsored trips to have proper meals, accommodation, and transportation.
Applying the best practices and customising solutions to fit your company will take time, but a process that’s worth the trouble.
To control expenses and find the most value, you must organise the travel process and how employees handle the budget.
A plan will help anchor your spending and likely set up travel at a lesser cost.
Most events throughout the year are scheduled well in advance, meaning you have the time to prepare for them.
When planning your trips, don’t look at them one at a time. Instead, take the entire calendar and plot the travels that your employees are likely to take.
You’ll be able to estimate the annual budget needed for your employees.
You’ll have more confidence if you’re the company that gives annual travel budgets instead of during the trip.
Of course, things will likely go beyond your expectations.
An emergency meeting or opportunity may arise, straying you from your initial plans.
It'll help you control spending and leave room for flexibility.
Introduce a Central Travel Management Tool
Companies had to track documents and receipts to tally travel expenses in the past.
It's a time-consuming process and one that many employees aren’t inclined to follow.
One can also use a company credit card to tally expenses, especially since they come from reports.
However, without any details, things can get vague fast.
There is no space for the employee to tell the reason for the expense and the people involved.
Companies circumvent this through a central travel management tool mandatory for all employees.
Apps are a reliable way to track spending without relying on clumps of paper.
For example, an employee can take pictures of receipts and add details on the app.
The company can then review the information later.
These apps are a great way to centralise information on one platform and create a standard for everyone to follow.
These also come with a way to collate data into reports that provide further insights into your travel expenses.
Ensure Travel Policy Compliance
The travel policy details related expenses when employees represent your interests elsewhere.
A policy will help report any spending they come during their business travel.
It also gives companies a realistic look at the expenses they go through.
Couple that with a centralised travel tool and you have a way to track everything, thanks to your employees.
You can use the policy to set limits to avoid employees splurging on an expensive five-star hotel if it isn't necessary.
Make it a point to spread the word, especially if a trip is nearing.
Some employees make assumptions and don’t check any updates from the travel policy if you’ve made any changes.
Another thing you should be looking at is incentives.
To help ensure that employees comply with the policy, reward those who can stay on budget.
They’ll be more eager to fulfil the requirements to help control your travel expenses.
Save Time and Money with Technology
With technology, it’s easier to compare one company to another.
There are websites today that help you view prices side by side.
Since the airline, accommodation, and transport prices can vary, you need to find the best options available.
Saving money may mean booking two one-way tickets or getting a hotel that’s a train stop away from the event venue.
It was hard in the past to get this information without spending too much time.
Today, all you need is a click of a button, and you have all the information on a page.
Don’t be afraid to use tools, services, and websites to your advantage.
Keep Your Team Safe
Even though it’s been two years since the onset of the global pandemic, safety is still a concern.
Not only do we still have a threat of diseases, but many risks are involved with constant travel.
You need to account for possibilities like extreme weather and accidents, minimising them.
Don’t be afraid to spend more if it means that your team will be safe during a trip.
Losing one because of an accident will affect your company and its morale.
Your company can shoulder insurance, and you can also partner with companies with a reputation for being safe.
Be aware of any issues arising from locations.
If there is a conflict, you may want to consider suspending or cancelling the trip altogether.
It can help you save money while preventing your people from getting into unnecessary risk.
- Planning your trips will give you an idea of the spending and set an expected travel budget.
- Apps and tools are a way to centralise information, making it easy for employees to comply with the policy.
- One way to encourage compliance is by providing incentives to employees.
- Technology allows us to view all possible options faster, helping us narrow our expenses and choose the best price points.
- Don’t be afraid to change the plan and spend more if it means keeping your people safe from harm.
Chapter 2: Travel Expense Management
- How efficient is your corporate travel expense management?
It’s no secret that travel expense management is the key to a company’s financial health.
Companies are expanding their reach across borders, and more people travel outside their home country.
The need for a robust system to meet business demands is now increasing.
Here are some questions you should answer when it comes to corporate travel expenses:
Do you have real-time visibility into travel expenses?
Getting information about your travel expenses helps in making adjustments and adaptations.
Even after all the preparation and organisation your company has placed on travel, it may still be far from its best condition.
No one plan fits every company.
Spending trends often occur, and you’ll notice them as you get more information about your trips.
Knowing there is one of the benefits of being rigorous with your policy and tracking.
As you get more information about recent travel, you’ll find what categories take up most of the money.
Getting data in real-time will allow you to adjust during the year.
For example, if you discovered trends during your first two quarters.
You can change your budget for Q3 and Q4 to help the team.
Do your travellers have control and autonomy?
Autonomy can be a double-edged sword when it comes to travel expenses.
While the flexibility gives more leeway for employees to use their insight and experience, it can also cost the company more.
Many corporations find a way to mix their control and autonomy.
For example, a company may set up all the other expenses like transportation and accommodation in advance.
However, other expenses like meals may have more flexibility.
Do your travellers need to pay their expenses up front?
Many corporations use a reimbursement system to help in case there are some unforeseen expenses.
In these scenarios, the traveller will have to pay upfront.
They will then ask for reimbursements after the trip.
An alternative is to provide them with a company credit card to handle these extra business expenses.
However, you’ll have to be careful with the limits, as they may exceed the budget.
Do your travellers fill in their expense reports?
Expense reports are crucial to understanding spending trends.
It'll allow you to make adjustments on the fly.
That’s why getting a centralised tool or app is essential for employees.
How long does it take for your office managers to gather all invoices?
Getting reports and invoices should be a seamless process.
Don’t be afraid to leverage technology, as many programs make this step easier.
Do your travellers need to wait long for their reimbursement?
Having an easy reimbursement process will keep your employees happy and give them confidence.
Review your reimbursement policy and make sure that it’s easy to follow.
You want to ensure they get their money back as early as possible.
- Business travel expense management is crucial to a company’s financial health
- Autonomy can be a double-edged sword, providing more flexibility but may cost you more.
- A reimbursement system can be good for unforeseen expenses. However, you must ensure that you have a fast process that returns the employee their money as soon as possible.
Chapter 3: Measuring Your Travel Program’s ROI
- Is your corporate travel budget investment or an expense?
Measuring ROI for a travel program can be challenging but doable.
There are some common ways companies measure their returns.
However, pitfalls can happen, and you’ll need to know how to avoid them.
Understand Your Company’s Overall Goal and the Trips’ KPIs
The first thing you need to know to determine a travel budget’s worth is to compare it with your overall goal.
Since you are optimising your corporate travel budget, what would be the reason?
Are you looking for more profit or looking to save money?
Your goal will be the anchor that also determines the key performance indicators (KPI) that you’ll need to measure performance.
KPIs are vital because they quantify the program, allowing you to measure it.
Some KPIs may include:
- Savings and discounts
- Current rates
- Unused flights and accommodation
- Auxiliary expenses
- And many more
Set Up the Right Data Tracking and Reporting system
From there, you want to be able to track and get reports of these travels as soon as possible.
That’s why a platform like an app works best to update on expenses in real-time.
When everyone is using the same program, you’ll be able to see how spending occurs.
It'll also be able to provide reports which will give you graphics and insights into current expenditures.
Modern software will track this and even have things like artificial intelligence to help update data in real-time.
Standardise How You Measure ROI
It’s crucial that once you have your metrics and a way to calculate returns, you stick to them for the long term.
Changing these metrics, like adding, can give you a blurred picture of your ROI.
You won’t be able to make optimised movements to ensure that you are maximising your business travel budget.
Set the standard and let everyone in the company know your metrics.
It'll allow them to understand and be aware of what they need to report.
You’ll get all the relevant information related to measuring ROI, allowing you to see a better picture.
Measuring Both Direct and Indirect Impact
Using the numbers to measure its direct impact on your company will determine if your optimisation is working.
For example, if you see that you saved 10% more of the budget when you began using a specific app, you can say that it had a direct impact.
On the other hand, the indirect impact has to do with things that are affected in other parts of your budget and company.
If you overspend the budget, you are taking money from somewhere else.
An unoptimized travel budget may lower the budget meant for marketing or other programs.
- Remember to set a goal to understand how to measure your ROI.
- Creating a reliable tracking and reporting system will allow you to make efficient adjustments.
- Standardise your metrics across the board to give you a complete idea of the impact of your travel budget decisions.
Chapter 4: Automate Your Corporate Travel Policy
- Why you should automate your corporate travel policy
Business travel can be challenging, and following a document can feel like a nightmare. It can get frustrating, complicated, and time-consuming.
Recently, the better way to handle these situations is through automating the corporate travel policy.
Automating can reduce costs and also proves to improve compliance. It becomes a streamlined process that travellers can follow.
No More Mishaps
A tool that automates your policy will reduce the chances of human error.
There will be fewer people that will miss out on vital information, increasing their chances of compliance.
The results speak for themselves as companies with an automated travel policy report around a 95% average compliance rate.
Employees have fewer questions and confusion about it.
They’ll also have easy access to the information when they have a question in their mind.
An automated policy is essential when they’re considering making any financial decisions.
They’ll know how to book, what to do, and what to avoid.
Work Seamlessly and Effortlessly
Automatic travel policies will help guide a traveller’s decisions wherever they are.
You’ll see how they cover vital information, such as:
- Where to book
- How to process expenses
- What flights are allowed
- How much they can spend on a hotel
- How much they can use on rentals
- Flight budget
- And more
Traditional policies are always inside an internal wiki in the system or a lengthy HR booklet.
Automation allows employees to see the information they need at a glance.
A Safer, Faster, and Better Travel Experience
Employees are supposed to read policies, but many choose to ignore them. Integrating it into your system helps you clarify things as they process their business travel.
For example, it can say they’re over the budget if they’re looking at hotels for their next trip.
It’s a powerful tool that’s much better than a lengthy email.
It can also help automate travel approval, and you have the freedom to set the strictness of your policies.
- An automated policy works within a tool that guides travellers as they look for their travel options.
- Instead of a lengthy booklet, the travel policy will provide relevant information fast.
- Automated policies increase compliance to 95%, helping companies stay within their budget.
Chapter 5: Corporate Travel Culture
- Corporate Travel Culture – What Do Corporations Want?
When it comes to corporate travel, the question becomes, what does the company need?
Does your company have a corporate travel culture?
You could end up spending more than you think without it.
Here are some ways to use travel culture to save money and involve your people.
Defining a Corporate Travel Culture
Back then, it was the office that defined corporate culture.
Structures bound companies and the feelings they evoked for their clients visiting.
Today, with travel returning, it has become the driving factor.
It comes with this shift into hybrid work that most of the world now becomes accustomed to having.
People are now used to working remotely at home, meeting away from office spaces, and travelling to fulfil goals.
A travel culture allows employees to feel that they are part of something.
They are driven towards a goal and feel engaged with work.
In travel corporate culture, there is more of how a company sees and presents itself during these endeavours.
It’s all about creating experiences and connecting to places outside the office space.
The Different Types of Culture
There are four main types of corporate culture, which can also translate to how the company approaches business travel.
Looking at them will help you decide on what to focus on when building the foundation for your goals.
- Clan: A focus on collaboration and teamwork. These companies tend to have a lot of trips focused on building relationships and raising company morale. It tries to break the barriers between the executives and the employees.
- Hierarchy: A hierarchy culture is one of the more traditional ones in companies. There are several management levels and a specific way to do things. These companies tend to be more conservative, with reliable processes.
- Adhocracy: This culture is focused on finding new things, innovations, and taking risks. You often see this attitude in startup companies where there is encouragement to go beyond boundaries. These companies take their actions to more creative lengths and are open to ideas from their workforce.
- Market: In a market culture, the company focuses on profit primarily. They want to take opportunities that they’ll know will lead to results. As such, you often hear about targets and quotas, with higher demand for performance.
How to Develop a Corporate Travel Culture
Creating a corporate travel culture means focusing on one of these cultures towards your goal.
From there, you begin shaping an image and a process for how you go about travelling.
For example, in an adhocracy, you tend to give more autonomy to employees and encourage them to help with travel-related decisions.
A developed travel culture creates a foundation that allows your direction to thrive.
Your employees understand what travelling is about and how to approach it.
Having tools that make travel intuitive and easy to manage will also improve culture significantly.
A lot about it builds a solid foundation, from having automated policies to a reliable way to report on travel metrics.
It’s also about using the latest technology and strategies to make it a better experience for the company.
The Benefits of Developing a Corporate Travel Culture
A corporate travel culture translates to results.
Business performance will increase, and companies also report more collaboration in the workforce.
Travel culture is now a key factor helping in managing business units globally, especially in today’s remote-focused world.
Apart from these, developing one also helps unify a business despite the location. It can create better relationships with one another and their clients.
Overall, it's in your best interest to develop it.
The Challenges of Developing a Corporate Travel Culture
The biggest impediment to corporate travel culture development is effective management.
Companies must learn how to optimise travel and expenses.
It’s also about convincing executives about the importance of developing a travel culture.
A lack of interest in the field usually leads to a subpar application.
Executives need to see the data and how travel can positively affect the company to avoid misunderstandings.
They must also have a reliable way to see the results.
Clarifying processes will be the way to ensure that one is getting the desired results.
- Developing a corporate travel culture ultimately leads to better overall business performance.
- One of the biggest impediments to development is travel and expense management.
- A corporate travel culture works very well in today’s remote and global environment.
Leveraging modern technology in line with the shift of today’s work culture is one of the best ways to optimise your process.
For corporate travel budgets, having an adaptable strategy can lead to fewer instances of overspending.
Building a solid corporate culture and surrounding it with reliable tools can lead to profit.