When we hear ”business travel expenses”, the first thing that comes into our minds is money spent by the company on flights, hotels, rental cars, taxis, meals and the list goes on. Because you want to decrease business travel expenses, you should look beyond the monetary cost of a trip and search for the hidden costs.
The time spent in transit should always be convenient for both your company and your employees. If business trips are a part of their jobs, then you have to be flexible with their plane ticket costs, flight hours or accommodation options. It might be cheaper to spend a whole day in transit, but in this case the cost savings will only make the business trip unpleasant for your employee, causing travel friction. You should consider what works best for each employee, while keeping in mind a travel policy that encourages everybody to be cost-conscious.
Time lost on business trips and decreased productivity go hand in hand. While for you it is perfect to catch a flight early in the morning, for your employees this might be a trigger for decreased productivity after midday. Another detail you should take into account, especially when your employees travel often, is the multitude of expenses they have to submit in order to get their reports done.
If they have to enter each expense manually into your travel and expense management system or into an excel document, this is certainly time consuming and their loss of productivity directly affects your company’s results. After all, they should be able to get the most out of the business trip and you should support this with concrete measures, such as automated expense reporting.
Whether your employees love travelling or not, the risk of burnout is real and the first signs of travel friction might appear sooner or later. To avoid extreme situations, be sure to obtain sincere feedback from your employees regarding their willingness to travel, travel load level, travel experience and job satisfaction. Also, be sure you to include some form of reward for the employees who travel a lot.
Submitting receipts becomes very frustrating for many employees without an efficient expense management system. You may prefer for all business travel expenses to be submitted as soon as the employees come back from their trip, but something will always get in the way of prompt submission - no matter if it is work related or not. You have to pay attention to details such as the time spent by employees submitting their receipts, how soon they submit them after their return, the time needed to get the expenses approved and the percentage of approved expenses.
Duplicated expense submission and other errors in the expense reports may occur unintentionally or intentionally. Especially when the reports are submitted manually, it is difficult to check for errors and duplicates and this leads to increased costs for your company. When the finance team uses manual verification, the risk of asset misappropriation increases as employees know that their colleagues are too busy to check receipts in detail and your company might end up reimbursing more than stated on your expense policy. In order to increase compliance, you should start using an automated travel and expense management solution.
Your finance department is tasked with checking the reports submitted by your employees, searching for errors, duplicates, asset misappropriation and so on. Considering the number of reports and the amount of time spent checking each report manually, you will see that your finance team is overloaded with travel and expense responsibilities and hiring new team members does not reduce costs, whereas an automated solution does.
As you can see, many hidden costs are related to travel friction and the lack of an efficient travel and expense management system. Most of these hidden costs can be easily eliminated through an automated solution that fits your company's needs and genuinely cares about your employees' well-being.