Despite the lagging economy, U.S. companies are still investing in business travel – and they’re paying more for it. New data from Replicon, the market leader in Web-based timesheet and expense management software, shows businesses are spending about $440 per flight, nearly 25 percent more than average domestic airfare of $357, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transporation Statistics. In fact, airfare makes up for nearly half (40 percent) of a company’s overall travel costs. Based on information from nearly 10,000 Replicon users, the Q2 Replicon Productivity Index examined employee expenses over the past year.
“The budget has stayed the same, but there’s been a 12 percent increase in spending between 2011 and 2011,” said Raj Narayanaswamy, co-founder of Replicon. He suggests that the two biggest contributors to this spending increase are booking flights at the last minute, and booking hotels and flight accommodations separately.
“60 percent of travel is planned in advanced,” Nararanaswamy said. “Booking in advance can control these costs dramatically.”
Narayanaswamy also suggests using expense tracking software to see how much is being spent on business travel, and where employees are spending that money. Although 40 percent of spending goes toward airfare, 19 goes toward car and ground transportation, while another 12 percent goes toward food. Knowing this information can allow a small business to set policies, see trends in the spending habits of its employees, and promote those who set a good example when handling a company’s travel budget.
“[Travel spending] is easy to lose control of very quickly,” Narayanaswamy said. “Every dollar can make or break a business. Tracking expenses can help to watch the spending and to influence behavior.
Replicon’s Web Expense software gives companies a hassle-free way to track employee expenses. It enables employees to submit expenses anytime, from anywhere with an Internet connection. Detailed tracking and reporting helps managers ensure that projects stay on-budget. With Web Expense, companies can:
- · Track Expenses Easily with an Intuitive Interface. Users enter expenses in multiple currencies, track exchange rates and tax codes, and can upload digital receipts for immediate processing.
- · Configure Expense Types. Define custom tax codes to automatically calculate the appropriate taxes for each type of expense. Manage multiple currencies and exchange rates for accurate tracking and reimbursement.
- · Manage Project-Related Expenses. Tailor the allowed expenses for each project to ensure accuracy. Track actual expenses incurred against the set estimate to make sure projects stay on budget.
- · Gather Multi-Level Approvals. Set up approval paths that include people at various levels within the organization (up to five levels) and set specific sequences.
- · Create Comprehensive Reporting. Get real-time visibility into reimbursable and non-reimbursable expenses. Configure reports on-the-fly with a dynamic report writing tool. Save and share reports in PDF or Excel format.
- · Set Security and Permissions. Ensure that only the appropriate people have access to data. Assign permissions to individual users or groups based on department, user group, or employee type.