Article | February 12, 2020
The internet is littered with the bodies of companies unable to adapt when Big Tech moved to offer a service for free. Possibly the most famous example in tech history remains Microsoft’s decision in 1996 to give away its browser Internet Explorer bringing Netscape’s skyrocketing share price to an abrupt halt. The rest is history. Although Google’s recent decision to stop charging for leads to airlines and OTAs in Google Flights might look insignificant in comparison, it is sending shockwaves across the travel industry. To understand why, it is important to understand Google Flights’ weight in the airline distribution ecosystem.
Article | February 12, 2020
The travel industry is getting back to business, and demand has skyrocketed for travel technologies that make interactions possible between companies and corporate travelers. A recent Gartner survey reveals how 2020 affected CFOs with their corporate travel and expense management tasks globally.
How will finance teams report and forecast expenses? How can corporate travel costs be managed? How to manage travel expense management processes effortlessly? Does this sound familiar to you? These were a few valid questions that kept companies engaged in finding answers during the pandemic.
Many finance leaders want to implement proper corporate travel and expense management services and find solutions to bring consistency and clarity to their financial processes. While switching from manual processes to automated management systems can be difficult post-pandemic, with an efficient travel and expense management tool or software, your company can gain optimum benefits and stay productive in the future. This article will show you how it evolved through the coronavirus phase efficiently.
Adoption of T&E Management Process for Seamless Work Experience
An American Express survey found that 55% of the chief executives and senior financial managers ranked rising travel and expense costs as a top concern during the peak pandemic phase.
Digital transformation of your processes is a critical strategy for spend management, and it ensures that employees are using the right product to get the best value. By adopting an efficient travel and expense management tool, your company can gain stellar benefits for your finance team to cater varied requirements, and keep a rigorous control over corporate travel spend.
Before looking into how travel expense management processes are evolving post-pandemic, here are the benefits and value travel and expense management solutions offer. Also, this will further facilitate your finance team to manage the current corporate travel scenario effectively.
Benefits of Travel and Expense Management Solutions
The travel and expense management didn’t disappear during the pandemic. Instead, it accelerated its core value. The idea of integrating travel and expense management services with the help of big data in the travel industry is to leverage best practices for travel expense management that can help analyze and extract key information to diverse corporate travel finance functions.
Travel industry leaders who are integrating effective travel expense management services in their corporate travel system have experienced the following benefits:
Automatic processes of expenditure
Data-driven decisions are smarter
Ability to forecast more accurately
Delivers better user experience
Quick access to integrated data from expenditures
Gain deep data visibility
Higher rate of compliance with corporate policies in finance
These significant upticks will benefit your company and will simultaneously improve your corporate travel policies. Understanding these benefits will help you identify how travel technology can help your company manage complex financial tasks that arose during the pandemic.
According to a Gartner survey, a travel expense management system is essential as a key solution to manage the corporate travel economy. Any company, big or small, needs to control its expenditure to recover during the pandemic.
Complex Forms of T&E Management Are Gone
Legacy processes may get a job done, but they are more time consuming, error-prone, and do not provide visibility into travel spend. And when your travel and expense management process is slow and cumbersome, it can slow down the growth trajectory of your business.
Corporate travel and expense management automation and its associated features like corporate travel policy, quick and easy booking, automated expense and reimbursement solutions, live credit card feeds, backup analytics capabilities, and more have taken precedence post-pandemic. These services offer more visibility into the travel spend of your employees. With top travel and expense management solutions, your finance teams can monitor and control costs and expenses in the long run.
While many corporate travelers have started researching and organizing trips online, you need to add value to financial services by adopting automated travel and expense management solutions that work effortlessly.
Core Focus Areas of Travel and Expense Management
The post-pandemic era has seen a lot of companies embracing new and updated travel and expense management solutions to drive cost savings, and enable finance teams to have a better control over their road warriors. Here are some:
Contactless Data Record Is the next Big Thing
Travel and expense management systems allow employees to record all corporate travel bills and receipts through mobile apps and create expense reports immediately. Big data in the travel industry has played a significant role during the pandemic. Technology leaders have already experienced the benefits of travel and expense management.
For example, TripActions’ travel and expense management platform uses data to learn about business travelers’ preferences, and predicts within 30 seconds what travelers are going to book with 90% accuracy. The advantage of big data to travel and expense management has already organized several effortless finance processes for corporate travelers to experience seamless budgets.
Automation Is Crucial
Integrating travel and expense management solutions could easily add to the unimaginable overheads that companies are experiencing. Automation is one of these solutions. Its integration in the travel and expense management system will give rise to a paperless world that will facilitate finance functions to build an audit trail. With this, it also ensures total compliance to keep the organization and its process fast.
Agile Technology Is the Enabler
Critically for the travel industry, agile technology has allowed multiple methodologies for incremental development in corporate travels, which has transformed the processes from rigid to flexible. The agile process in corporate travel and expense management allows analyzing tangible results on expense. The approach also provides the potential to change plans according to the requirements.
For example, Lola.com, the agile travel management company is helping corporate travelers book, re-book, and take the task of expense reports off the table easily. Finance teams arrange travel policies in minutes and equally manage, control, and view expenditure effortlessly. In short, agile technology is making it much easier for travelers and companies all round.
To address the use of agile technology in travel and expense management, Jeanne Hopkins, former CMO at Lola.com, the agile travel management company shares
“Finance teams at Lola.com have tried managing, controlling, and got visibility into expenditures efficiently by implementing travel and expense management. Small and mid-sized businesses have to be fast and dynamic in the changing scenario of travel, so that actions like booking, re-booking, and managing corporate travel could be performed with efficiency and results in high productivity.”
A Hassle-free Expense Management System
Expense has been one common challenge with corporate travel programs. Integrating travel and expense management in your company can eventually introduce you to a hassle-free work solution. As the process involves collecting receipts from multiple sources, either from hotels, flights, or car rentals, travel and expense management solutions make it easier for a manager to look at all corporate travel costs at once. Also, in terms of future travel spend and potential savings, the capability of this management remains exceptional. Modern travel and expense management solutions also include self-service, real time, and easy navigation.
For example, for travelers, Lola.com has a large inventory of flights and hotels that allow users to avoid going to various sites to compare fares, and save preferences, loyalty programs, and provides payment options in one place. Traveler profiles are automatically stored so that users can book with one click. The 24/7 support team then ensures easy booking and re-booking for its users without any delay.
End-to-End Integration Is the New Order of Workforce
End-to-end integrated systems in your company will help your finance team implement best practices for travel expense management. This will make it easier for your employees to initiate, approve, and pay each transaction out of hundreds within minutes, thereby creating a seamless task without any manual involvement.
Travel and Expense Management Trends
When you automate your travel and expense process, it will not only maximize your returns but, at the same time, it will minimize your spending. This will save you both time and money. Below are the reasons you will want to consider making a switch to automate from a manual process.
Remove Guess Work from Expense Process
For finance personnel in your company, the new travel and expense management system can be set up in five minutes. One of the travel and expense management tools, like Expensify, helps with easy expense tracking and reporting. Similar to this, SpendCatcher – a mobile application of MobileXpense.com that is infused with AI and deep machine learning extracts payment information with just one tap.
Companies whose employees use a corporate travel and expense management system can receive reports according to department, employee, direct travel supplier, hotel, or car rental company. This information helps managers analyze spending patterns by actively monitoring it with up-to-date information in one flow from various travel suppliers.
In this case, Concur TripLink connects to corporate travelers for direct bookings across the borders. It gives visibility of bookings no matter where it is booked.
True Visibility into Spending
The corporate travel and expense report management system automatically flags and creates analyses of dashboards highlight hidden expenditure. This can be helpful to know:
How much expenditure is going in personal corporate travel cards, and why
Find expense categories easily
Find out why expense is falling short and ask for details
In this context, MasterCard International is rapidly approaching towards a smart, web-based expense management system to control spending, generate comprehensive spending reports, and accurately integrate purchase data. Thus, delivering business efficiently, quickly, and easily.
Rise of Bleisure Travel
Corporate travel and expense management also includes ‘bleisure travel’ for corporate travelers, those looking to combine business travel with leisure time. With agile travel and expense management tools, you can make quick changes in plans to keep your employees and finance team happy and productive while mapping the budget. In this case, Lola.com has made travel and expense management real by providing an effortless way to manage, book, and report on business plus leisure travel, by encouraging its employers to save most of their time and money.
Travel technology offers a deserving platform with travel and expense management to companies for added efficiency and visibility over travel spend. As corporate travel businesses are returning rapidly towards their regular work scenarios, the travel industry will see a rise in revenue. Travel and expense management system will be one of the powerful remedies to the travel industry and will increase its scope to drive growth post-pandemic.
According to the new Skift report, 88% of corporate travelers will drive travel technology company growth. 86% of corporate travel managers believe it. Put an end to complex budget management and legacy processes; it is time to know how to manage travel expenses in corporate.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is travel and expense process?
The aim of the travel and expense process is the complete administration of travel expenses, including the recording of expenses, posting in Financial Accounting (FI), and allocation in Controlling (CO) and Funds Management (FI-FM). The process also involves the valuation of costs associated with business-related activities.
Why is expense management important?
Expense management is important for businesses because it helps employees to keep an accurate track of expenses. This caters to them to plan financial aspects for the future with more clarity and confidence. Capital flow is a daily process in any business, so to manage some significant amounts could get efficiently done through expense management and generate a profit.
What is travel and expense management?
Travel and expense management is a process that includes finance management by the employee when on a business trip or any expense is made for business goals. Each travel and expense management consists of detailed records of costs, expenditure, budgeting, and report submission.
Article | February 12, 2020
As COVID-19 wreaks havoc across the globe, tourism-dependent regions are suffering exponentially. The continent of Africa is one glaring example, with South Africa propelled into the global top 10 for coronavirus infections, reportedly now surpassing the United Kingdom in cases. For its part, the tourism and industrial sectors in North Africa will likely be hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the African Development Bank’s 2020 edition North Africa Economic Outlook report.
Even as Africa contends with pandemic concerns, there are still throngs of travelers who are keen to visit the region in the near future. Many are doing diligence to discern if, when and how to go about scheduling a trip to this tourism hotspot.
To help spotlight some top-line issues, I turned to entrepreneur and philanthropist Jay Cameron, Executive Director of Maximum Impact Travel. As one of the leading global experts on Africa travel and commerce, Cameron’s insights are invaluable as travelers deal with this tumultuous situation, helping ensure they plan smartly in the post-pandemic era.
MK: What are the key do’s and don’ts when traveling to Africa amid COVID-19?
JC: Surprisingly, some African countries have escaped the devastating impacts COVID-19 has caused globally. While other countries around the world have experienced often overwhelming consequences as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, much of Africa appears to have been spared. Even so, the statistics do not suggest the citizens of the countries of Africa have not felt its impact. The fact is, many countries in Africa are seeing regular increases in the numbers of those infected by the novel coronavirus, while much of the world is experiencing a decline in infections.
Around the world, experts warn outbreaks of COVID-19 in Africa may continue, resulting in a higher rate of deaths due to the limited local health services available. With coronavirus worries come fears of potential famine due to the virus threat, in combination with existing drought conditions and ongoing conflicts.
With this in mind, should you intend to travel to the continent now, or post-COVID-19, you should be prepared. Some good preparedness ideas include researching virus statistics in the country you wish to visit that, for one, you can review at AfricaNews.com. It is also advisable to learn if said country has any travel restrictions, which is information that is accessible online via at CDC.gov. Of course, maintaining a healthy lifestyle to boost immunity before and during your visit is also key.
MK: Should travelers be ready to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, either before departing or upon arrival?
JC: African countries are now opening for foreign travelers, but this does not indicate the belief that they have won the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Most African countries are still battling with COVID-19 outbreaks, as the number of infected cases continues to rise daily in nearly every African country. To this end, stringent efforts are in place to ensure individuals arriving on the continent and entering various countries are free of the virus.
With this in mind, you should be prepared to present proof of negative COVID-19 status before entering the country to which you are traveling. This measure is being implemented around the globe and the countries of Africa are no exception.
In the same vein, departing any African country will require the same proof of negative COVID-19 status. Both mandates are in place to protect your fellow travelers on the flight as well as the residents of the country to which you are traveling. As things ebb and flow, you can check the status of this mandate online at AfricaTravelInc.com.
MK: What would you suggest about localized regulations?
JC: Travelers must research the localized regulations and requirements with respect to hotel and resorts, airports, ground transportation, public spaces and such for both their own country and their destination.. It is necessary that you understand departure rules from your country of origin, and even more important that you understand your destination country’s prevailing laws for foreign travelers regarding COVID-19. Some African countries like Tanzania and Zambia, for example, have mandated the use of face masks in public places with punishment for the contravention of such laws. Some hotels and resorts also have taken stringent measures and issued their own strict requirements for travelers arriving from foreign countries. For example, at this time, hotel bars in Rwanda are closed but the hotels themselves remain open.
Researching and understanding these laws before traveling enables you to stay safe during your visit and steer clear of legal issues with the local authorities. A helpful resource for staying up-to-date on laws that might affect travel to Africa can be found at Travel.State.gov.
MK: What about the airlines, specifically?
JC: Investigate the requirements for your airline as each carrier has varied responses to COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, most airlines have adopted measures to keep their passengers and their staff safe. While some airlines like Delta require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding your flight, others provide testing before your flight and attach the result to your ticket. Therefore, to ensure you are able to fly when scheduled, it is your responsibility to know the requirements of your airline before the flight to avoid any issues. A good resource for this is Go2Africa.com.
MK: Should tourists be prepared for temperature screenings and COVID-19 tests upon arrival and departure?
JC: As pointed out earlier, many African countries are still battling the pandemic, so to keep the residents of their countries safe post-COVID-19, airports have been mandated to request test results or test passengers on-site. Therefore, when traveling, you should be prepared for a coronavirus test upon arrival or departure from any African country. If you refuse to allow this, you will not be able to fly.
MK: What about a potential 14-day quarantine upon arrival—is that only for travelers who show signs of COVID-19?
JC: Apart from testing, be prepared for a 14-day quarantine if you show signs of the virus or test positive during a test given at the airport. African countries are determined to ensure the pandemic is eliminated completely from their countries. If you show symptoms of the virus upon your arrival in any country in Africa, you will likely be quarantined for 14 days. This can even entail having to stay in the country instead of returning to the U.S.
MK: Would you say that travel insurance is an imperative?
JC: Make sure your travel insurance company offers COVID-19 coverage and arrange for COVID-19 travel insurance requirements from airlines. You will want to be insured by your travel insurance company for COVID-19 coverage before traveling to any African country. Check with your travel insurance company to ensure COVID-19 is covered under their insurance policy, in the event you need to change your travel plans due to the pandemic. Such coverage policy can protect you by covering expenses related to unexpected changes and/or medical care in the event of illness.
MK: With any trip, but especially now, there can be unforeseen circumstances. Any insights on that front?
JC: DO NOT travel without extra funds and the ability to extend your trip in the event of a quarantine. With the points mentioned above, there is a great likelihood you will be required to spend more time and money in the country to which you are traveling if your COVID-19 test is positive. As a result, it is advisable to travel only if you are prepared with time and financial contingency plans. However, African countries are not barring U.S. travelers at the same rate as other countries, meaning you can potentially realize your dream safari vacation or other adventure across the continent’s beaches, jungles and deserts.
As the world contends with COVID-19 issues, African countries will endeavor to stay open for tourism, business and much more. Preparing for, and abiding by, the region’s travel requirements will make your journey and overall stay in the country more enjoyable and safer for all.
Article | February 12, 2020
As the effort to contain COVID-19 drives countries to close their borders and airlines to ground fleets, the corporate travel management community remains on the front line of getting people home or to their place of work. As much as most consumers can only watch the situation as it changes hour by hour, travel management companies must react to those changes. Fahim Khan, product development director for TMC Reed & Mackay, says that right now while there is not much new travel being booked, there are still bookings to be managed. “There’s still quite a bit of volume for us in terms of refunds and making sure people are able to change. There’s also quite a bit of engagement from an account management point of view as we look to advise on what we’re seeing in the industry.