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Corporates Lack Visibility Into Travel Spend Methods, GBTA Finds

Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often lack visibility into how their traveling employees are making payments and spending company money, finds a new survey from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Foundation, which was released on Tuesday (Oct. 31).

Highlighting some of the key findings of its 2017 Business Travel Payments Study, which was conducted in conjunction with AirPlus International, the GBTA Foundation found that cash continues to play a significant role in how traveling employees make payments, despite corporate cards and virtual payments gaining traction.

Non-corporate payment methods, like cash and personal credit cards, are commonly used not just for occasional meals while on a business trip, but often for larger expenses like hotels and flights, the report concluded. According to Global Business Travel Association Foundation Director of Research Monica Sanchez, this trend could pose a challenge for businesses.

“The persistence of non-corporate methods like cash, supplier invoices, personal cards or company cash advances may reflect the prevalence of infrequent and non-employee travel,” Sanchez explained. “Regardless of the reason, these methods can pose problems, including reduced spend visibility, making it difficult to both track and enforce policy compliance and to perform back office functions, such as reconciliation and reimbursement as well.”

The report also uncovered a lack of visibility into company credit card use.

According to the GBTA Foundation, while 92 percent of travel managers said their companies do indeed have a rebate agreement with their corporate card providers, more than a fifth said they are unsure of whether their company is meeting spend targets to receive full rebates.

“This suggests many companies do not carefully track the return on investment of their card program,” the GBTA Foundation said in its announcement.

Further, some travel managers admitted they were unsure of whether their companies are being hit with fees when using corporate cards.

“Many times, one team negotiates the payment contract (e.g. procurement or finance) while another team actually executes on that contract (e.g. travel),” explained AirPlus International CEO and President Rebecca Kilby in another statement. “It is critical that these teams work together during contract negotiation to maximize their cost benefits as it relates to paying for business travel.”

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