Setting Travel Expense Limits for Your Employees

Business travel might be a necessary expense, however there’s no doubt that it can be a costly one. According to Certify, companies spend almost $112 billion on domestic travel each year, with employees spending about $949 each year on business travel costs. By implementing travel expense policies and applying some money-saving strategies, you’ll start slashing those hefty costs.

Establish a travel policy

The first step to curbing travel expenses is to set a companywide policy, as Aleda Schaffer, strategic partnerships manager with American Airlines, shares with Entrepreneur. Browse the internet for free travel policy templates you can download and modify to suit your business’s goals and financial resources. The travel policy should outline thorough details for multiple procedures. For example, you might include a per diem cap in the travel policy document. This simply means there is a daily maximum expense an employee can make during each given day of a business trip.

Distinguish a travel planner

Depending on the size of your company, designate one staff member as a part-time or full-time travel manager. If you’re tight on resources and low on staff, consider finding a virtual assistant who can perform this function for your corporation, as Schaffer recommends. This will help streamline travel plan procedures and provide an extra level of accountability for employees when mapping out their next conference or tradeshow excursion.

Electronic planning and tracking

Multiple cloud software apps are available on the market to help simplify your company’s travel expense processes. This technology can make it easier for employees to import expenses and track mileage, and some even let you scan receipts via your smartphone. Zoho Expense, Certify Now and Xpenditure Small Business are three of the best apps according to consumer reviews.

Sign up for rewards programs

CNBC contributor Chris Morris recommends booking reservations with the same hotel chain and airline when traveling, and to inquire about rewards programs offered by each. It might be possible to earn points that can go toward travel costs, which could result in a free night at a hotel or a cheaper flight.

Make reservations early

One of the biggest ways to keep travel costs low is to make reservations well ahead of time. Last-minute travel can rapidly increase business trip fees. As Morris shares, businesses can save an average of $148 per airline ticket by booking the ticket at least eight days before the departure date.

Require authorization for last-minute bookings

If certain employees tend to make last-minute travel reservations, consider adding a booking policy to your business’s corporate-wide travel expense procedure document. The Balance contributor Susan M. Heathfield explains an incident where an employee booked a $1,200 plane ticket two days before an event. This same ticket would’ve cost just $300 if the employee had booked it a few weeks in advance of the travel date instead.

By proactively limiting your employee’s travel expenses and adopting some cost-saving policies, you can enjoy the positive outcomes of staff business trips while enhancing your company’s overall profit.


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