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Guide to Travel and Expense Management Software

By Kathleen Burns, published on Mar 12, 2020
Guide to Travel and Expense Management Software

 

Many globe-trotting workers dream of going on glamorous business trips that feel like all-expenses-paid vacations. And it can be like that at times in real life! But workers in the corporate world know there’s a lot more to corporate travel than just getting on a flight in business class. A lot of careful planning helps get employees where they need to be, safely and within budget. 

The process of booking corporate travel can be tiresome. First, you have to track down good prices. Next, you must make sure all employees are aware of the expense policy and collect the paper receipts from their purchases. Finally, you must submit an expense report (or several!) and see that reimbursement is properly issued. These are all common tasks tied to travel and expense management. 

All too often, these headaches cause undue stress and difficulty. But they don’t have to. Travel and expense accounting software is an amazing solution to get these jobs done without the eternal struggle of manual reporting. You know—the hours you and your colleagues can spend working out every minute detail of travel booking and the subsequent pains of submitting an expense report correctly and on time.

Let’s say it together: thank goodness we can do away with manual reporting. So what are some of this software’s other benefits? And what are some of its features?

Features and benefits of travel and expense management software

Without travel and expense management software, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to booking business trips, tracking expenses, and filing receipts. It can seem nearly impossible to organize at times, especially when trip plans change out of the blue. Luckily travel and expense management software can help lighten your load. 

What are some features of travel and expense management software?

Travel and expense management accounting software often focuses on features. Examples of features these solutions may offer include aggregated ratings on airfare, car rentals, and lodgings, as well as instant price comparisons and 24/7 on-the-go app support and profile management. 

Travel and expense management software allows employees to book their own travel or managers to book on behalf of travelers while keeping track of employees’ travel preferences. Such data means travel managers don’t need to keep a separate record of each employee’s travel preferences and how much those preferences cost. On the flip side, employees don’t need to worry about travel managers booking them on an airline or in a seat they don’t like. 

Expense report software can collate all booking data in one place to easily reference later. And shareable itineraries make it easy for employees to stay up to date on group trips. 

Other features include:

  • Traveler maps that ensure travel managers know where employees are traveling on any given day 
  • Budget tracking and travel policy tools that simplify the expense claim process for both employees and the finance team
  • Automated receipt submission reminders that help travelers submit on time and within company limits

 

Travel and expense management software can transform the entire business-trip experience, from initial booking research to the final cab drive home. 

How can using travel and expense management software benefit you?

When it comes to booking corporate travel, whether for groups or individuals, it’s important to manage employee expenses. From booking flights at the right time, to keeping track of reputable hotels with loyalty programs, you always want to make sure you’re getting the best value for a comfortable trip. 

With travel and expense management solutions, this process can become super simple. The right software solution can help you easily peruse the best transportation and accommodation choices for your trips all in one place. 

Travel managers can track every cent your employees spend on business trips with travel and expense management software. This helps to guarantee accountability and transparency before, during, and after a trip. 

Most travel and expense management solutions include travel policy integrations that allow travel managers to set expense guidelines. Automated expense tracking features simplify the process of filling out an expense report (or a number of them). Plus, software like this can automatically send out notifications to make sure everyone knows when to send in their receipts. 

As an added bonus, employees will be reimbursed faster with this software. That means there will be no more upset workers waiting for their returns. They’ll also feel more comfortable paying out of pocket on business trips, knowing they don’t need to worry about how long their reimbursements will take. This is a management solution that can save you and your employees time and money, which reduces stress.

How easy is travel and expense management software to use?

Travel and expense management software makes booking travel and submitting expense reports simple. Lola.com focuses on creating a user-friendly platform, both on desktop and mobile app to make the process even easier. You can download Lola’s app on either Android or iOS, so its use is not restricted to one provider or device. 

Lola’s customer service team is available 24/7 to help with standard changes and cancelations, travel emergencies, and any questions while on the go. Your travel manager no longer needs to deal with emergencies in the middle of the night, or even in a different time zone. 

Digitizing the travel and expense management process with user-friendly software is much easier than planning business travel with Excel —or worse, pen and paper. It’s faster and collects all the necessary information in one place. 

How to choose travel and expense management software

Dozens of travel and expense management software options are on the market, so choosing the best one for your company can feel like a daunting task. After all, this is what you’ll be relying on to track expense reports and receipts, as well as safe trips for your employees. And you want to make sure you’re making the right investment with your company’s budget. 

What is travel and expense management?

Travel and expense management is the process of booking travel for employees and tracking expenses from all business trips. Business-trip expenses typically involve flights, accommodations, and daily meals. Any business-travel related purchases require receipts (preferably itemized) and submitted expense reports. 

There are different ways of going about travel and expense management, depending on your company’s travel needs and behaviors. Every employee may be responsible for their own travel, or it might fall under the responsibility of travel managers. 

Individual traveling employees are usually in charge of submitting the smaller expenses they accrue to the travel manager. But manual travel and expense management processes commonly run into problems. The most simple and efficient management solution for all things business travel is travel and expense management software . 

How do you know which travel and expense management software is right for you?

There are tons of travel and expense management solutions out there. And you don’t want to end up with one that limits you. The best software for your company’s travel and expense management should be flexible, with different package options available to suit your needs as a scaling company. Pick a tool that has options that will grow with you, so you won’t have to return to the drawing board a year later. 

Consider all the facets of corporate travel you and your team will be dealing with. Do you want to streamline the expense reporting process and simplify your company’s expense policy? Should employees be able to take care of expense tracking on their own? Do you want support for your team at all hours of the day? Maybe you want all three, or different features entirely. The right software for you is one that meets all your needs and more. 

What are the best inexpensive travel and expense management software solutions?

The best solution should cover all your bases without draining your company’s budget. Programs with consistent and transparent pricing will serve you the best. 

Transparent pricing means you always know exactly how much you’re paying and exactly what features you’re paying for. In addition, the best travel and expense management solution should help your employees easily handle bookings with a system that prevents and manages pricing errors before they become receipts for unnecessary expenses.

Affordable travel and expense management software

Finding the right software for your company is important. There’s plenty to consider about your budget, expense reporting, and how you’ll manage travel with a software solution. But adopting a software solution that works for you doesn’t have to be a huge expense or a strain on your company’s finances. 

How much does travel and expense management software cost?

With great variety comes potential costs for travel management software. The best options are those that are affordable but still offer the necessary features to simplify travel and expense management. 

Lola makes their pricing available on the website. Packages start at $125 per month, which includes unlimited booking, access to the entire platform, and 24/7 support.

You can pay for this service on a monthly or yearly basis. And the latter option covers your subscription for the whole year without interruption. There are never any surprise fees.

What are the different cost levels of travel and expense management software?

Like most subscription programs, travel and expense management software can have different tiers of service to suit an array of requirements. Typically, it offers at least three levels of service: starter packages, essential packages, and advanced packages.

Starter packages usually offer basic help with travel and expense management. They tend to work best for smaller companies that have fewer globe-trotting employees. 

Mid-level packages provide a greater depth of travel coverage for management and employees. Businesses with midsize groups of traveling workers benefit most from this kind of package. 

Finally, advanced packages offer what you’d expect from starter and essential packages but for larger teams that see lots of employees traveling frequently. These are designed to cover all a company’s bases, no matter its size, and accommodate rapidly growing businesses. 

You can choose subscription packages based on budget, expected use, team size—whatever makes the most sense for you and your company. 

What are the advantages of using affordable travel and expense management software?

The advantages of using affordable travel and expense management software as a growing company include increased control over travel spend without breaking the bank. You quickly earn back the money you put into your software subscription in the time you save using the app alone. Other advantages are as follows:

  • Time savings from 24/7 support
  • Real-time visibility into travel spending
  • Centralized booking with saved traveler profiles
  • Money savings from negotiated rates on travel expenses, flat-rate subscription fees, and increased spending control

 

Plus, most solutions are available for desktop computers and both Apple and Android phones so they are accessible to all your employees. 

Another advantage of travel and expense software is going paperless. Reduced waste and a smaller corporate carbon footprint are two things that your company can be proud of. 

The software solutions unite employees and management to keep everyone on the same page when it comes to travel and expense guidelines. There will be no more over-budget bookings or ill use of expense claims to deal with after the fact. 

And with automated expense report software, employees won’t have to track down paper receipts later. If they use a corporate card to make a travel purchase, the software automatically submits an expense report. For out-of-pocket payments, employees can upload a picture of their receipts to trigger an automated expense report in the software. 

In essence, travel and expense management solutions can mitigate human error. You can verify data entered into the expense management program without risk. 

These software solutions also offer analytical benefits. Travel managers can see every transaction and claim put into the program to access real-time data that can help them spot trends in spending. This information can lead to more detailed analyses of expenses at the end of a quarter or fiscal year. 

Best travel and expense management software

The internet makes it easy to find reviews and online discussions about products you're thinking about buying for your company. Our recommendation? Start your search on Capterra.

What are the best travel and expense management software solutions?

The most valuable travel and expense management software solutions are the ones that fit your company’s travel needs. Corporate travel costs can really add up, especially when employees are not all on the same page. 

A company can face financial loss when its travel policy isn’t clearly communicated and unnecessary travel expenses—such as hotel upgrades and five-star meals—add up. Financial losses can also result from bookings that don’t consider traveling employees. 

Plus, when a flight is too long or a hotel stay is particularly uncomfortable, employees won’t be at their best to do the work they need to do on a business trip. In those situations, everyone loses.

The best travel and expense management software solutions recognize those issues with manual travel and expense administration and work directly to remedy them. Good software will work with you to make the lives of your employees easier via accessible travel policies, streamlined expense reporting and reimbursement, automated reminders and notifications, and more. 

The best software can also help you find better deals on flights and hotels, helping your company save even more on travel.

Where can you find the best travel and expense management software?

You can find travel and expense management software and apps online and in both Google Play and the Apple Store. Online reviews will help you narrow down the top choices. 

This kind of software has become more popular in recent years as more and more businesses have turned to it to help them cultivate international business relationships and grow more quickly. As such, there’s a lot of discussion about different options available online.

Of course, you can also look up article-length reviews to compare and contrast for yourself. Moreover, there are plenty of different perspectives available in these reviews, so you will be able to find opinions of all kinds on what choices grab your attention. 

If you have colleagues who have experience with travel and expense management software solutions, you should ask them for their opinions and recommendations. But to get you started, we’ve put together a list of some of the most highly regarded travel and expense management apps for your convenience.

What travel and expense management apps rank highest?

Lola offers one of the highest-ranking travel and expense management software solutions and apps. Capterra has given Lola a rating of 5 out of 5

Reviews hail it for being easy to use and offering great 24/7 customer support, which is handy for emergencies. Users have also applauded it for smoothing out the expense reporting process and turning travel bookings into straightforward, worry-free tasks.

But how does Lola stack up against some of the expense-reporting industry’s other heavy hitters? 

On Capterra, Concur Expense has gained some recognition in part for its policy reinforcement and easy receipt-capture features. While it offers a quality expense management solution for larger, more established business, it only has a rating of 4.2 out of 5, losing out due to its weak interest in flexibility and innovation.

Egencia is another mainstay in the industry. Business travelers of larger global enterprises have relied on Egencia for booking transportation reservations, enforcing travel policies, and managing expenses. But compared to Lola, Egencia Alternative scores a meager 3.7 out of 5 on Capterra, losing points on long customer-support wait times and an opaque pricing policy.

If you’re a business traveler, surely you know NexTravel. This software offers end-to-end travel expense management solutions to midmarket and enterprise businesses. But it suffers from an average 3.5 out of 5 score on Capterra due to its gated features—you can only access NexTravel’s best features if you pay for a premium account.

Hopefully, now you’re all set to find the best travel and expense management software solution for your business. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to stop fretting over the difficulties of manual travel and expense management. Take off knowing you have a dependable digital travel and expense management solution at the tips of your fingers.


About the Author: Kathleen Burns