Article | December 3, 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 | April 7, 2020
Who’s ready for some good news? Well, we’re probably not going to hear any truly good news, especially in the travel world, for some time. But that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate about positive developments in the post-COVID world. From better environmental protections to more flexible booking options, here are some ways travel could improve in the long run.
Article | December 10, 2020
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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Article | March 9, 2020
With trade shows cancelled and companies limiting or even banning travel, Mark Manduca, aviation analyst at Citi, recently raised the question: “Will corporate travel ever truly recover again?” When the coronavirus crisis is over, will companies that have managed just fine with video conferencing decide to carry on, given how much cheaper it is? We have heard similar questions before. I wrote an article in the early 1990s, after the first Gulf war and the economic downturn, quoting experts who said company bosses had noticed a fall in costs from the resulting decline in travel and decided to make it permanent. Similar things were said after 9/11. Every economic slowdown produces the same statements.