Whether you work for a small business or a larger corporation, business travel can be a major expense, second only to salary. With 84% of business travelers expecting to take at least one trip in the next 6 months, driving corporate travel spending has never been more important.
The problem is, many CFOs and finance managers spend too much time logging multiple invoices, receipts and numerous travel platforms to understand how much of their business travel budget has already been spent.
This often chaotic process combined with lengthy expense reporting makes it incredibly challenging to stay ahead of budgets and make informed financial decisions in real time.
Because business travel is typically a variable expense, if your company is booking corporate travel on various consumer platforms or through a traditional travel agent, instead of booking everything in one place, get an accurate, up-to-date view of your spending to optimize your budget. Can is not only stressful but almost impossible.
In this piece we’ll share our insights on how you can save money and make your budget tighter for you.
real time Data is the key
If you want to optimize your business travel budget, having real-time data at hand will help you set benchmarks for your travel expenses, create future budgets that reflect reality, and make smart decisions that will impact your financial decisions in the current month and quarter.
To get better control over your budget, you need to have complete visibility of all business travel expenses and be able to visualize each business travel expense by different categories. This will help you figure out the average cost of business travel for each department, team, individual and/or office location. If you’re used to more manual, labor-intensive processes, this sounds like a dream, right?
So how do you get the data you need?
The easiest way to get data is to let your business travel booking tool collect it for you.
This means moving away from allowing business travel managers and office managers to book their corporate travel on websites and apps designed for leisure travel and vacations. Avoid using traditional travel agencies to book your business trips. Instead, we recommend using a modern booking platform designed specifically for business travel and, most importantly, with the needs of the finance team in mind.
Ideally, your chosen booking platform will automatically report the total cost of travel by individual employee, team and office location. and also provides insights such as average trip price, date range and cost type (airfare, hotel rates, etc.).
The tool should also include labels so you can collect more useful information about your travel expenses, such as how much a particular client or event spent, for example.
At TravelPerk, we offer a flexible reporting solution – allowing you to see where spending is in real-time. Our tool lets you choose a mix of automatic filters and manual labels, so you’ll be able to see all the data you need with the click of a button.
With reporting tools you can separate your business travel expenses and expenses:
- Costs by department or team.
- Expenditure by employee.
- Cost divided by flight, hotel room, car rental, train.
- Spend at the office.
- Spend by project, customer, job location or event.
- Real-time costs for the current month, quarter or year.
- Recoverable VAT.
Being able to categorize and isolate these costs is key to making smart operational decisions and optimizing your business travel budget.
Travelperk’s reporting tools let you configure reports or schedule alerts focused on the data most important to you, meaning you can make more informed financial decisions.
Your Streamline Cost management process
In addition to sophisticated reporting tools, your travel management company will allow you to integrate your business travel booking tool with your expense management system. Thus, all your expenses are consolidated into one platform to make your expense analysis easier.
Tools like Ramp, DV, Pehock and Yokoi enable you to add other data such as food or event tickets to get a complete overview.
Learn more in our comprehensive guide on how to streamline your expense management process.
In addition to real-time data and a streamlined spending process, here are 3 more tips to make your business travel budget less difficult for you.
your integral travel policy in your booking tool
To control real-live bookings, you should be able to integrate your business travel policy into your booking tool. This not only benefits the finance team but also allows employees and travel managers to be better informed of what is in the budget. This means you will have a better chance of improving travel policy compliance.
When setting up your travel policy inside your booking platform, create the minimum number of policies possible. We recommend that most business owners implement a standard policy and, if necessary, an executive policy. This will help make travel policy management and travel expense reconciliation much smoother.
Set up automated approval workflows
It helps define approval workflows so that travel managers can review and validate requests more efficiently. If your travel policy is integrated into a booking tool like TravelPerk, you can set up your preferred approval workflow. For example, if a traveler books an upcoming business trip that falls within the travel policy you set, you can set it to be automatically approved. Leaving you to do more important things!
Recover VAT on your business travel
Small and medium-sized businesses lose millions each year from unclaimed VAT on their business travel With so many different tax regulations in the UK and around the world, the refund process can often be confusing and out for many finance teams. Fortunately, TravelPerk has created a simple VAT recovery solution that allows you to keep travel costs down and save up to 20% of your annual travel budget. TravelPerk collects invoices on your behalf from service providers so no cash is left on the table.