Business Travel Seen On Two-Year Rise: Survey

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3:00 AM EDT March 25th, 2014

Cloud-based travel and expense management software provider Certify has announced results of its Business Travel Expense Trends report, conducted in February 2014. The survey of 137 companies of all sizes in North America found business travel on the rise.

A majority of respondents across company sizes, (58 percent), spent more on travel in 2013 compared with 2012. In 2014, nearly half (49 percent) of all respondents said they will spend slightly more on T&E, while 30 percent say they will spend the same.

“If business travel is a barometer of the economy, these results are positive, showing that companies are loosening the reins on operational expenses,” said Robert Neveu, CEO of Certify. “Most surprising was the level of investment at SMB companies, in which one third of small companies are spending more than $50,000 annually on T&E, while 41 percent of midsize companies are spending $500,000 and up. Despite the advent of widespread availability of remote collaboration and conferencing tools, companies still value face time when it comes to doing business.”

Spend trends by company size:

 A majority of companies spent more on travel in 2013 versus 2012, at 55, 52 and 70 percent respectively across small, midsize and enterprise companies.

In 2014, the trend is similar with 64 percent of midsize and 63 percent of large companies reporting they will spend more on T&E compared with 2013; meanwhile, 46 percent of small businesses said they will spend the same amount, although 42 percent said they will spend more.

Most small businesses, (54 percent), spend less than $50,000 annually on T&E, while 33 percent spend between $50,000 to $500,000 annually.

In midsized businesses, spending was divided, with 35 percent spending $50,000 up to $500,000, 17 percent spending in the $500,000 to $1,000,000 range, and 24 percent spending $1,000,000 to $5,000,000.

More than half (52 percent) of large enterprises spent more than $5 million annually on T&E.

The survey also looked at processes and pain points behind travel management.

Highlights include:

Travel booking methods: While 80 percent of small businesses use travel websites for booking travel, midsize and large enterprises used a mix of methods including travel agencies, websites and software.

Travel management pain points: Employees failing to submit reports on time was the top pain point for all respondents (46 percent), followed by employees losing receipts, length of time to approve reports and reviewing for policy violations.

The top pressure for improving T&E management processes was cost reduction (48 percent), followed by improving visibility into spend (35 percent) and the frequency of non-compliant expenses (27 percent).

Areas for improvement: The expense report creation and approval process was the top area participants noted for improvement (36 percent), followed by travel booking (21 percent), systems integration (20 percent), and mobility (19 percent).

Expense management tools: A majority of all respondents are using web-based systems for expense management (43 percent), followed by spreadsheets (29 percent) and accounting or ERP packages (18 percent).

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