If you’ve recently been placed in charge of your company’s travel management, you know instinctively that the expense reporting data is what drives everything. But how do you know if you’re doing it right? Are you delivering all of the right data? If you’ve Googled it, you know by now that every business travel management company’s answers vary, magically aligning with whichever reporting dashboard they’ve designed for their potential customers. You will need a reporting dashboard that has the flexibility to be customized to your usage pattern.
But what are your data reporting needs?
In short, the answer depends on your company’s corporate travel and entertainment reporting policies. Obviously, you need to know how much has been spent, where it’s been spent, and who has spent it. Beyond that, there are many tributaries branching off of that river of data. Not to overwhelm you, but once you effectively manage your corporate travel budget, you are, in effect, impacting your company’s second largest controllable expense, after salaries. When you are familiar with generating and analyzing these reports, you’ll start seeing travel patterns, spending patterns, and any oddities will bubble to the surface, flagging your attention.
You will want the power of your travel reporting data at your fingertips, with the ability to slice and dice the information however you need it. Here are the breakdowns your corporate travel management report should reveal for you and your management team:
Overall travel program performance reporting: How much did you spend on airfare, hotel, rail and car vendors, in gross and net totals? What discounts were applied? Did you lose any discounts due to last-minute bookings? What was your average hotel spend per night? Average car rental spend? Travel frequency to specific cities?
Current reporting: How do our numbers compare against the preceding calendar and fiscal quarters and years? Did we book more hotel nights out of town this year over last year? Did this translate into more closed sales and ROI impacting the bottom line?
Exceptions reporting: What trends are you seeing? Are there deviations in normal travel patterns? Is one team suddenly booking first class travel? When a particular unit in your company is creating exceptions, this will prompt you to scrutinize their individual transactions.
Vendor reporting: This report identifies what you bought, in terms of airfare, hotel and car rental, where you bought it, and who you bought it from. Are there vendors you’re using frequently who aren’t providing deep enough discounts? Are there new areas where you can explore cost reductions? This report can be broken down by organizational unit, geography, or into other categories you and your team find useful.
If your company protocols for expense reporting are in place and your team is adhering to those mandates, this will simplify travel management reporting for you. If you are with a younger company and you are being tasked with establishing these travel expense and reimbursement protocols, this link will ensure you define an Accountable Plan, per the IRS mandates. According to Aberdeen Group, 66% of all best-in-class companies are using an end-to-end solution incorporating travel booking, expense report management, and administrative reporting all in one system.
If you’re a younger company, watch out for our future blog explaining how to set up your end-to-end travel and entertainment expense and reimbursement protocols.
By: Denise D.