Business Travel Solutions: What is the Key to Hassle-Free Travel Approvals

Venkat

January 3rd, 2019 Travel Management  

When salespeople attend conferences and trade shows and meet with prospects, it translates to more business and increased revenue. As these new opportunities open up, it also opens the gate to a new set of administrative tasks that require a great deal of time and resources. When not handled properly, this can lead to unnecessary expenses and misuse of the organization’s resources.

Starting from requesting a business trip to handling travel reimbursements, there are a lot of moving parts. When these processes aren’t handled meticulously, you may end up paying much more than you initially planned to. You want to make business travel as stress-free as possible for your employees, so they have a productive trip while ensuring there aren’t any unnecessary expenses. There’s a fine line between cutting costs indiscriminately, and doing so while still making life easier for your employees. Business travel solution helps you tread this line carefully.

What Is a Business Travel Solution?

Business travel solutions help businesses book tickets and accommodation, letting them create accurate, real-time itineraries. They also provide corporate guidelines, enforce them, and guide them through an approval flow. The solution captures the expenses incurred during the trip and makes it easier for employees to submit reimbursement claims.

How Do Businesses Handle Business Travel?

Medium and enterprise-level businesses generally have at least some of the parts of a business travel solution.

Here’s how the process flows in a typical business:
  1. Setting Up a Corporate Travel Policy
  2. Submitting the Travel Request
  3. Approving the Request
  4. Submitting the Travel Expenses
  5. Reimbursing the Employees
1. Setting Up a Corporate Travel Policy

Using corporate travel solutions begins with deciding which teams get to travel, and on what purposes. You need a set of guidelines in place, listing those expense categories that can be reimbursed. This will deter employees from submitting personal expenses for reimbursement.

You can also list preferred vendors (airlines, hotel chains, etc.), airline classes, and define a maximum limit on spending. You can also set a per diem for traveling employees.

2. Submitting the Travel Request

Employees and managers can request permission for a business trip through a corporate travel solution tool. They enter trip details, itineraries, and estimated costs and send it for approval.

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3. Approving the Request

Managers or the finance team ensure that the request adheres to the company’s travel policy. They go over the trip details with a fine-toothed comb and iron out the wrinkles.

4. Submitting the Travel Expenses

Employees record all the expenses incurred, and submit them to the finance team for reimbursement through the business travel solution.

5. Reimbursing the Employees

The finance team ensures that all the submitted expenses are compliant with the company’s travel policies and then approves the claim. The employees are then reimbursed through their regular payroll, or in a separate paycheck.

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How Can Businesses Provide a Better Travel Experience?

Travel managers often focus on trying to cut down expenses. Sure, a flight with an eight-hour layover is cheap, but if the employee gets to the client’s office jet-lagged and exhausted, is the trade-off worth it?

Employee Experience Matters

Businesses, more than ever, are trying to create memorable travel experiences for their employees.

In fact, 8 out of 10 employees say the quality of their business travel experience impacts their business trips’ results and their overall job satisfaction.

Non-stop flights and shorter travel times are as crucial as any perk. Little things, like a seat upgrade or a nice meal at the end of the trip, can make a lot of difference to business travelers. They get a morale boost and you’re empowering them to do great work.

Give Flexibility

Employees should be trusted with a level of independence when it comes to business travel. Some companies allow employees to book their own flights and reimbursed later. This gives them the flexibility to travel according to their convenience. While there’s a chance of employees going rogue, the fact that you trust them with something as important as this tells them to be more responsible.

Empower Them With Tools

How many times has an employee come back from a trip and forgot the receipt for their morning coffee? It’s crucial to provide travelers with software that can help them track expenses and submit expense reports without making them spend a lot of time on it. A mobile app comes handy and you can ensure that each expense is accounted for.

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Make Reimbursements Faster

Expedite the reimbursement process by making approvals faster. You can automate travel approvals up to a certain limit when it falls into specific expense categories. When approvals get faster, employees can get back their money faster.

DIY vs. Dedicated Corporate Travel Solution

In the case of small companies, where one or two key people make business trips, there’s might be no need for a corporate travel solution. There’s no need to request approvals or reimbursements. Even if there is, the process isn’t as complex as in a bigger organization.

However, this is not the case in larger organizations. Some medium businesses use spreadsheets or print templates from the Internet to fill their travel requests, and emails for communication. Others use dedicated business travel solutions to help them with bookings and reimbursements. Some enterprises use Travel Management Companies (TMC) to outsource all the headache.

However, these systems don’t always accommodate all your requirements when your road warriors grow in size. You’re required to work around the existing structure of the tool, which defeats the very purpose of using such tools. TMCs, on the other hand, work great even if you scale, but the cost can skyrocket out of control.

Best of Both Worlds

A good alternative to both of these options is a workflow automation tool like KiSSFLOW. It can help you build your own travel management solution, without coding. All you need to do is identify your processes, build the forms required for each, set a workflow, and implement them in KiSSFLOW. You can always modify these quick applications, as your needs change.

With a DIY business travel solution, it can keep your travel chaos-free without the high costs associated with outsourcing to an agency. You can rest assured that you have a system that keeps your business travel woes at bay.

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