Top tips for business travel in Australia

| December 18, 2013

Travelling is an important part of conducting a business. Matt Goss explains how to increase employee productivity and efficiencies while on the road.

Travel is and will continue to be an essential component for any business. Whilst technology is continuing to evolve and provides new means of communication, face-to-face meetings will always be a valuable form of interaction due to the importance of building business relationships.

However, the cost of business travel is sharply on the rise. The results of the recent Concur EIQ report, which analysed $US50 billion of global travel spending, concluded that Australia is becoming increasingly expensive for business travel. Australia secured three of the top five most expensive cities, with Brisbane taking the number one position globally. Growing accommodation costs associated with the mining and energy boom is helping fuel these price increases, which in some cities grew nearly 20 per cent from the previous year.

With the recent fall in the local dollar providing some relief for the short term, Australia will continue to remain expensive, making it essential that employees are productive whilst on the road. One area of every business that needs continuous attention is travel and expense management. Managing employee expenses can often be a time consuming activity for all involved, with outdated and manual processes usually being the primary cause of everything from missing receipts to prolonged reimbursement processes. Consideration should be given to a streamlined, automated expense management system which in turn can not only improve overall efficiency, but provide major benefits to assist both employees and finance departments.

One aspect that is common in automated expense systems is electronic receipts (e-receipts). Moving to a system that incorporates e-receipts will provide instant benefits for all involved. Employees can utilise innovative technology that allows photos to be taken of receipts that are instantly added to an expense claim, eliminating the need to print documents, scan images and/or attach physical receipts.

Utilising an automated system also provides real-time visibility into company spend. Businesses can ensure budgets are not exceeded, assisting with forward planning and relieving resources when end of month reports are due. Furthermore, automated systems ensure that all expenses that are processed are in line with company policy, eliminating expense related enquires to the finance team and decreasing fraud.

A key area that will continue to play an important role in an employee’s daily life is the use of mobile devices, yet some organisations fail to provide mobile technology that assists with managing travel and expenses. By utilising a travel and expense management system with mobile capabilities, the time consuming task of booking travel, submitting, reviewing and approving expenses will significantly improve productivity whilst out of the office.

Furthermore, the capabilities of mobile devices are continuing to create The Perfect Trip for employees. Destinations can be reached with minimal hassle through the use of apps that give travellers the information they need, when then need it. Upgrading flights, ordering taxis and receiving room keys can all be achieved at the click of a button, eliminating the frustrating and time-consuming aspects of travel such as queuing.

As businesses continue to look for new opportunities outside their local territory, it’s essential that travelling employees be given the right tools. Technology is providing a wide range of benefits that introduce new and innovative solutions to gain the upper hand over the competition in many ways. Whether it’s utilising mobile devices, introducing intuitive apps or streamlining business processes through automated systems, we are in an era where change is constant. This change has revolutionised how businesses operate, with new cost efficiencies being obtained as employees give back to their employer by being more productive through using automated services when on the road.

Whilst we may not know what the next break-through invention or software solution will be, what we do know is that if you choose to ignore the technology revolution, you will be left behind.

Matthew Goss is Managing Director for Small & Mid-Size Businesses (SMB) of Concur Australia.He joined Concur in 2002 where he has held a number senior management positions including Country Manager, Concur Philippines and Vice President, Client Services Asia Pacific. Prior to joining Concur, Mr Goss held senior consulting positions with Captura Asia Pacific and Acumen Alliance.