Leveraging Employee Travel Expense Data

Last week, we talked about putting your corporate travel data to work. One of the key strategies discussed was converging multiple datasets – like expense data – for deeper insights. There is a lot that can be learned from looking at the expense data on its own. Travel managers and other executive stakeholders can leverage the expense data in a way that provides value for the organization by identifying actionable insights from employees' travel expenditures.

Explore the data

First and foremost, it's imperative that managers take the time to examine their corporate expense data. In many organizations, the process of analyzing this data should take place at least once a year, if not quarterly, to support up-to-date insights that can become drivers for change and improvement within the corporate travel program. After all, looking critically at employee expense data will help organizations better understand the total cost of trips and their return on investment from corporate travel. 

But managers and stakeholders won't be aware of these unless they take the time to examine, for example, what expenses aren’t captured by their travelers. Perhaps their current systems only account for major costs like airline tickets, hotel reservations and rental car purchases, but they don’t catalog smaller logistical costs like taxi rides to and from the airport, meals, baggage fees, parking, etc. 

Because travel data from the previous year typically comes through in January, now is a great time to schedule a review and analyze this information. Many businesses audit their expenses by partnering with a travel management company that can help perform gap analysis, measure policy compliance and assess program leakage.

Create benchmarks

One powerful way to put expense data to work for the organization is to analyze it according to specifically set benchmarks, such as the following:

  • Friendly competition: How does one department’s compliance with the enterprise travel policy stack up against another’s? The spirit of competition and gamification can positively influence compliance. Better still, most TMCs have access to compliance figures from businesses across industries. Are you on par with your competition in the marketplace? 
  • Shorter reimbursement cycles: One survey from Paystream Advisors found that 1 business in 10 suffers from lengthy reimbursement cycles. With an automated expense management tool, the expense report can be approved and money can be reimbursed to the employee fast and effectively.

Leverage expense data for travel supplier programs

Expense data is also important for travel managers to have in hand when negotiating contracts with travel partners. Airlines, car rental agencies and hotel chains will hesitate to provide travel discounts to businesses that can't or don't track travel spending, as it's difficult – if not impossible – to otherwise demonstrate the kind of volume the company does and the value it offers travel partners. Expense data can give both parties a readout on the full spend, especially if corporate travelers book directly with carriers. Direct bookings will show up on expense reports, but they won’t be on a typical TMC report.

Invest in an intuitive expense tool

Manually entering receipts can be a painful process: On average, 1 expense report in 5 contains errors like duplicate entries and incorrect dollar amounts. 

Leveraging modern expense solutions can not only greatly reduce errors but also help support storytelling within analysis. Stakeholders can easily identify months where more was spent on travel or when employees took more trips, for example. Furthermore, a centralized expense tool also accelerates the reimbursement process for employees who pay out of pocket on business trips.

Direct Travel is a preferred partner of both SAP Concur and Deem. We’re happy to help our clients integrate these or other expense management tools into their operations, drive compliance and build out their travel policies through actionable data. To find out all the meaningful ways employers can utilize travel expense data, connect with the experts at Direct Travel today.