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    How to improve business travel budgeting and planning

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    Budgeting and planning for business travel is a challenge many companies face, but it’s certainly possible to improve your operation without cutting corners and compromising employee safety.

    The rules of travel are in constant flux, so your business can expect careful planning to take precedence over spontaneity. In this article, we explore the following ways your business can better budget for work-related travel:

    • Setting specific expectations for employee reimbursement
    • Controlling road travel costs using fuel cards
    • Ensuring every business trip on your calendar is worthwhile

    Saving money on business travel takes a robust system and effort from your employees. Read on as we outline how to improve business travel budgeting and planning in 2021.

    Set specific expectations for employee reimbursement
    When your employees submit expense reports you see what people have already spent: but is this the most accurate and fair way to handle reimbursements?

    Smart budgeting and planning for business travel should be about clarity — and expense reports alone simply don’t provide enough detail or visibility. Without knowing exactly where your budget is going you risk creating a culture of overspending within your company.

    Business travel is inherently expensive, but that’s not to say you should let things get out of control. Here are some ways to encourage more sensible (and clear) expectations when it comes to travel reimbursement:

    • Specify restrictions: outline clear policies and expectations you have for employees, including things you won’t be paying for (like hotel tips).
    • Explain your policies: LinkedIn suggests the modern workforce look for transparency in the companies they work for, so be open and honest about the new rules.
    • Provide rewards: encourage employees with incentives to stay within the budget, perhaps they could keep the frequent flyer miles or earn a bonus.

    Keeping employees within the travel budget is vital for your business and its plans. By setting clear expectations, you cover blind spots that can otherwise go unnoticed.

    Reduce road travel costs using fuel cards
    Running a vehicle can take an enormous toll on your business’s travel budget, yet it’s an inevitable cost to bear because your team needs a way to get from A to B. Controlling road costs and other related reimbursements, however, isn’t an issue unique to recent years, but in the wake of a pandemic, your company’s purse strings are likely a little tighter than before, meaning you have to cut down big where it counts…

    Fuel is one of the biggest expenses to consider when budgeting for business travel — but how do you keep track and mediate such a variable cost?

    Some businesses use fuel cards such as Fuel Genie or Shell. These tools help regulate fuel payments and provide a slight corporate discount that stretches your budget a little further. Moreover, using the fuelGenie card as an example, it uses a management system your business can access from an app — this helps you budget better and more accurately record running costs during a business trip.

    Providing your employees with a fuel card during a business trip means they never have to pay for vehicle-related costs out of pocket. All transactions are charged to your business account and recorded on a bespoke app, which means there are no big surprises or discrepancies with the budget.

    Ensure every business trip on your calendar is worthwhile
    Do you really need to embark on every business trip? There is a school of thought suggesting the allure of business travel has peaked. Although the pandemic will pass and travellers will likely feel safer about travelling, the demand for such a journey could be diminishing…

    With remote working being standard practice for many businesses at this point, various industries — from fashion to ecommerce — have proven it’s possible to conduct good business without meeting in person.

    Client meetups, for example, needn’t be all that time consuming when can simply host a call on conferencing software like Zoom or Google Meetups. Of course, there are instances where employees are required to make a trip, but try keeping this to a minimum.

    Not only is it costly to cover travel, but it causes a drop in productivity when team members are otherwise engaged. Clear out your calendar and remove any scheduled trips that aren’t strictly necessary: you’ll save money and improve overall efficiency in the business.


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    Lisa Carter

    All stories by: Lisa Carter