Travel expense management

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Travel expense management

Common blunders in small business travel booking

October 20, 2019
|
5
Min Read

Corporate travel can be a stressful affair. When it comes to startups and small businesses, it can be easy to commit mistakes leading to turbulent business trips.

Do you lack a travel policy? Or maybe a travel manager? 

Smaller businesses feel like they can’t or don’t need to invest in things that cost them. Yet the truth is that they can gain a lot from them.

A recent study revealed that,

Businesses spend roughly $1425 for every employee they send on a business trip.

The solutions employed by large enterprises don’t have to be exclusive to them, smaller businesses can also equally (if not greatly) benefit from having those set in place. In this article we look at some of the challenges small businesses face when it comes to travel booking. Additionally, we discuss some effective measures to mitigate these problems. 

Not having a proper travel policy

Before even thinking of business travel, companies should look at making a corporate travel policy. Lack of travel policies opens the way for bad habits like overspending and, even worse, fraudulent practices.

Travel policies streamline the process and make sure your business expenses are regulated. Involve the significant stakeholders and formulate policies that suit your business needs. With a well-crafted policy in place can vastly improve your cost savings, efficiency, and tax compliance. 

Travel policies provide all traveling staff and travel bookers with useful information and essential parameters when making travel arrangements. Implementing a robust travel policy can provide benefits like:

  • Adhering to preferred vendors to save money
  • Comprehensive travel booking procedure
  • Updated travel profiles for your employees
  • All travel needs satisfied under management
  • Special corporate rates for traveling employees

Not planning an itinerary in advance

Business travel without a solid plan or blueprint is asking for trouble. This issue is apparent in smaller businesses where the perception is that it’s not needed until the last minute, or they don’t need one at all.

Building and sharing an itinerary with all relevant personnel ensures a smooth and hassle-free trip. Travel managers, online tools, and mobile apps can help with creating a detailed itinerary for employees.

Pro-tip:

It is essential to have an itinerary, especially in overseas travel, and when traveling to unfamiliar places.

An itinerary outlines everything in your business trip like transit times, who you are meeting, travel reservations, hotel details, booking flights, and more. 

Wrong reservation information

Getting the wrong booking reservation information can ruin the entire trip and incur massive losses for a small business. This situation occurs when there is no transparent process of things like flight, hotels, car rentals, and last minute reservations. Travel booking can get hectic, and this can lead to mistakes like not double-checking dates and tickets.

The travel manager should double-check all of the pertinent information. He/she must also ensure that the involved personnel gets confirmations from third parties (E.g., travel agents). Using online booking tools and travel software can help alleviate issues with incorrect information, delays, and cancellations.

Ignoring petty expenses

Petty expenses may seem harmless in the grand scheme of things. But even small payments made by company travelers like parking fees and baggage handling may slip under the radar. Ignoring these expenses in your travel expense management can lead to a substantial monetary loss over time. These expenses are a prime target for unfaithful employees to exploit.

Allocating a petty cash fund and also making sure employees adhere to the company’s travel and expense policies can solve this. Sometimes, it is confusing for employees to figure out what is considered a small expense, further muddling the process. Using traditional expense reporting is a headache for both employees and the accounts team, as there can be dozens of receipts involved.

Pro-tip:

Deploy an expense management software that allows you to record and track all expenses made during any trip.

Out-of-policy expense claims

Even when a travel and expense policy is in place, employees spending outside the bounds of it. Employees may be unaware of spending limits and don’t realize where they have made a mistake until their reimbursement requests are denied. Lack of communication and awareness is the leading cause of this issue.

Getting employees not to commit this mistake is based on how you project your travel policies to them. This process becomes easier when a dedicated travel manager is present to relay all this information to employees.

Pro-tip:

Making your travel policy available to employees via a mobile phone is also a great way to remind them.

Some expense management solutions are customized to make expense reporting in business travel more comfortable, with features like real-time policy compliance.

Missing or late receipts

Employees need to submit all receipts from expenses incurred during a trip. But that is a messy process. Carrying around physical copies of receipts can very easily be lost or misplaced somewhere.

Having an efficient expense management process relies on people submitting expenses on time. Chasing employees for late or missing receipts won’t solve anything. Hence, it is better to have a comprehensive solution that prevents it from even happening.

One of the best ways is to have all travelers use a mobile app that can record and store all receipts. Having a digital copy of these receipts means your receipt management and reimbursements will be error-free and without delays.

Incorrect/incomplete expense reports

Receipts for reimbursements can only be satisfied if the appropriate expense report contains them. The issue with smaller businesses and startups is that they often do not have a definitive process of expense reporting.

Relaying the problem faced above, receipt mismanagement and other kinds of unverified expenses occupy these reports. The accounts team then gets stuck with all this mess and needs to sort it out manually.

Your business can eliminate such process-related issues with a comprehensive expense reporting software. Additionally, mobile integrated apps that work in tandem with this software help make the process fast and straightforward.

Not assigning a travel manager

Here are some advantages to keeping a designated travel manager to handle your company travel expenses:

  • Even a small business or startup, should have a dedicated travel manager to manage business travel. 
  • Numerous travel-related issues in corporate travel can be reduced or even eliminated with the help of a travel manager.
  • Travel managers ensure that the company gets the best prices with suppliers and manage all travel activities. 
  • A travel manager will make sure the company travel policies are adhered so that business trips become consistent, systemized, and efficient.
  • They also help keep your corporate travel program and employee travel profiles updated.

No visibility into business expenses

Does your accounts team have insights into the average amount spent on different categories during a business trip? 

If your current system has limited expense report insights, then you lack visibility into peculiar expenses. Unless you pull that data into your accounting system, it’s tough to figure out what you are spending on. Cost-saving and optimization cannot happen when there isn't a full picture of travel spends.

What generally solves this is integrating your accounting system with a travel and expense management software. Modern TEM softwares come equipped with multifaceted integration options and significant expense analytics. Now the business not only captures and stores more data than before but can also see which areas can be improved. And all of this happens in a single place rather than jumbled all over.

Not using travel and expense management software

As discussed in the above sections, we have recommended businesses to use a travel and expense management software to solve many issues with corporate travel. A small business or startup doesn’t mean you don’t need a TEM solution.

TEM softwares come with many features to facilitate and optimize a business’s corporate travel management. They are usually online services rather than full-fledged software, which makes them quick and easy to deploy. You can also get additional security as all your information is in the cloud storage.

Some of the standard features include:

Small business travel booking and an automated expense management software

Now let’s take it one step further; all the features outlined above can be automated as well. An automated expense management software takes away one more hurdle, and that’s human intervention. Automated workflows and approvals make expense reporting easy, giving a significant productivity boost to your employees. It also comes equipped with greater visibility into business expenses.

Corporate travel doesn’t need to cause more headaches. Using an automated travel and expense management software like Fyle unlocks the true potential of your business. With exclusive features like pre-trip authorizations, travel integrations, travel-centric system roles, and more. Business travel can now be a breeze.

Schedule a demo today and get the ultimate corporate travel solution!


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