Your employees are probably savvy enough to avoid looking like tourists on personal trips.
But beyond the avoidance of fanny packs and selfie sticks, do they know how to operate like road warriors when away on business?
Help your travelers step up to road warrior status by steering them away from these five common business travel mistakes.
1. Neglecting to read travel and entertainment (T&E) expense policies
T&E protocols vary considerably from company to company. And guidelines can change over time.
That’s why you want to make sure your employees are fully aware of your company’s current travel policy before they embark on a trip. You simply can’t assume they know the latest guidelines without a review.
For example, say your employee hits the road without knowing your dollar allowance for meals. As a result, he goes over your set limit consistently. And when he submits an expense report, you have to reject the extra expenditures, leaving him to foot the bill.
Or, say your employee is unaware that your company allows Wi-Fi charges to be expensed while travelling on business. She spends unnecessary time searching for free Internet. In the end, she can’t find free access and pays out of pocket for a connection without reporting the expense.
If you want happy employees, the last thing you want is for them to cover business expenses on behalf of your company.
So before your employees take off, remind them to review your company’s T&E policy and nip this problem in the bud.
2. Skipping out on pre-trip expense planning
Too often, business travelers book their trips and submit expenses for reimbursement upon their return.
There are no pre-approval steps in place. There is no opportunity for budgeting. And there is plenty of disconnect between travelers and their managers.
For road warriors, pre-trip expense planning is a vital step. It’s a chance to get trip costs aligned with the company’s budget before any money is spent.
For instance, before leaving on a business trip, your employee might develop a trip budget that includes:
- $400 for a roundtrip flight
- $500 for three nights at a hotel
- $300 for three days of client entertainment
- $150 for three days of personal meals
With pre-approval on fund allocation, your employees will feel confident knowing how to spend before jetting off to their next destination.
3. Waiting in unnecessary lines
Yes, airline kiosks have streamlined how passengers check in, but nothing beats the peace of mind that comes with checking in for a flight online. True road warriors take advantage of this option with every flight and skip the lines. Make sure your employees are taking advantage of this efficiency.
If your employees travel domestically often, have them apply for TSA Pre✓®. Reserved for frequent flyers of certain airlines, this service allows travelers to speed through the security checkpoints. Program members get access to shorter lines and aren’t required to remove their belts, shoes and jackets at security checkpoints.
If your employees tend to travel internationally, look at other Trusted Traveler programs provided by the Department of Homeland Security. Compare the three options and decide what would make most sense for your employees and your company’s travel needs.
These programs will require an initial screening, interview and fee. But if your employees are frequent travelers, it should save them time, or at the very least, a lot of hassle.
4. Checking luggage
While never ideal, losing luggage or getting held up in baggage claim can be especially exasperating when trying to conduct business. Consider creating a travel policy that requires employees to only bring carry-on luggage for shorter trips.
If you decide to implement this type of policy, provide your employees with tips on how to trim down on their gear so that it fits into a carry-on bag. Here are a few things you might encourage them to consider:
- Research your hotel before you pack. Most hotels offer complimentary hygiene items, while others go further by providing items you might not ordinarily think of, such as gym attire.
- Decide what technology is absolutely necessary according to your business plans. For example, you might determine that toting a laptop, tablet and smartphone is overkill. Or, that you can settle for earphones rather than headphones to save on space.
- Regardless of what you decide to bring, charge your tech devices the night before you travel, and bring your chargers along for the ride. There’s nothing worse than having your productivity derailed by a dead device.
- Be sure your bag and its contents comply with airline standards. Check the airline’s website if you aren’t sure of dimensions or what you can pack.
5. Relying on printed receipts
Road warriors know the value of their expense receipts. It’s how they validate that funds were used appropriately during a business trip.
But gone are the days of relying on the unreliable nature of printed receipts, which are prone to fly away on a windy day, or smudge to the point of unreadability.
Many travel vendors now keep it electronic by emailing trip receipts directly to travelers’ inboxes. Let your employees know to look for this option with hotels, car services and even airport parking lots. It’s increasingly common.
Plus, with the right expense management technology, your employees should be able to quickly forward their electronic receipts directly to their expense reports.
When a printed receipt is necessary, encourage employees with smartphones to take photos and capture receipt images digitally and ditch the paper copy.
If you have an expense management solution with the right mobile app capability, your employees can expedite the process even further by directly attaching their digital receipts to their expense reports.
The less paper your employees need to keep track of, the more they can focus on your business priorities.
Want expense management software that’s fit for a road warrior?
Insperity® ExpensAble® software has what you need. With built-in travel policy controls, employees will quickly understand what is and isn’t an allowable expense.
Plus, when you add the ExpensAble® Plus Prepaid MasterCard®, employees can budget expenses pre-trip on the mobile app. Funds will then be automatically loaded onto the prepaid debit card upon approval.
Managing receipts will be easier than ever, too. With the mobile app, employees can also attach captured receipt images to expense reports. And they can quickly collect emailed receipts using the E-Bin feature.
Ultimately, ExpensAble® software and advisory services can help you control your expenses, analyze your data and make the right operational decisions to drive the success of your business.