control business travel expenses

Business travel is an integral part of many organizations, allowing companies to expand their operations. However, managing travel expenses can be a tricky task, often leading to budget overruns and financial strain. As businesses aim to optimize their operations and increase profitability, controlling travel expenses has become a top priority.

In this guide, you will explore effective strategies to control business travel expenses. 

Review your Travel Policy 

To control your business travel expenses, you must conduct an evaluation of your existing corporate travel policy. Check whether the current policy aligns with the travel objectives of the company and addresses cost-saving measures.

Moreover, you can identify any gaps that are leading to out-of-policy spending. For instance, travelers’ preferred options might not be available within the policy limits. This may mean you need to take a relook and increase your policy limits. 

You can also introduce travel cost-saving measures in the policy, such as utilizing public transportation when feasible.

By updating the policy and effectively communicating the expected impact on controlling expenses, you can optimize your savings.

Optimize the Approval Process

To effectively control business travel expenses, it is essential to define clear business travel approval processes. You can do so by implementing stricter criteria for approving travel requests and setting up multi-layered approvals. 

For instance, you can ask employees to provide a clear business case that outlines the purpose, objectives, and expected outcomes of the trip. This helps ensure that each trip is necessary and contributes to the company’s goals. You can also implement hard approvals wherein employees can only make a booking with official approval.

Book in Advance

Another key way to control business travel expenses is to avoid last-minute bookings. These bookings tend to be more expensive and can lead to unnecessary spending. 

Research by Google suggests that for U.S. domestic flights, prices are usually low around 21-60 days before departure. In addition, the lowest average prices occur around 44 days prior to the travel date. The research also suggests that flights that depart mid-week are around 12% cheaper than those that depart on the weekend.

However, these patterns may vary depending on the route or season of travel. Therefore, planning and booking early is generally a wise approach to secure more favorable rates.

Negotiate Corporate Rates

Negotiating corporate rates with preferred vendors is an effective strategy to control business travel expenses. By establishing partnerships and securing discounted rates, companies can greatly reduce their travel costs. 

When approaching vendors for negotiations, emphasize the benefits they will receive through the partnership. This may include the potential for an increase in business volume, long-term collaboration, and positive references.

You must also request competitive quotes from multiple vendors to gain leverage during negotiations. After comparing all offers, you can choose the most cost-effective options for your business.

Prevent Travel Expense Fraud

Travel expense fraud can significantly impact a company’s bottom line. When employees engage in fraud, such as submitting inflated receipts, it leads to financial losses. 

Preventing travel expense fraud is not just helpful in controlling costs but also a part of optimizing the business travel management program. To mitigate expense fraud, companies can use an integrated travel and expense management software solution like ITILITE.

With ITILTE’s smart fraud detection system, when an employee submits an expense report, it undergoes an automated review process. The software scans the report and compares it against preset policy rules. It then flags any expenses that do not comply with the company’s travel and notifies the manager regarding the same.

This helps in reducing expense fraud and increasing financial productivity by up to 60%.

To learn more about ITILITE, book a free demo now.

Leverage Incentivization

To promote a culture of cost-consciousness, companies can introduce a travel incentivization program. This program rewards employees for making economic choices when booking flights and hotels. Through an incentivization program, companies provide employees with a percentage or fixed amount of the savings their cost-saving decisions generate.

Consider Alternative Stays

To control business travel expenses, companies can consider embracing alternative stays like Airbnb as a viable option. Airbnbs often present a more affordable alternative to traditional hotels.

Moreover, Airbnb not only helps in cost-savings but offers a unique advantage by providing a homely atmosphere that can enhance the comfort and well-being of travelers. AirBnBs offer amenities such as fully equipped kitchens, living spaces, and separate bedrooms, allowing employees to enjoy a more personalized experience during their business trips.

Sign-up to Loyalty Programs

Loyalty program members often enjoy exclusive access to discounted rates, special offers, and promotional deals. Moreover, these programs allow companies to accumulate rewards and points based on the frequency of travel and the amount spent on eligible expenses. 
These rewards can be redeemed for future flights, hotel stays, upgrades, or other travel-related services. By actively participating in loyalty programs, companies can offset travel costs and maximize the value of their travel budgets.

Manage Unused Flight Credits

Unused flight tickets can indeed result in a substantial financial burden for companies if not managed effectively.  According to a survey by BTN, some companies have a minimum of $1 million in unused tickets. 

Adopting a centralized ticket management system or partnering with a travel management company like ITILITE can help you manage unused tickets effectively. You can streamline the tracking, management, and utilization of unused tickets. The system can also provide real-time visibility into unused ticket inventory, automate expiration alerts, and facilitate ticket rebooking or exchanges.

Utilize Technology for Travel Expense Management

Implementing a business travel management software solution offers many advantages when it comes to expense tracking and reporting. Managers gain real-time visibility into expense reports, enabling them to monitor purchases efficiently. With instant access to expense data, they can track key performance indicators (KPIs) and identify any unusual spending activities.

Furthermore, a consolidated analytics dashboard within the software provides managers with a holistic view of business travel expenses. They can assess the effectiveness of current travel policies, review the budget, and identify areas where changes can be made to control expenses.

Control Business Travel Expenses Efficiently

By implementing the strategies outlined in this guide, businesses can gain greater control over their travel expenses and improve the overall financial health of their organizations. A key tool that you can use to manage expenses efficiently is travel and expense management software.

ITILITE is a cloud-based corporate travel management solution that can help you automate travel expense processes and help in controlling expenses. ITILITE provides real-time visibility into travel expenses, enabling businesses to monitor and track spending as it happens. Moreover, our virtual travel consultant provides you with step-by-step guidance on how to improve your travel program and manage budgets.

To know more about the benefits, book a free demo now.