How to Optimize Travel and Spend Management in 2022

What are some of the most cumbersome activities in an enterprise? The processes tied to business travel and expense management can be incredibly inefficient, including everything from booking trips to tracking expenses, filing expense reports, and slogging through monthly reconciliation.

Antiquated legacy travel and expense management platforms make these processes even more challenging. Finance and travel leaders are forced to choose between cost savings and employee experience—usually leaving both shortchanged.

But automating these processes significantly improves visibility and control over spending, and gives business travelers the best experience possible so they’ll want to use the platform. A report from Aragon Research, Shifting to Modern Travel & Expense Management Drives Program Efficiency and Cost Savings, outlines these and other benefits for companies large and small.

Everything Travelers Need in One Booking Tool

The problem for legacy corporate travel management platforms begins at the time of booking. After all, they can be limited by the inventory they offer, often relying on a single Global Distribution System (GDS) for supply. This propels savvy employees to visit consumer booking sites, where they can access fares and rates beyond what the GDS provides.

As the report from Aragon Research explains: “Many employees book outside of the preferred corporate tool, often with the best intentions of getting better options and/or rates. However, doing so diminishes the organization’s visibility into travel plans and purchases, making it near impossible to fulfill duty of care, or to budget, forecast, or control spend.”

But with modern T&E management platforms, it’s a different story. By sourcing inventory from multiple GDS’s and consumer sites, employees have everything they need in one booking tool. They never have to leave the platform to find the best rates or to ensure their loyalty preferences are readily available.

Along with touting the convenience of one booking tool, the Aragon Research report covers essential topics such as how automating travel and expense management can save significant amounts of time and prepare teams for a return to business travel in a post-COVID world.

Understanding Travel Spend in Real Time

A modern T&E platform blows legacy offerings out of the water when it comes to providing greater visibility into employee travel plans and business spend, as the Aragon Research report makes clear:

“Because policy can be set in advance across all manner of business spend, managers can control spending at a level that could not previously be attained, and they can see purchases as they are made rather than waiting until an expense report is submitted. This has a tremendous impact on finance and accounting, as employees conducting financial reviews are able to more accurately budget and forecast.”

With flexible backend controls for spend policy, finance and travel leaders can adapt their programs and policies based on current market conditions and business needs. They’re also better equipped to negotiate with travel suppliers, thanks to accurate data on where the budget is being spent.

A Day in the Life: How Modern T&E Automates the Entire Experience

To illustrate the power of modern T&E management, the Aragon Research report lays out the seamless steps involved when an employee is traveling:

The platform pulls proposed details of the trip, including the purpose and the average costs, then packages the information for quick approval by a manager.

With that approval, the employee can book their trip in minutes via desktop or mobile app, or by contacting a live travel agent via chat, phone, or email.

Thanks to the integration between travel, payments, and expenses, the employee no longer pays using personal funds, but with a one-time use virtual corporate card that helps eliminate expense fraud.

When the employee swipes their corporate card, approved in-policy spend happens at the point of sale; captured information feeds automatically into the company’s financial systems.

In the case of out-of-pocket spend—e.g., cash tips to housekeeping—the employee can easily submit it in the app and receive reimbursement within a day.

In addition to spelling out the benefits of a modern T&E platform, the Aragon Research report highlights how to get started with automation, and who to select as your partner to ensure you’re following best practices.

Key Benefits for Employees and Enterprises

Employees and enterprises benefit greatly with the implementation of a modern T&E platform. Employees enjoy higher levels of satisfaction, health, and safety. For employers, the benefits include:

Greater productivity. Best-in-class user experiences, technology, and support shorten booking times from industry averages of an hour or more to minutes.

Real-time spend visibility and control. The platform offers finance teams the ability to set specific policy around what employees can spend. And when they do spend, finance teams can immediately see what’s being spent and by whom.

Automated expense reconciliation. Businesses can significantly reduce the number of employees assigned to expense reconciliation and auditing so they can focus on high-priority, more strategic tasks.

Want to learn three more benefits for employers and three benefits for employees? Download the Aragon Research report now—and discover even more ways a modern travel and expense platform can drive program efficiency and cost savings.