Business leaders across the globe corroborate that business travel costs are hard to predict and control.  The Global Business Travel Association predicts that corporate travel is expected to rise to $1.7 trillion globally by 2022; it’s imperative that businesses optimize and spend smarter. In this blog, we will discuss some tips that can help companies gain visibility and control over business travel costs and eventually reduce expenses.

Digitize Travel and Expense management

With more and more business trips happening every year, employees find it increasingly difficult to keep track of their paper receipts and expenses. Traditional methods of reporting don’t have features to optimize spending with little or no insight on spending trends and policy violations.

With expense management software such as Zaggle Save, employees can submit expenses on-the-go by simply clicking a picture of their receipt. Advanced OCR technology and an easy-to-use mobile app digitize and simplify submitting expense reports.

Use prepaid cards

Prepaid cards are an effective way to control expenses while giving employees the freedom to book. A prepaid card can help ensure that your team stays within the budget.

Many expense management solution providers offer corporate cards. Zaggle, for instance, offers the Zaggle Zinger Card, a Visa-powered physical card, that works like a debit card. It is a secure multi-wallet card which is linked to multiple cloud accounts. The employee data is uploaded on to their expense management dashboard which is in turn linked to individual cards. This makes the addition and disbursement of funds hassle-free. Even better, this allows employees to access funds for the specific applications.

Manage Bookings

Trying to accommodate the preferences of individual employees for business travel can be very challenging. Getting employees to manage their bookings by themselves simplifies the logistics.

An expense management solution integrated with third-party booking services can provide employees a comprehensive view of their options that adhere to company policies. If the travel is for a conference or a workshop with several employees travelling at the same time, you can have the travel-desk book the tickets in bulk.

Air Travel

Flight tickets are usually expensive and the closer one books to the date of travel, the higher is the price. Having the travel desk set a deadline for airline reservations and ensuring employees abide by it makes it easier.

Mostly, a single website is the preferred option for booking. Employees must be encouraged to compare airfares and book cheap but convenient ones from the options available. In addition, the airline’s own website often offers really good deals that should be checked.

Partnering with the airlines or booking directly at the enterprise level offers all employees corporate discounts and other perks such as extended deadlines for ticket cancellation, waived ticket cancellation fees, free meal onboard, lounge access and so on.

Figuring out the best time for travelling cuts down on cost significantly. Having the travel desk schedule all events and networking sessions apart from urgent meetings during off-seasons definitely optimizes the business travel expense.

It is essential employees pack light and avoid paying for excess baggage that the travel desk will later reimburse. Having rules in the company policy about baggage allowance will be helpful. Adherence and compliance to the company policy becomes a cakewalk with an expense management solution.

Accommodation

Booking in advance helps in saving money and ensuring employees are booked at comfortable accommodation. Sticking to tried and tested chains work best. These hotel chains are more likely to offer good deals and discounts for loyal customers.

However, it is also essential to compare prices before booking. The travel desk can call preferred hotels and offer them competitive prices. Most times this will result in a much better deal at your preferred hotel. In case of a conference or workshop having all employees at the same hotel will minimize costs and transportation.

Modern expense management solutions can collate information from different websites and present cheap, convenient options for employees. With access to data on previous trips, the software can further recommend and suggest options for hotels.

On-ground expenses

From fuel, parking, and on-ground transportation, expenses pile up after getting off the plane. Using prepaid cards like the Zaggle Zinger card for fuel and meals will be helpful both for the employees and for the travel team in coordinating expense management.

Reserving parking through websites that offer discounted rates is a good way to cut down on parking costs. Moving from the airport to the accommodation is often a hassle which can be overcome by pre-booking cabs along with the flight. Coupling these two services via travel websites or the respective airline’s website brings down the total cost of these two services.

Other things like signing up with a cab company for a corporate account will make on-ground transportation easier and much more cost-effective. Such partnerships can be further facilitated with a fully-integrated expense management solution.

Meals

Doing a fair amount of research is necessary for this. Food varies geographically while employee preferences and allergies tend to stay more or less the same. Offering suggestions on where to dine and setting a budget for meals based on real prices is the best way forward. Expense management solutions can have integrations with third-party apps to give suggestions for meals while leveraging the business trips data.

Offering per diem which can be split into meals, accommodation, transportation, and incidentals can be effective. This sets limits around meal spending instead of reimbursing for meal expenses. Additionally, the spending limits are more real as there is no safety net of surplus cash to dip into.

Ensure compliance with company policy

Making it compulsory for your employees to follow the company policy on travel expenditure will eliminate a significant portion of unnecessary expenses. It will further curtail reckless spending and help in prudent decisions.

It is imperative employees fully understand the company policy. Educating them on the dos and don'ts of business travels and what is covered in reimbursements goes a long way in curtailing expenses. For instance, explaining that mini-bar services are not covered by the firm prior to the travel saves the hassle of having to explain that after the money has been spent. Offering pro-tips on limiting room service and avoiding hotel restaurants as they are pricier is always helpful.

Offering incentives to employees who save money on business trips is a great way to cut down on travel expenses. In most cases, employees don’t have the motivation to save the company money as they would rather travel in comfort than cut corners. Some firms offer an incentive plan where a percentage of the unspent money from the travel budget is credited to the employee. This can be used to upgrade subsequent travels or can be spent at the employee’s discretion. This approach is always better than penalizing employees for violations.

Start your savings today with Zaggle Save

By automating and digitizing expense management for your company, you gain visibility into where you’re spending the most amount of money. This insight helps your company analyze employee habits, reconsider company policies, and curtain spends where possible without compromising the comfort of employees.

Are you ready to automate expense management? It’s easier than you think — sign up for free in just 10 seconds and set up your company account on Zaggle Save.