Travel can be an incredibly stressful endeavor for many people, with a large chain of moving parts that can quickly fall to pieces when compared to a corporate travel plan. When done manually, this process can take days or even weeks, valuable time that businesses could be using to fuel their commerce and grow. With modern travel management companies and travel booking tools, however, many of the processes involved with travel planning can be automated, promoting policy compliance and providing ease of mind for employees. As a business, what are the benefits of automating compliance with travel policies?
What Can Be Automated
While not everything about travel management and policy compliance can be automated, there are quite a few things that make a big difference:
Expense Sheet Preparation
Typically put together by accounting teams or HR departments, expense sheets give business management an outline of where money is being spent and gained, and which sectors of the company spend money the most. When automated, time and space is freed for accountants and HR personnel to focus on work that is more crucial for the business, rather than wasting time on calculating expenditures and savings specifically on travel for every sector of the business.
Expense sheet preparation is incredibly time-consuming, and some departments of a business may barely benefit from manual preparation. Not all parts of a business travel the same amount, and there may be entire departments that don’t travel at all throughout the year, but are still required to be recorded in expense reports. When done manually, expense sheet preparation is a clunky and menial task that can easily be automated to better comply with a business’ needs, as well as open up workers to do work that matters more.
The booking process is central to all travel planning and is typically where official travel planning begins for a business. Including items like lodging, rental transportation, food, and leisure, the booking process is a crucial step in travel management, which can have rippling effects throughout travel. When not automated for compliance with travel policies, the booking process can manage to tack on excess fees, out-of-pocket expenditures, and many other hurdles that businesses would be better off avoiding.
Travel management companies and booking tools are able to achieve automated policy compliance in booking by only displaying compliant options to the travel booker, often promoting compliance without the employee even realizing it. In addition to expediting the process between travel planning and confirmation, automating the booking process saves businesses large amounts of time and potential out-of-pocket expenditures, resulting in large savings on every front.
For businesses that don’t use all of the tickets in their travel policy, unused tickets can build up. These unused tickets can be a significant source of money loss for a business, due to ticket expiration before they can be reused or rebooked. Whether due to a missed connection, a canceled trip, or a business deal falling through, unused tickets are best avoided altogether for a business, though they cannot be eliminated.
Automating the processing of unused tickets is a phenomenal way to maintain policy compliance, as well as manage losses in a company’s budget. Travel management companies will keep track of any unused tickets a business has, prioritizing those that are expiring soonest. At the end of a fiscal year or policy contract, unused tickets can automatically be processed into a value that can then be used as stored funds for future travel. Good travel management companies will inform their clients of non-refundable or pending tickets that should be used immediately, giving businesses some level of foresight into their travel plans. All in all, automating unused tickets is a phenomenal way for businesses to save money and prevent non-monetary losses as well.
Types of Automation
Automation has come a long way, making large changes for businesses around the world. Users generate incredibly large amounts of data on a day-to-day basis, and the data collected when searching for flights, rentals, tours, and more can be used by automation algorithms to tailor a particular process for businesses. Not all automation is built the same, however, and compliance will be calculated differently based on the process used. There are two primary forms of automation a business may encounter, each affecting policy compliance differently:
Rule-based automation, when relating to policy compliance, involves human-defined and curated rulesets, such as which data should be collected, where data should be saved, and how it all should be organized.
Rule-based automation has to be designed by an employee, with relevant rulesets and filters being defined by a business’s travel policy. Time must be taken to define which rules are compliant with a business’s travel policy at the beginning, but once this automation style is set up, very little direct management is required until significant policy changes occur.
With new advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, many travel management companies take advantage of independent, self-learning algorithms to streamline the booking process. With cognitive automation, booking tools can pay attention to what complies with a business’s travel policy, individual employee preferences, market costs, and much more. This automation results in data-driven forecasts to help businesses and travelers analyze their options and make the best choice they can.
Why Should Businesses Automate Compliance
Now that the automation style is defined, and the automation parameters are clear, why should businesses automate at all? There are many short-term and long-term benefits to automating policy compliance, boosting travel management and commerce for companies on every level.
Without automation, travel management requires many individual man-hours, taking valuable time out of an employee’s workday. When properly automated, this time can be used for more productive work that boosts a business’ income, wasting less time on logistical choices when deciding on travel options.
Clearer Expense Management
With a properly automated corporate travel policy, expense management becomes a breeze. Programs can develop full expense reports for financial officers, as well as use big data to forecast potential gains and losses for financial quarters to come. Further, less time is wasted on travel-specific expense reports, letting financial and HR teams spend more of their valuable time on more granular expenditure management.
Better Travel Experience
With automated policy compliance, an employee’s travel experience vastly improves. Choices are streamlined into only policy-compliant options, eliminating the need for employees to constantly reference business travel policies or pay out of pocket for non-compliant bookings. Should any issues arise during travel, automated tools from travel management companies can help employees find policy-compliant solutions as well, giving employees peace of mind that all of their needs will be taken care of, without the need for middle management or constant oversight.
Avoid Incidental Fees and Losses
With travel, there are many incidental, hidden, or confusing fees that businesses may incur over time. From small things like convenience fees or gratuities to more logistical losses such as expired tickets or out-of-pocket spending for non-compliant bookings, these losses can quickly add up for a business. By automating corporate travel policy compliance and management, these incidental losses can be minimized or eliminated, saving the business money and giving a clearer outline of which expenditures are absolutely necessary.
Automate Corporate Travel Compliance and See Growth
Automating corporate travel compliance is a surefire way for businesses to grow. By streamlining the booking process, clarifying the most important aspects of business, and making it easier for employees to achieve and maintain travel policy compliance, businesses will see significant growth in their finances and commerce. These tools are made to let businesses focus on what truly matters to them, letting experts and AI handle the menial and granular organizations that only waste professional time. To make a true change in modern commerce, consider automating corporate travel policies and reap the rewards that are sure to come.