Article | July 24, 2023
As every department is going through digital transformation in travel companies, finance processes are no exception. The advancements in technology are influencing how travel expense management is evolving. Technology is widely affecting how travel expenses are captured, submitted, audited, processed, and reimbursed. The automated travel expense management is helping most of the corporate travel companies with inclusion of the latest travel management and expense management tools.
In 2016, the share of corporate travel expense management was US$1.3 trillion; therefore, by 2023, it is predicted to hit US$1.6 trillion. Companies today are rethinking modern travel expense management policy and developing corporate travel expense management system including expense management best practices. They are actively using travel management and expense management tools to create a smoother workflow.
Looking at these developments in expense management policy, it’s important to understand what companies were facing before implementation of automated version of expense management system.
Main Hurdles While Managing Travel and Expense
Multiple layers of forms
Delayed submission of expense reports by employees
Increased processing cost
Lack of visibility into the process
Heaps of productive hours were wasted because of the manual processes involved in the expense management policy. Managing the excel reports and cross-verification for policy compliance resulted in increased costs. Delayed submission of expense reports caused late input tax credit claims, which affected businesses to generate revenue. Consequently, to minimize the hurdles of managing travel expenses, an automated travel expense management system, and some best practices for travel expense management were the need of the hour.
An Overview: Modern Travel Expense Management
Modern travel and expense management systems and its practices help employees manage the financial process in real and measurable ways. The system governs how the finance team spends company money on corporate travel and other related expenses. It includes an automated expense management process, which has drawn attention to seamless receipt generation, auditing, reimbursing, submission of finance reports, and cost savings.
To implement modern travel expense management, some best practices for travel expense management are suggested to help build a consistent workflow. Many corporate travel companies have included it to automate the expense management process but are little aware of practices that can enhance their workflow. In this scenario, it's important to know the importance of including the best practices for travel expense management.
Why Talk about Best Practices for Travel Expense Management?
In the finance department, various types of frauds such as multiple reimbursements, overstated expenses, fictitious expenses, and more always stay at the top of the mind for most CFO’s. A well-controlled travel expense management system helps prevent misuse of company assets and prohibits misconduct from dealing with such situations.
According to the Aberdeen group’s research, 43% of top travel companies and their CMOs consider T&E management a critical strategy for their company to handle travel expenses. In comparison, 48% of them say they “need to reduce expense processing costs,” which is why they implemented best practices for travel expense management.
Whether large or small, companies realize the potential benefits of a well-managed travel spend mechanism that had best practices for travel expense management to automate the expense management process. They invested heavily in expense management software, which helped them frame a consolidated expense management policy.
In the end, corporate travel policy best practices need to be tailored specifically to employees to create best-in-class expense management and improve performance. By following expense management best practices, you can also define and implement an accurate policy and ensure your employees implement potential tools to automate the expense management process. This will create an efficient finance process that will lead to a friction-free travel and expense management system. If you are updating your finance functions, this small expense management guide to the best practices for travel expense management will help you far to reach your goals.
Best Practices for Travel Expense Management
Create Ownership of the Policy
Before you start implementing T&E management as a critical strategy, defining ownership of the policy clearly is crucial. Ideally, your finance team needs to understand it thoroughly while using the best expense management software. Creating ownership of the policy will benefit as follows:
First: You will have clear ownership that will ensure that your finance team tracks the policy accurately and makes necessary changes to cater to corporate travelers and their requirements.
Second: Your employees will be able to address queries and concerns related to corporate travel a defined way. This way it will become easier for them to handle multiple queries at a time and cater to possible services.
Include Simple Policies
Your expense management policy should outline what it is accurately. It can only be practiced if you keep policies simple based on the company’s culture and its budget. Using the right travel management and expense management tools, your company’s travel expense management mechanism will be quick and easy for employees to work on expenses claimed by corporate travelers, submit, and audit them. Including simple policies will help employees track receipts through mobile applications and even upload them immediately. This entire process will help minimize errors and lessen receipt loss possibilities.
Accurate Expense Reporting
To include accurate expense management reporting is considered one of the most successful best practices for travel expense management. Around 30% of CFOs believe that to review expenses reporting for policy violation is the biggest pain point. As you automate the expense management process, the mechanism of expense reporting and expense claim management also gets smarter. There are multiple benefits to have a sound reporting system.
It gives budget creators a better understanding of how a specific travel expense budget is consumed.
Finance teams get a proper structure and create a defined spending pattern to identify transactions so that there are no fraud possibilities in the management system.
The reports under expense reporting become accountable because the total spends are available to senior management for a broad review.
Expense Payments Are Timely Processed
The right expense management software usage can help your employees process expense payments on time and faster to reduce errors. By implementing this expense management best practice, your employees can present expense reports timely to managers. An automated expense management system eliminates the tedious job of manually checking expense payment violations and encourages initiating flawless expense payment processing.
To keep accountability in expense management is vital for a finance manager. The automated travel and expense management system creates an opportunity to enable accountability option for your company’s expense plan so that managers are made aware of the transactions, submission of reports, expense claims, reimbursements, and more that are taking place. In order to gain high accountability in these areas, the new travel expense management process provides easy access to review and gives appropriate reports. You can easily implement this corporate travel policy best practice to your system and keep a check using expense management software that provides access via mobile applications. Practicing this will give your finance team more power and guide them to generate better revenue annually.
Conduct Regular Audits
By implementing this as best practices for your travel and expense management, you can efficiently conduct regular audits of the travel expense. Many CMOs have followed it and attained success while implementing it. Similarly, a regular audit also identifies areas of improvement and can point variances that could generate exemplary revenue. Practicing this in your finance process will also help uncover expense fraud. In this case, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ (ACFE) reveals, 20% of small businesses and 13% of larger firms reported fraudulent expense reimbursements in 2019. The activities that were highlighted as
Multiple reimbursements for the same expense
After putting your time and effort into recreating a new travel and expense management system and inculcating best practices for travel expense management in your company, it is crucial to choose the right ways to enforce it. Consistent use of best practices for travel expense management will let you save costs, and there will be no adverse impact on your company's budget. You can make effective decisions for your business as it eradicates your finance team's hurdles that were before.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a travel and expense policy?
A travel and expense policy is a set of rules that covers the process of reimbursement and claims for expenses that are incurred by employees on corporate travel plans. This policy outlines how a company’s employees should set procedures for corporate travel.
What is business travel management?
Business travel management includes policies that set a company’s function in a strategic way. It includes various types of contracts made with airlines, hotel chains, rental car companies, and other business travel related management services.
What is expense management?
Expense management works according to two key elements—how a business pays for employee-initiated expenses and how to track all employee-initiated spending. In this, management of costs is included mainly for corporate travel, accommodation, meals, flights, and car rentals.
What is expense management automation?
Expense management automation encourages services like collection, storage, submission, reporting to function automatically. It implies the use of analytical tools to help companies maintain accountability and compliance through accurate tracking and reporting process.
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"text": "Expense management automation encourages services like collection, storage, submission, reporting to function automatically. It implies the use of analytical tools to help companies maintain accountability and compliance through accurate tracking and reporting process."
Article | July 18, 2023
Controlling how employees spend company money on travel has been one of the biggest historic challenges for finance teams. Most company spend is governed by purchase orders, with payments made in relation to specific invoices from the company’s own bank. The data is available transparent and can be analyzed to spot any inconsistencies. But controlling travel spend, which is most company’s largest discretionary spend area, is much harder.
Employees increasingly organize their own travel, empowered by corporate self-booking tools for search, booking, and payment. This can help with visibility, particularly if the corporate uses lodge or virtual cards to pay. However, pre-trip spend like air and hotel bookings only represent 50-60% of the money spent on travel. What about the rest?
Article | May 17, 2023
As the impact of COVID-19 subsides, the devasted travel industry appears to be resuming normalcy with increased travel volumes. In addition, emerging tourism trends and technology in the travel industry have offered new possibilities for business travel to redefine itself. The present opportunities available in the travel sector may benefit your firm. However, customer experience in the travel industry has a significant impact on growing long-term loyalty. Providing a positive client experience is a significant problem for many in the travel and tourism industry.
Customer Experience Is a Challenge to Recover
Customer experience is a critical component of the travel and tourism industry. As travel volumes have increased in the post-covid era, so have negative travel experiences. Business travelers who commute frequently have higher expectations. For a very long time, they have voiced their dissatisfaction, even before the leisure travelers complained. This imbalance has been exacerbated by COVID-19.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, 38% of business passengers complained about the airline, double the percentage compared to leisure travelers. The actual question, though, is how to overcome this obstacle.
Some companies may go above and beyond to reassure travelers with honesty, openness, and unmatched customer service. You may improve the customer experience by implementing the following ideas.
Concentrate on the corporate culture
Give specific examples of consumer advocacy
Equip employees with the necessary tools
According to a survey conducted by Think with Google, superior customer service is the most compelling aspect for high-value travelers. Additionally, 60% of them agree that customer service is the most crucial factor when it comes to picking a brand to travel with.
CX Plays a Vital Role in Revenue Generation
Managing customer experience in travel can enhance the brand-customer relationship, ultimately leading to revenue growth. The adoption of technology for travel booking, ticketing, and expenditure management has improved the customer experience. Satisfied customers increase income and assist firms in calculating the return on their travel and cost expenditures.
Customer experience is a key differentiator that boosts customer happiness and loyalty, and both sells and establishes a competitive edge.
“CX is the difference between success or slump.”
— Chris Pescott, CEO of Perceptive.
Annual business travel expenditures will reach $1.7 trillion globally by 2022. According to Statista, nearly 500 million business travels will take place withing the United States each year by 2022.
Ways to Improve Customer Experience (CX)
Use Tech to Create Breakthrough Customer Experiences
Technology in the travel industry is regularly evolving. By putting technology at the center of each touchpoint, the industry is laying the groundwork for a successful customer experience in travel. Chatbots powered by AI and machine learning deliver client care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Chatbots have been intelligently developed using cutting-edge technology and may be used in place of humans. AI is constantly evolving, making it more trustworthy and effective as a commercial solution.
Embrace an Omnichannel Mindset
With mobile devices accounting for more than 50% of online traffic, multi-device digital experiences have become the norm. In addition, today's customers interact with companies across various offline and online channels, frequently switching several times, and each stage of the journey must be seamlessly connected and consistent. As a result, adopting omnichannel is one of the most significant changes you will undertake.
Use Customer Journey Mapping
To create a customer journey, you must first understand your consumer. By comparing journey maps to core KPIs, you may gain a deeper insight into your customer experience and identify areas of concern and opportunity. You may use trip maps to enhance the customer experience and visualize the customer experience in the future. Alternatively, you may influence organizational transformation from the stage of inspiration to the planning and execution phases. Utilize all touchpoints and seek new possibilities for interaction.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
KLM's social care staff are well-known for their responsiveness and efficiency – the airline even shows a live countdown on its Twitter header picture to inform consumers when they may anticipate a response. However, what sets the organization apart is its ability to generate unique customer experiences.
Qatar Airways is elevating the business class travel experience. At a recent travel industry conference in Berlin, the airline unveiled its Business Class QSuite. This is the first time a business class cabin has been offered and sold with a real double bed. However, the organization goes a step further by providing value to consumers traveling for business. Additionally, the QSuite may be an open work and meeting room. Multiple configuration choices appeal to clients seeking privacy or personalization.
A score of 9.2 for audience insights indicates that the brand is in tune with its social audience well enough to cultivate an impressive number of committed followers.
The travel and tourism industry significantly benefits from nurturing an outstanding customer experience. Supremacy in customer experience can be offered with the help of sophisticated digital technology that can quantify effects and forecast behavior. In addition, as 'bleisure' travel continues to grow in popularity to blend business and leisure time, the customer experience in travel is increasing in relevance.
What are the benefits of a good customer experience?
A good customer experience increases sales and creates customer loyalty. Moreover, it reduces complaints.
How would you define excellent customer service?
Great customer service means responding promptly to a client's wants, being responsive to their concerns, and offering an enthusiastic level of care.
Do you value customer service or customer experience more?
Consumer service results in a positive customer experience. Both are critical to the business's success.
Travel Technology, Airlines and Airports
Article | August 2, 2022
Aviation security gets a new face with an AI-driven accessible screening solution that is a part of Project Dartmouth, a collaboration between tech company Pangiam and Google Cloud. This solution uses artificial intelligence and pattern analysis technologies to analyze vast amounts of data. All this analysis happens in real-time to identify potentially prohibited items in carry-on baggage to prevent coordinated terrorist attacks so that security agencies can take swift action against perpetrators. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently using this solution on a trial basis.
Threat Detection with Project Dartmouth
Pangiam uses state-of-the-art edge computing with Google Cloud’s AI and ML at the frontline. These cloud-trained AI models run at the edge to speed up the process of threat detection. In addition, using edge computing ensures that there is no concern around network latency and that the solution functions when a network is disconnected.
Achieving aviation security becomes easy with this solution because it uses specialized algorithms to analyze data and patterns within the data. It replicates human intuition to detect items that may look suspicious to a human.
The solution harnesses Aggregated Threat Detection (ATD) software that detects coordinated threats spread across multiple checkpoints, bags, and lanes. For example, the threat could be a weapon that needs assembling with its parts spread across multiple points. In this case, the solution offers a national protective security capability to alert security agencies. Pangiam’s platform collates data from any OEM anywhere using its API approach.
What does Project Dartmouth Mean for Aviation Security?
Safer and Improved Passenger Experiences Dartmouth’s AI and ML capabilities deliver the changed security measures to travelers seamlessly, so their travel experience is not disturbed, nor is their security jeopardized.
Enhanced Security Measures Using this AI and ML-based solution that replicates human intuition, no item that looks suspicious passes the security check. The aggregated threat detection software enhances the ability to detect complex, coordinated attempts to breach security.
Refined Operational Efficiency Automated threat detection software lightens the load on security officers so they can focus on examining baggage alerts. Additionally, airports can utilize their real estate for something more constructive.
Future of Aviation Security with AI and ML
AI and ML enabled tools can streamline some of the security processes and ensure that passengers safely pass through each security checkpoint. Agencies and security personnel can also handle traveler load without breaking any protocols. AI-enabled security systems continually learn, evolve, and make aviation security robust. They will continue to be an important part of the security process.