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Thursday, 26 April, 2018, 14 : 16 PM [IST]

Real-time visibility facilitates business travel spending

Due to lack of relevant data tracking tools, expenses related to travel in large enterprises has always remained a challenge. Against this backdrop, it is imperative to have efficient travel management system with advanced analytics to convert big data from all new sources into smart data for actionable insights.
Technology innovation has brought about several changes in the functioning of today’s enterprises. But, there are still some processes where companies struggle to bring in efficiencies. Expense management is one of them. Travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses contribute to a greater share in expense management in large organisations. This is set to increase manifold in the next few years. A report by the Global Business Travel Association, expects business travel spends to grow by 6.1% in 2018, up from the expected 5.1% in 2017. The growth statistics are even more profound for the India market. India is the world’s tenth largest business travel market and is likely to clock the fastest growth in this segment in the next five years. Business travel spending is expected to treble until 2030 from $30 billion in 2015 (KPMG report). Key factors contributing to the growth are rise in mobile workforce and accelerated global business collaborations.

Managing this travel spend is a huge challenge for large enterprises. This is due to lack of relevant data tracking tools that can throw useful insights on employee spends. Travel expense management system is data heavy. Information flows from different sources - employee reimbursement, accounts department, vendor invoices, credit card statements. Additionally, travel vendor choices and payment methods are also expanding. As per a BCG-Google report, by 2020 mobile will be the leading mode for travel bookings, with 62% bookings happening through mobile. With players like WhatsApp opening up to mobile payments, the transactions will happen in newer ways. Further bookings through Ola/Uber have also increased as opposed to corporate travel agencies earlier.

While airfare and hotel stay form the larger cost, there are several other micro spends like luggage fare, meals, local travel expenses etc. All these expenses add to the information deluge. To compile information from varied sources into a central management system and draw relevant insights is an arduous task. It is also prone to mistakes, if not done in the right manner.

Despite digitization, most organisations function on old system of expense filing, which requires manual entry of data. Those who have invested in Business intelligence software also struggle to meet new demands of today’s digital economy, due to the large data deluge.

On an average, there is a delay of almost 45 days by the time data entry happens into the system and reconciliation is done. Sometimes, this delay is even more. For example, in case of mobile sales force, they may remain on ground for continuous periods, unable to file expenses on time.

Lack of insights is an impediment to finance and HR teams in taking critical business decisions with respect to employee productivity and organisational efficiency. It can also prevent organisations from adhering to compliance norms.

Efficient travel management system with advanced analytics is hence important to convert big data from all these new sources into smart data for actionable insights. What this essentially means is that organizations will have real time insights into employee spends.

Picture this
If you are a sales head in an organisation handling a 50 member sales team spread across the country. Imagine if you are able to have an instant view into all travel and entertainment related expenses of your team members. You can approve requests for cash instantly, see who are the top spenders and who is more efficient in spends, track how much money is being spent in closing a client or a sales deal and ultimately have one view into the monthly spends of your business unit.

Will make budget planning easier and effective
The insights that you get can further be used to improve efficacy of processes. For example, with appropriate tools, you can set a daily or monthly limit for travel expenses on each employee’s card and ensure that spends don’t exceed that specific budget. Or if you need to increase limit on a card for any ad hoc purchases that can be done instantly too.

Further, organisations can decide on providing guest house facilities in cities most sales executives travel to. They can negotiate best deals with vendors and optimise cost of airfare and hotel bookings.

The possible benefits of real time tracking and analysis are immense. We have tried to include all of these benefits into our Happay Travel and Expense management solution. Happay’s T&E Expense Management Solution helps you not just with travel intelligence and analytics; it helps you with end to end travel management from travel requisitions, bookings, travel policies, travel expense claims and reimbursements and more - all on one digital platform.

India’s leading businesses such as the Adani Group, Oxford University Press, Symphony Ltd. and 4500 more are using Happay’s T&E solution and experiencing substantial savings on business travel.

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.
 
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