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Business travellers still shuffle paper when filing expenses

Posted: 27 July 2021
Business-traveller-buried-in-expense-receipts

Picture a business traveller filing their business trip expenses such as airfare, car expenses, dry cleaning, parking fees, taxis and business meals. Does it look like this: find receipts, match the actual costs, tape, staple and scan? Let’s face it, filing expense reports is a process people dread much more than business meetings. Egencia has improved and accelerated the expensing experience for travellers, travel managers and businesses by putting everything travellers need in one place — from whether expenses are transaction-based or tax-deductible, down to reimbursement of course. However, there are still things that both travellers and travel managers can do to gain even more efficiency when it comes to filing expense reports.

How can business travellers improve the expensing experience?

According to the Egencia Business Travel and Technology Survey, 41 percent of global business travellers submit business travel expenses via paper forms when returning from their business destination. By comparison, 34 percent file via online expense sites, and 19 percent use mobile apps. On average, the global business traveller spends 22 minutes filing expenses for a three-day trip — twice as long as they want to spend. Despite the introduction of expense sites and apps, the user experience has not significantly changed. Most expenses systems are developed with the intent of optimising accounting flows with a secondary focus on solving user needs. And while an overhaul won’t happen overnight, there are actions that both employers and employees can take to improve the experience and regain valuable time. Encouraging all travellers to use corporate credit cards will help businesses reduce the time (and headache) of pulling together scattered expenses from common travel deductions and necessary expenses, like meal expenses. Thirty-three percent of business travellers currently use personal cards exclusively, which can also complicate the range of deductible business expenses.

How can businesses and traveller managers improve the expensing experience?

Traveller managers and business owners looking to simplify the submission process should also consider using an expense provider that allows travellers to sync their online/mobile solutions to their corporate or personal credit cards. Consolidating credit card transactions directly into an expense system in just a click, creates a more seamless experience for travellers. Thirty-six percent of travellers say that finding and gathering receipts, such as receipts for meals, hire cars and entertainment expenses, is their least favourite part of submitting expenses when they get back to their main place of business. This solution is also easier on travel managers when reconciling company travel data for the company’s books and tax returns. According to the Charlotte Business Journal [1], 25 percent of workers had committed errors or violations in their expense reports such as incorrect costs, misallocation of related expenses for business purposes, personal expenses and incidental expenses that were filed too vaguely. As a result, auditors recommended linking a corporate card to an expense reporting programme, among other technology upgrades.

An improved expensing experience with Egencia

Recognising the need to give time back to travel managers and travellers — making business-related travel costs easier for all parties to manage — Egencia gives users everything they need for streamlined expense reporting in one place, i.e., travel bookings, credit card transactions and expense management. We work with small business and international corporate accounts to make sure that business activities, and actual expenses, are easy to record moving forward. This also makes it a lot easier during tax season where, for instance, HMRC filing can be a lot easier to do when all the tax deductions and expenses are ready to file.

Another key component of the Egencia expenses solution is the Egencia Open Connect Platform. The framework expands the market for expenses providers by ensuring data exchanges between partners are successfully completed. The Egencia Open Connect Platform is rapidly growing with 29 partners to date, including Coupa, Expensify, Microsoft, and Mobile Expense.

[1] Erik Spanberg. ‘Audit: 25 percent of city workers tested had errors in expense reports’, Charlotte Business Journal, 2017.

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