Between automated expense management tools and mobile-friendly T&E solutions, corporate trips and the reimbursement process that follows should be a breeze.
Especially, said T&E firm KDS, because corporate travel is one of the largest areas of corporate expense today. Businesses would be wise to streamline what accounts for such a large portion of their spending.
Today (May 5), KDS releases its latest research on corporate travel and expensing habits. To do so, the company went straight to the travelers themselves, who uncovered where their corporations are falling short across the board.
Step 1: Book Your Trip
When it comes to corporate travel, employees are often left somewhat on their own to book itineraries, from flights to hotels to ground transportation. KDS’ survey of U.S. and U.K. corporate travelers, conducted in March of this year, found that, in the very beginning, corporate T&E processes can be a waste.
Most notably, 44 percent of survey respondents said they can take up to an hour at their desk to plan their trip; that’s a lot of time wasted during the work day, KDS said.
Corporate travel policy can also trip up the booking process. The majority (58 percent) of respondents said their company’s travel policy is clear and straightforward, and most say they are confident that the travel plans they booked are compliant.
But convenience takes the top spot in corporate traveler’s booking priorities, researchers found. Further, with the majority of employees using a travel supplier website for either some or all of their booking processes — instead of using only the corporate travel booking tool — KDS concluded that businesses are not offering enough suppliers under corporate policy to provide employees the choice they want.
Step 2: Get On The Road
The shortcomings of corporate expensing procedures become more pronounced once employees are actually out on their trip.
KDS researchers found that 73 percent of respondents are tasked with keeping all of their receipts acquired on their trip in one place. Just 11 percent said they scan or log their receipts into a system online as they go.
With more than half of employees filing an expense report monthly, KDS noted that employees likely incur a significant number of receipts to keep track of for an extended period of time.
Step 3: File A Report
In addition to gathering all of those receipt slips once a month, employees are facing other challenges in filing their expense reports for reimbursement.
An automated expense report solution was the most popular method of generating a report, researchers found, with 45 percent citing use of this kind of tool. Still, nearly the same amount (41 percent) said they endure a manual process to create an expense report and that it takes up to an hour to do so. Nearly one in five said it can take them up to two hours.
The reports ultimately filed aren’t always accurate, either. According to KDS, 22 percent of respondents round up the mileage they’ve incurred by between one and 10 miles. Especially when these mileage figures are tracked manually, that can mean big fluctuations in the value of an expense that is ultimately reimbursed to an employee.
“Although these may seem like minor inflations,” KDS said in its report, “costs can quickly add up across larger organizations with an extensive mobile workforce.”
U.K. Vs. U.S.
These findings, when broken down by geographical market, are largely consistent between U.S. and U.K. corporate travelers. For instance, 25 percent of U.K. travelers inflate mileage rates, compared to a similar 24 percent of U.S. counterparts. A similar portion of U.S. and U.K. travelers (42 and 41 percent, respectively) report using spreadsheets to file expense claims.
But there are a few stark differences. Most notably, 32 percent of U.S. business travelers use airline apps while on a business trip, compared to just 10 percent of U.K. travelers.
Regardless of these differences, KDS said the survey highlights the ways manual and outdated travel and expense management solutions are hurting corporations in both markets.
“Survey results indicate that many organizations are still utilizing outdated, manual travel and expense processes that are negatively impacting both U.S. and U.K. businesses alike,” the report concluded. “And because of these outdated processes, companies are dealing with productivity and compliance issues and do not have clear visibility into spend or the accuracy of expense reports being submitted by employees.”