Managing delays and expenses makes business travel more effective

By Marten Jagers, November 23 2012
Managing delays and expenses makes business travel more effective

While a number of business travellers enjoy business travel and the opportunities it provides, all the time spent traveling for business can add up to frustration, lack of productivity and, for some, a lack of job satisfaction.

Standing in queues, weathering endless security checks, dealing with delays, or stacks of expense receipts at the end of a trip are all commonly known frustrations of the business trip.

For Australian businesses, it’s a game that their intrepid traveller will increasingly have to grow accustomed, as the focus on multinational or cross border activity continues to grow. 

Business travel gives employees the crucial face time necessary to building better business relationships and extending the company’s reach into new markets.

In this situation, more than ever, time is money. Yet out-of-date procedures and technology threaten to waste it. 

Managing delays

Seeing the inside of an airport for longer than necessary is high on the list of travel time wasters.

Once a trip is booked, employees need to consider the possibility that delays, through missed or cancelled flights, transport worker strikes and weather conditions may derail their tight itinerary.

While many situations are beyond the traveller’s control, controlling how they understand and communicate the delay’s impact back to the business and minimise its effects can save time and money. 

For travellers who experience cancelled or missed flights, having tools on a mobile device which give them important alerts and regular updates, makes managing unexpected changes to flight times easier.

By staying abreast of changes, travellers can re-book their own flights via their mobile device and communicate their changed itinerary to the business.

The right tools keep travellers savvy and in control, which saves them from standing in a long line awaiting a customer service agent to explain the issue and make alternate arrangements for them.    

Expense reporting: the necessary evil!

When it comes to business travel, expense reporting is a necessary evil.

Yet, the last thing an employee wants to do is spend an inordinate amount of time collating and managing their receipts, just as the business is loath to spend precious head hours on compiling and checking the expense claim, post trip.

Through an automated service, cash expenses, like tips or taxi fares can be quickly added to an expense claim, receipt images can be captured with the employee’s smart-phone’s camera.

Credit card charges are automatically made available in the mobile application for reporting. The convenience of mobile solutions also makes it easy for managers to control expenses as they are incurred, allowing them to review and approve booking requests and expense claims wherever they are. 

This automation reduces the total amount of time spent by employees keeping track of expenses. It also increases the accuracy of claims submitted and reduces the chances of human error and employee-driven expense fraud.

Make more time by better management of business travel

Ultimately, delays and unwieldy expense reporting threaten to consume the time a business traveller could otherwise spend on managing and growing the business.

Business travel can only remain an effective means by which a company can build relationships interstate or abroad if these time wasters are minimised.

By empowering employees to control their costs and save time, businesses ensure greater return on their investment in the business travel exercise. 

This is the first in a series of columns contributed by Marten Jagers, Senior Director, Asia Pacific at Concur, a leading provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions.

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