Tips to keep business travelers happy and spend-compliant

Improve traveler experience, reduce costs, and ensure compliance. The following advice is provided by Capital One Business Deals & SAP Concur.

As more business travelers get back on the road, the higher volume of travel is revealing organizations’ pain points in their travel processes. Knowing there’s room for improvement can be the first step to solving a problem. But the next step—determining how to fix a problem—requires a proven framework and commitment to change.

In the face of uncertainty, organizations may wonder just how much more change they can manage. But there's no time like today to put better controls on your processes so you can keep employee spend compliant, rein in your costs, and improve your traveler experience.

Why now? To keep both business travelers and managers happy

Keeping your talent happy is key to keeping them onboard. Yet most business travelers report being unhappy with the current state of travel at their workplace.

The fourth annual 2022 SAP Concur global business travel survey found that 82% of business travelers say their company is returning to pre-2020 travel levels. Meanwhile, 61% of business travelers say their current travel schedules fall short of their expectations.

And if you want to hang on to your talent, take note: Of business travelers who aren’t happy with their travel schedule, 23% say they plan to search for a new job if their travel situation doesn't improve.

Employee travel concerns for travel-related issues:

  • 92% say they’d accept a position with more travel only if offered added salary, benefits, or travel flexibility
  • 91% say it’s essential for their company to offer flexible travel and booking options to help protect their health and safety

Those who manage travel planning for their organizations have the following concerns:

  • 100% expect their role to become more challenging in the next 12 months compared to last year
  • 49% report increased pressure from senior leadership to demonstrate the ROI of their role

These sentiments highlight the urgency for some businesses to modernize their travel processes.

Where to start? Address common business travel issues

Getting on the path to better travel booking and expense processes requires you to take stock of where your organization stands. Consider what policies and procedures you have in place to ensure the following.

Your travel policy should meet your employees’ needs pertaining to business travel:

  • Flexibility
  • Health
  • Safety

The policy should also align with your organization’s needs regarding business travel:

  • Controlling fraud and/or non-compliant spend
  • Visibility into travel expenses
  • Sustainability

Once you begin evaluating and consolidating your organization’s needs around business travel, it’s time to tackle your travel expense policy. So, if you have an existing policy you haven’t touched in a while, it’s probably time to update it. If you don’t yet have one, now’s a great time to create one.

Why is it important for businesses that require travel to have a travel expense policy?

Taking a closer look at why a travel expense policy is important: On average, 10% of organizations’ budgets go to employee expenses and business travel, which is no small amount, especially considering that 37% of business travelers have reportedly had at least one exception on their expense reports.

But giving your business travelers clear, concise written guidelines for travel spend gives you a solid foundation from which you can better control company travel booking and expenses—helping reduce human error and fraud alike.

Create an effective and easy-to-use travel expense policy using these 5 tips

Consider the following when you start working on or revising your policy.

1. Collaborate with your team:

Invite your team members to contribute their thoughts on the travel process—the good, the bad, the ugly—to consider what needs to be addressed.

2. Cover your bases for what is needed for travel:

Outline your policy for travel expenses and reimbursement for common items like travel (by air, rail, and road), mileage, taxis, accommodations, and mobile phones. Using this expense policy builder can help you customize a policy to your needs.

3. Avoid the use of jargon:

Make the policy easy to understand so it’s easier for your travelers to follow.

4. Create a policy that is flexible:

A good policy guides behavior and is adaptable enough to cover shifting travel requirements—for example, local vs. international travel.

5. Make the travel expense policy easy to find:

Don’t keep your expense policy a secret. Consider giving employees periodic refreshers so they can keep it top of mind and regularly address questions or concerns.

How can automation help you keep travel spend in line with your policy?

When it comes to offering consistency in a shifting travel and economic landscape, automation can help you lock in your travel expense policy and enforce it. Choosing the right travel and expense automation solution can also help you keep your travelers safer, put guardrails on travel booking, and view all travel data in one place—to better manage costs and reduce paperwork.

Travel is challenging for organizations and their travelers, especially these days. But with a common-sense policy and the right solution to help you stay on track, you can reduce travel-related headaches and keep spending in check.

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