Travel and Expense Management: A Complete Guide

Many people have had experience with a travel expense report and they are aware how business travel doesn’t always involve business class flights and expensive restaurants.

Employees, managers, and accountants deal with multiple things at the same time just so they could ensure business trip expenses are within the specified budget and comply with the travel and expense policy laid out by the company.

However, there is one good way to circumvent all these troubles and this is to implement a travel expense management strategy.

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What is corporate travel management?

Corporate travel management is the structure that a company has in place to oversee and facilitate business travel. This covers the processes and operations of planning a trip (booking, making payments) and there is also the issue of providing and approving the needed documents that should ensure compliance.

Some businesses rely on travel software, some outsource this to specialized travel agencies while others bring in dedicated travel managers to handle the issue. The solution will ultimately depend on your business, but let’s take a further look into expense management software.

The main reasons why business travel is difficult

Business travel is a difficult area for many businesses. Even when a company believes it has it all under control, it may still cost a lot of time and money just to handle what should be a set of simple tasks.

Let’s look at some factors that make business (corporate) travel so difficult.

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Large number of requests

Most businesses have an employee or a team of employees along with a manager (corporations) that are responsible for monitoring and handling business travel.

Bigger companies can afford the luxury of having a person or a couple of employees handling business travel, but in up-and-coming companies, this role often falls to someone in the administration or finance teams and it’s just one of the tasks that they have to handle regularly.

A good software solution automates these dull travel-related tasks and makes that employee’s life easier.

Tracking approvals

An employee in charge of this business segment also has to ensure that travel has been authorized by the right people. This means that most companies require a manager or even the CEO to sign the authorization.

This can lead to a dull and lengthy chain of operations that has to be dealt with. With a good travel and expense management solution, one can say goodbye to this problem too.

Worrying about expenses

Travel is an important part of running a business and it is vital for growth, but the bill that comes with it can be a bit difficult to stomach. This can lead to a swollen travel budget and then managers have to start turning down reasonable requests to save up some cash.

However, one can have all the expenses and bills available at the palm of their hand at all times with a good travel and expense management software solution.

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What is travel and expense management software?

Travel and expense management software is designed to help employees and managers better streamline and automate all business travel-related expenses. These expenses range from cash advances, hotels, flight bookings, and employee travel reimbursements,

A good software solution of this kind can help accounting departments get real-time visibility and complete control over business expenses.

Why is automation so important?

Basically, all of the problems we have mentioned as well as those that we haven’t are closely related to the invested time and effort. Employees lose too much time on business travel tasks and put invaluable effort that could be invested into tasks that impact the bottom line.

Every extra touch that you require from your employees takes time. The biggest time killer is at the very beginning when employees have to figure out what the travel policy is in the first place. Every question takes time and every mistake multiplies the amount of time invested.

So, why should you leave this to your employees and risk mistakes? You should, instead, automate the whole process.

It is possible to build your travel policy into a travel management system, and then nobody has to actually remember it or ask questions. The employees simply need to follow the process step by step, all the while doing what’s required of them.

Why should you use travel and expense management software?

Obviously, employees have to do a range of tasks before the actual trip. Let’s see why good travel and expense management software should be an integral part of your business organization.

  • When an employee selects the travel booking options, they need to get them approved by their manager or travel manager.
  • The travel managers or employees first have to find all the travel booking options that fall under the set guidelines for their category.
  • On approval, the employee is ready to go on the business trip. They would meet and dine with multiple people to close deals or to sustain and maintain business relationships.
  • If the employee either loses the expense receipts or forgets to report the expenses for the set deadline, they would lose out on their money on business expenses.

On top of that, there is a good chance of non-compliance or even deliberate expense report fraud. Sometimes businesses fail to lay out the framework of expense reporting properly or there are sudden changes in the business trip itinerary.

Luckily, this is where a travel expense software solution can really come in handy. There is no way to cheat an algorithm or code and the chance of the algorithm making a mistake practically doesn’t exist.

Final thoughts

When you fix your travel problems, you will fix your business’s spending and your travel manager’s schedule.

Placing your faith in a good travel management software solution should provide you with a wholesome approach that can lead you to success. You will save money, save time, and spare your employees of dull tasks they once had to do manually.

Interesting related article: “What does Expense mean?”