Business travel is getting more expensive. Whether it’s the cost of flights (which increased by 2.9% in 2019) or the cost of owning a vehicle (which increased by 4.9% in 2019), the expenses associated with making sure your employees are where they need to be eventually come back to the company.
As you grapple with your company travel expenses, remember that the costs of travel for work don’t have to be this high. Depending on your travel policy and procedures for your employees, you could be allowing unnecessary expenses to add up over time. A few simple adjustments to the way you manage travel and reimbursement processes will result in potentially huge savings.
In those instances where flying becomes an unavoidable necessity, you’re probably reminded just how expensive it is to fly. There is a method to the labyrinth of airline pricing, though, and with a little insight, you’ll be able to keep your company travel expenses down while your employees soar.
Avoid the Summer Months
This should be a no-brainer. During the summer months, demand is higher for flights as families go on vacation. Of course, airlines take advantage of this by hiking up prices. The same is true for March when spring breakers are crowding up airplanes, too. If you want to keep travel expenses down – and you have a say in the matter – try to book travel during a less popular time of the year for air travel.
Book in Advance
Sometimes for business travelers, you have no choice about when you book your trip. A situation could demand “putting boots on the ground”, so to speak, without much forenotice, and airlines are very aware and take advantage of this. If a route is used often by passengers traveling for business, airlines will start by selling tickets at lower prices early on to tempt leisure travelers and hopefully fill up the plane. As the date of the flight approaches, though, they’ll raise ticket prices with the expectation that business travellers book at the last minute and on their company card.
They know last-minute bookers likely need to be on the flight, and cost will be less of an issue for them. If you can book your travel early, even if it’s just by several weeks, you’ll notice the savings.
Watch for Those Add-On Fees
Despite what your intuition is telling you, the average cost of a plane has actually not risen that much. Of course, throughout the year, prices fluctuate a lot, but it was actually slightly more expensive to book a flight in Q1 of 2017 than it was in Q1 of 2019. Why does it feel more expensive? Airlines are finding more ways to add on to the cost of flying. Whether they’re charging more for checked luggage, carry-ons, in-flight meals, preferred boarding and seating or upgrades, almost nothing in air-travel seems to be free anymore. Between 2007 and 2019, revenue from these ancillary services airlines provide has increased from $2.1 billion to more than $35 billion.
To avoid adding any more of your business’s money to the airlines’ coffers, be very clear in your travel policy about what is and isn’t covered while employees fly. Employees have no qualms about paying for extras with the credit card if there is no explicit rule against it.
Driving for work is a very common occurrence. Salespeople, contractors, home healthcare professionals and other mobile employees are constantly on the move, and there are many more employees in the workforce who are semi-mobile, driving out to job sites or to meet with clients. Most of the time, it’s cheaper to have employees drive their personal vehicles for work and then reimburse them for the mileage. If your company isn’t managing this process appropriately, you could be losing money every mile an employee drives.
Clearly Outline What “Business” Travel Is
The trouble with employees driving their personal vehicles for work purposes is that they also drive them for personal errands, as well. Often, the lines between personal and business activities become blurred. If your company policy doesn’t clearly lay out what kind of travel is and isn’t reimbursable, company travel expenses will add up with the cost of side-trips and detours that have nothing to do with work, and you’ll have no recourse for enforcing a higher standard among your employees.
By updating your policies to properly define exactly what kind of travel is disallowed, such as home commutes or personal activities, you can begin to weed out the trips not eligible for reimbursement.
Require Mileage Logs
If your employees are not recording their business mileage as they travel, this is a huge breakdown in procedure that is likely costing you thousands of dollars each month if you have a large fleet of mobile employees. First of all, if it’s discovered during an audit that your employees have been estimating mileage after the fact for expense reports, this will be seen as a failure to adequately report expenses with records. Your company won’t meet the rules of an accountable plan, and these reimbursements will be taxed as wages. Your employees must maintain an accurate mileage log with recorded odometer readings for each trip to prove the expense is eligible for reimbursement. Keeping a mileage log will also help cut down on excess reimbursement payments caused by rounding up or padding their trip miles.
Manually recorded odometer readings do not totally eliminate the problems that cause company travel expenses to rise, though. To more accurately track your mobile employees as they travel to different locations throughout the workday, an app may the perfect solution for you. An app will more precisely track their trips without the concern of false or exaggerated mileage estimates. You can be sure you’re only reimbursing for the miles driven for business and not extraneous or disallowed travel.
Save Up to 30% With SureMobile
The SureMobile app, from CompanyMileage, takes the uncertainty out expense reporting and reimbursement. While on the go, your mobile employees can quickly enter trips, check in at job sites and submit mileage for reimbursement – all in a matter of minutes.
Our system approaches mileage tracking different than other GPS-based apps. Employees simply input their starting and ending destinations, and SureMileage will calculate the most efficient route for them. Once trips have been submitted, our automated system helps managers and supervisors through the approval process so employees receive their reimbursements faster. Our solution integrates with all major payroll and accounting systems, ensuring a smooth and organized reimbursement process.
In an age where company travel expenses are on the rise, CompanyMileage has helped hundreds of organizes save 20-30% on their mileage and expense reimbursement expenses. Request a demo with us today, and learn all the ways CompanyMileage can bring more efficiency and savings to your company.