A Guide to Managing Travel Expenses for SMEs

With the cost of fuel, rail and air travel increasing each year, managing employee travel expenses is a key area of concern for many businesses. Smaller companies, with lower travel budgets and fewer resources, often find the process particularly difficult to bring under control. Further to being expensive, booking and organising travel is a time consuming process, especially for SMEs who often forego luxuries such as office PAs.

Below are our top tips for managing employee business travel, saving you time and benefiting the bottom line.

Reducing The Cost of Business Travel

Many businesses attempting to cut costs resort to simply downgrading the comfort in which their employees travel as well as that of accommodation. Traveling uncomfortably, however, usually results in poorer performance in meetings and pitches, losing your company money in the long run. In particular, downgrading accommodation should be approached with caution. Booking somewhere dirty and cheap (particularly with security/safety issues) can end up costing you a lot more time and money than simply booking a mid-priced hotel.

Strategic management is key to limiting the cost of employee business travel. Look at how your employees currently travel and identify where savings can be made. How far in advance are tickets booked? In which class are employees traveling/what style of hotel is being booked? How are transfers between airports/train stations and hotels organised?

Following this, create a policy for travel and entertainment expenses that specifies guidelines based on your research. Perhaps you’ll allow employees to book business class flights for long haul, but economy for short. If they are traveling by train at busy times you may specify that they book a first class ticket to be able to work, but if the route is quiet economy class will suffice. Equally with hotels, specifying that employees book as far in advance as possible will allow them to book at the best rates.

Time Saving Tips

Once your business travel policy is in place, you can move your focus to streamlining the logistics of planning and booking group and solo travel, as well as the process of filling in expenses forms.

For this, technology is your best friend.

There are now many smartphone apps centered around business travel, ranging from simple to sophisticated. Turboscan, focuses purely on coherent presentation of expense reports and receipts whereas apps like Tripit or Gateguru, provide a much wider range of services from suggesting accommodation, keeping track of all expenses, to storing flight itineraries.

If most of your employee business travel takes place in the UK, the Best Western Business Account could save you both time and money. The account works like a joint family bank account. When employees travel they put all expenses onto a card that can be monitored by the account holder/CEO via a centralized online billing system. Not only does the service keep track of all expenditure in an easily manageable and clearly presented report, it also provides various discounts including 51% off train travel and offers at hotels across the UK and beyond.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to making the travel expenses process as painless as possible, both for you, your employees and the bottom line.

This helpful advice was brought to you by Simon Green on behalf of Best Western Hotels.

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