3 Essentials for Effective Corporate Travel and Expense Management in 2018

In-person visits continue to be a cornerstone for client communication, making travel an important part of business. According to the U.S. Travel Association, American employees took more than 457 million overnight trips in 2016.

But all the moving parts involved in business travel can make the process overly complex and expensive. To enable corporate travel that is organized as well as cost-efficient, your organization should incorporate these essentials as you reevaluate your strategies and prepare for 2018.

1. A detailed, enforceable corporate travel policy

Before your workers ever step outside of the office, you must make sure you have a comprehensive and current travel policy. As we edge closer to the end of the year, now is the time to review your current travel policy and ensure that it includes the following:

Travel Booking

Does your organization use an online booking tool? Do employees select their own flights and hotel accommodations, or is there a travel manager on staff that takes care of these responsibilities? Are these costs paid upfront by the company, or are employees reimbursed at a later time?

Expense Management

The corporate policy should also address other expenses that employees will incur during their trips, including food and transportation. Will employees have access to corporate credit cards for these transactions, or should expenses be tracked and later reimbursed?

Safety Information

Your policy ought to lay out rules to ensure the safety of traveling employees. Are there processes in place that ask employees to submit their itineraries ahead of their trips? Does the company provide contact information or have open discussions about any relevant insurance plans it holds?

2. Means to easily track employee spending

While your corporate travel policy will include information on how the organization handles travel expenses - including the different spending categories and any items that are nonrefundable - your business should leverage a solution to make spend tracking easier for travelers in 2018. There are currently numerous solutions on the market that support intuitive travel management as well as expense tracking. 

Legacy approaches to employee spending, such as spreadsheets or saving receipts, simply don't cut it anymore. Not only do they run the risk of being inaccurate or outdated, but these cumbersome strategies can also lengthen the reimbursement time for employees. Today's companies should look to update any antiquated travel management and expense tracking solutions with more robust, mobile-connected technology. When selecting an expense management solution, decision-makers should seek out software that allows users to log expenses through a clean interface on the fly.

3. Technology solutions that support employee engagement

A focus on the end user should extend to every travel management system the company uses, and should be a top priority heading into 2018. From initial booking to expense management, from contract optimization to travel analytics, travel management solutions should encourage user engagement and enhance accessibility while still being totally secure. It's important to seek out customizable solutions that ensure that the unique needs of the company's workforce are met. In addition, considering solutions that include different approaches like gamification can help boost engagement and guarantee a high return on investment.

A robust travel policy, complete with technology to support employees around the world, can greatly benefit how your organization manages business trips. To find out more about what your company needs to do in 2018 to enhance the efficacy of its travel and expense management, reach out to the experts at Direct Travel today.