Before the pandemic no one really took a second thought about travelling for business or pleasure. But it’s highly likely that for cost, safety and climate reasons, companies will be making hard decisions about the travel that’s necessary to do business.
Although many employees enjoy travelling, face-to-face meetings with clients or prospects, visiting new places and working in different settings can be quite taxing.
For those who need to be on the road again, here’s 7 best practices for business travellers and their companies.
1. Know your travel and expense policy
Most companies will have a travel and expense policy that sets out what they are permitted to claim for, including flights, hotels, meal allowances or anything else that requires approval. It’s important to understand what’s in the policy, and of course, what isn’t covered either.
If using a travel and expense management system, policies can be built into the booking and claim processes to warn and prompt if anything is done outside of the policy. Some organisations use dynamic travel policies that allow for flexibility on what’s permitted, something that’s more essential in an uncertain world.
2. Make sure you’re equipped for all eventualities
Post-pandemic travellers will need to carry extra essentials in their luggage. It’s likely that masks and hand sanitizer will be used for the foreseeable future. Travellers should make sure all their travel information is to hand, with emergency numbers available if changes arise. Stress from last-minute communication around flights can throw even the most seasoned travellers off track. Using a mobile travel management app means that everything you need is available at the tap of a button.
3. Know the safety rules of your destination country
Something that’s necessary now and may persist in the short term is the need to understand the safety rules of your destination country. Are tests needed before flying, on arrival, days after arrival and so on? Company travel managers and travellers will need to ensure they are well equipped with all the latest information.
4. Get maximum value from of each trip
What’s going to be much more important when business travel returns is the need to make the most of each and every trip. Managers aren’t going to want to approve a single meeting trip. Imagine taking a flight from London to New York only to meet with one customer? If making the long-distance flight in the first place, businesses are going to want their travellers to maximise that trip by scheduling as many high value meetings as possible. Likewise, travellers, used to home-based remote working may themselves wish to make fewer individual trips.
5. Pay by credit card wherever possible
If your company issues a corporate credit card, use that whenever possible to pay for business-related expenses. Corporate card schemes that link directly to your expense management system saves everyone time and speeds up the reimbursement process. If you don’t have access to a corporate card then make sure to have a personal credit card so that any spend doesn’t immediately put you out of pocket.
6. Photograph your receipts
Get into the habit of photographing your receipts. Occasionally receipts go missing, but if you have a habit of losing them, this could create distrust amongst finance with your expense claims. So photograph your receipts, no matter how small the expense. And to go a step further, if you can photograph the receipt and upload it into your expense management system, you can save it for later or submit it on the go. It not only saves you time but space in your wallet/purse too.
7. Submit travel expenses swiftly
Following on from the previous point, a great habit for travellers is to submit expenses on a regular basis – and even better, as you’re incurring them. Not only does it help you keep track of everything you’ve spent and keep receipts in the right place, but it also helps finance teams to manage cash flow and track outgoings. If you save all your receipts up to submit on an irregular basis (we’ve known of people who did them once a year!) then you cause a major headache for finance who suddenly have $000s of unexpected expenses to pay out.
Some older style expense management systems expect you to submit “reports” where you add multiple receipts to a report before submitting them. But this can cause headaches – especially when a whole report is rejected on the basis of one missing receipt or inaccurate expense. More modern systems allow you to submit as you spend on an item by item basis. Ideally using a mobile-enabled expense management system means that you can capture expenses on the move and even have the app scan your receipts.
Making a great business travel experience
One of the biggest complaints frequent business travellers have is confusion around bookings, travel details, expenses and their status for reimbursement. Making a great business travel experience involves providing a travel booking and expense management system with automation capabilities and mobile capabilities that manages travel and expenses quickly and efficiently and shows in real-time how much you’ve requested, spent and reclaimed.
Some companies are using travel and expenses within their CRM system so that for regular travellers (who tend to be those in commercial and customer-facing roles who have to capture much of what they do in a CRM system) there’s just one place they need to go to for everything related to their customer visit. It also allows employees to capture those travel bookings and expenses against business reasons like opportunities or accounts.