How to expense business travel: best practices - Click Travel
  • View Larger Image
  • How to expense business travel: best practices

    By |2021-10-28T09:30:12+01:00October 28th, 2021|Comments Off on How to expense business travel: best practices

Corporate travel is often an exciting opportunity for workers to break out of their daily routine, while for employers it is a key driver for growth. Even though the past year has changed the way we work, having real client meetings, in person, is still a very effective business practice. With travel, however, comes a number of different business expenses, including transportation, meals, accommodation and more – all of which are usually free from tax.

From our experience, managing travel expenses can become problematic, especially if they are done chaotically and the business travel expenses policy is not clear to employees. Our quick guide lays out all the ways you can make expensing business travel easier and more seamless for you and your team.

How to manage business travel expenses:

 

  • Decide on the employee payment method

There are two main ways for your employees to cover their expenses whilst away on business. And it’s completely up to you to choose which payment method suits your business and your team best.

The first option is to ask your employees to pay upfront using their own personal credit card or cash and then submit expense claims. This is often seen as the simpler option for companies and is the standard practice across most businesses. It does however come with its difficulties, both for employers and travellers. Processing the reimbursements can be time-consuming for whoever is in charge of admin or finance. Whilst for travellers, being out of pocket until reimbursement and having to keep hold of receipts can be quite stressful.

Alternatively, the second option is to provide your employees with a company bank account or card which they can use to pay for their trip-related expenses whilst on the move. This keeps everything much easier to track, saving time both for your finance team and travellers.

  • Establish a clear process for expense submission & reimbursement

Before any business trip, make sure to remind employees to record their spending and make it clear in what format the receipts should be provided for reimbursement. Make sure there is a clear submission timeline and that it is available to all employees in easy to find places. To avoid misunderstandings, make sure to have some standardised expense report forms accessible at all times to employees. There are a number of ways you can share your expense policy with your employees, including your company’s intranet, on booking confirmation emails, or on-demand in your company’s internal communication platform (Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.).

For managing your company’s expenses we recommend using an expense management software which makes the whole process much more seamless. Whilst having everything in one place for your finance team, your employees are also able to track what they’ve expensed, and what the status of their reimbursement is. If you don’t have access to an expense management platform, there are other methods of keeping track of the employee’s expenses, such as paper forms or spreadsheets. However, if you have a large number of employees claiming expenses whilst out on business travel, you may soon find this method over-complicated.

  • Be clear what the expense policy is

Almost all companies have issues with expense policy compliance. No matter how expenses are recorded and organised, spending outside company policy always has its complications. One of the main contributors to this is not clearly outlining your expense policy to your employees.

To avoid this, it’s best to make sure every employee knows the policy and the rules regarding business travel expenses. Make sure to send company-wide emails regularly, providing updates and reminding them what the business travel expenses policy entails. To make it easier for employees to access the policy, have a document available at all times in an easy to find place on your intranet.

If possible, using a travel management platform like Click Travel can help you automate business travel expenses such as hotel, rail and flight bookings, relieving the company from the task and letting you focus on more important things. Being clear with employees on how to book and pay for travel from the outset is crucial to managing your business travel expenses effectively.

How to reduce your business travel expenses

 

Click Travel offers an all in one platform for booking and managing trains, flights, hotels and car hire with 24/7 customer support, helping you keep business expenses organised, with immediately accessible records. Our goal is to help your company reduce business travel expenses and make it a pleasant experience for the company and its employees.

Here are our top 5 tips for reducing business travel expenses:

  • Make the bookings in advance (if possible)

You should rarely consider last-minute bookings unless it’s an emergency. You can benefit from discounts and low prices by planning and booking ahead of time. To establish this within the company, make it clear to the employees what the timeline for flight and accommodation reservations should be. Most business travel booking platforms will allow you to require users to book business trips 7 days in advance, for example, to ensure you’re getting the best deals.

  • Schedule meetings efficiently

Travelling at peak times is much more expensive than at off-peak times. Let your employees know this and ask them to plan their meeting times with travel costs in mind. Of course, not all meetings can be scheduled to avoid expensive travel times so it’s important to always weigh the pros and cons of each situation.

Another instance where meetings can be scheduled more efficiently is the location. If there are more clients attending the meeting than employees travelling, think about perhaps inviting the clients to the office to save on overall travel costs.

  • Be smart about transportation

A quick and easy way to reduce business travel expenses straight away is to ask employees to choose certain methods of transport over others. A prime example of this kind of cost-saving is taking the train as opposed to hiring a car or getting a taxi. This is particularly useful when travelling to and from airports. Whilst it may sometimes be easier to take a taxi to or from the airport, it is often much cheaper to get there by train, with most large airports being within close proximity to a train station. So encourage this behaviour by communicating with your employees.

 

  • Getting the best deal for accommodation

Again, making a reservation in advance helps save a lot of money. If you’ve been a loyal customer to one chain of hotels, keep using their services. It’s very likely they are offering the best deal around for your loyalty. However, if you decide to shop around for other offers, tell the other hotels what the price they need to compete is. They might offer a better deal if they know what they are up against.

If you’re using a travel management company like Click Travel, you can work with your account manager to establish corporate rates with the hotels you book most. Corporate rates help you establish the cheapest rate for your team’s most frequently booked hotels, which can represent a large saving on business travel expenses.

  • Setting a budget for meals

Offering per diems, as opposed to reimbursing your staff for actual meal expenses, can make them more attentive to the cost and save you money. Per diems is a daily allowance of money your employees can use to cover the expenses of being on the road. Using a business travel booking platform like Click Travel allows you to store meal allowances on traveller profiles. Meaning this aspect of a business trip can be expensed automatically if eating at the hotel.

 

If you want to learn more about how to expense business travel, and how to make savings whilst doing it, get in touch with our expert team today.

About Author:

Alex Detheridge

Author

Alex is our Marketing Assistant, responsible for all the day-to-day marketing activities at Click Travel. Follow