Savings Against Overall Budget With Managed Business TravelBy Rebecca Morrison
How does using one tool that can book business travel AND track travel-related expenses affect budgeted spend versus actual spend?
Creating a budget and adhering to it can be challenging, especially in a corporate setting in which there are many people making purchases and not all purchases are visible as soon as they are made. Fortunately, technology is making it easier than ever to increase the transparency in spending.
Usually, business travelers have to rely on separate tools to book airfare and accommodations and to track travel-related expenses. This duality makes it complicated for travelers and finance teams to stick to the budget.
So how does actual spend versus budgeted spend for travel change when booking and expensing are centralized through the use of one tool? Read on to find out.
Two scenarios for booking and expensing
Let’s explore the implications of using separate tools for booking and expensing business travel, versus using one tool that meets both needs.
Separate tools for booking and expensing
In this scenario, business travelers might book travel in one place (on an aggregator site like Kayak.com) or in separate places (like an airline’s website and a hotel’s website). These sites and their vendors will have different charging schedules and the traveler will receive receipts at different times.
After they have booked travel, the traveler will have to use a different tool to keep track of expenses while on the road. If they’re lucky, their company will equip them with an expensing tool. If not, then they will have to hold on to receipts and scan them at the end of the trip.
With this method, the traveler uses various vendors and tools for different needs. The finance team doesn’t know how much is being spent when, and if the traveler loses their receipts, spending can be obscured even further, slowing bookkeeping down.
One tool for booking and expensing
On the other hand, the business traveler could use an all-in-one tool for booking travel and tracking expenses. In this scenario, all spending can be tracked from one centralized place.
Companies can even integrate their corporate travel policy into their booking platform with a tool like Lola.com, so that it can be adhered to more easily. Travelers stay in-policy more often than not when the policy is front and center as they book airfare, car rentals, and hotels.
Furthermore, receipts for purchases made through a corporate travel booking tool get sent at the same time. Another perk of using such a tool is that company card privileges can be given to travelers virtually to book travel, which helps finance teams track spending.
Benefits of using an all-in-one-tool
So how can using an all-in-one tool to book travel and track expenses make life easier for finance teams and travelers? Here’s how.
One of the major benefits of having travelers use an all-in-one tool for travel purchases is that it helps finance teams improve the accuracy of their forecasting. If receipts arrive at different times from different vendors, the finance team won’t know how much has been spent and how much is left in order to make adjustments until weeks after the books have closed. This opaqueness makes budgeting a useless exercise since it doesn’t represent what’s actually happening. A comprehensive booking and expensing tool makes spending more transparent so that overspending can be stopped in its tracks. And budgets can be adjusted in a timely manner.
A centralized travel spending tool also speeds up bookkeeping. When road warriors can book travel in the same place that they upload expenses while traveling, they can complete expense reports while they’re on the way to the airport, instead of weeks after the trip has ended. This convenience allows finance teams to track spending, process reimbursements, and close the books much more quickly than if they’d have to wait weeks for expense reports to come in.
How does a centralized tool benefit travelers?
First, it helps travelers stay on budget. When all travel-related expenses are visible in one place, it’s virtually impossible for travelers to forget about purchases they’ve already made. When they see that they’ve already spent $750 of their $1,000 total trip budget on accommodations and airfare, it’s clear exactly how much they can spend on daily expenses.
Furthermore, an all-in-one tool makes it easier for travelers to get reimbursed for out-of-pocket travel expenses. Losing receipts is easy and inevitable. With Lola’s Expensify integration, corporate travelers can upload receipts from their smartphones, so that they don’t have to wait until they get back to the office or to their hotel’s business center to make scans or copies. With a simpler, faster expense reporting process, travelers can be reimbursed sooner.
All-in-one travel booking and expensing tools help improve the accuracy of your finance team’s forecasting and budget planning, inevitably keeping travel costs more on track than they have been in the past. For travelers, these kinds of tools make it easier to stay on-budget while out of the office and they speed up the reimbursement process.