Travel Expense Tracking

As economic times get tougher, businesses are continually looking for new ways to reduce costs. A great place to start is employee travel. There are ways save money without sacrificing necessary travel or the traveler’s quality of life on the road. Develop a of a corporate travel program. While most large corporations have such programs in place, many smaller businesses don’t and could benefit greatly by implementing one.

Before you begin implementing your program, you will want to gather information. This will give you the best picture of what you will need to go forward and develop a travel policy that fits your needs:

  • Do you have pre-existing Hotel, car or air vendor agreements
  • How do you pay for travel? A company card or do employees pay and get reimbursed?
  • Can you identify travel patterns such as key cities?
  • How many employees are arranging travel for others? Who are they?

The Benefits of a Managed Travel Program

The most important step in managing travel is requiring all reservations be made through an in-house central location or through a specific travel management companies (TMCs). Be prepared, this might not go over well with your employees. Many have frequent flyer or other loyalty programs. They like the flexibility, comfort, and points involved with choosing their favorite airlines, hotels and even car rental companies. But Despite some initial opposition, there are a number of compelling reasons for small and mid-sized businesses to start a managed travel program.

  • The Bottom Line. By ensuring that the lowest fares and rates are found — and booked — businesses can reign in travel costs. Even badly designed managed travel programs can save 10-12 percent of travel costs and good programs can save 50 percent or more.
  • Automation. Many automated systems allow managers to approve trips before they’re booked, so costs are assessed before something is booked. In addition, for larger companies, these types of financial controls meet the level of scrutiny specified in the Sarbanes-Oxley act that Congress passed to beef up corporate governance and responsibility.
  • Preferred Partnerships and Rates. By routing all reservations through a centralized location, businesses — even small ones — are better able to get a complete picture of their travel spending. This helps them negotiate preferred partnerships with airlines, hotels, and other travel companies. These partnerships can often lead to better rates. But you need to have good data in order to negotiate these terms. “If you go to an airline or hotel and say I want the best rate you will give me,” Maguire says, “the supplier is going to come back and say, ‘How many days did you spend There are four fundamental components to implementing a managed travel program, according to Wilkinson.
If you ultimately decide to have employees book their own travel, make sure to establish a travel policy. It’s important to develop a set of rules to guide the “travelers” at your company The guidelines should spell out preferred providers, the class of service to pick, per diem rates, and other basic guidelines. See “Business Travel Policy” for a sample template.