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Travel & Expense

It’s time travel managers adapt T&E policy for the sharing economy

on July 26, 2017

The Economist had an interesting read on corporate travel and the sharing economy. The article looks at a Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) survey that found:

  • Businesses allowing their employees to use ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft increased by nearly 15% since last June
  • Workers that book lodging through Airbnb and similar services increased 20%
  • Half of corporate travel policies still don’t explicitly allow employees to use ride-hailing apps
  • 70% of policies make no mention of using home-rental services

There are more and more travelers actively participating in the sharing economy, yet the companies they work for are not adapting and sharing in the optimism of these technologies.

As I travel often for Oversight, I see a clear trend in the use of these apps/technologies. They are easy to use and, in many cases, cheaper. There is undoubtedly an appetite for sharing economy innovations. Yet, as noted by the GBTA survey, half of all companies don’t accept these shared resources as viable choices for employee T&E spend.

As we discussed in a recent blog post, business travel is growing and so are the costs, and as costs rise travel policies tend to get tighter. What is hard to understand in all of this is how organizations can afford to stay tied to old policies that are clearly wasting dollars. The reasons for this could be many, but I won’t walk through every potential option. Instead, I want to focus on one glaring issue – the lack of regular spend monitoring or automated T&E spend monitoring.

Having automated transaction monitoring allows for consistent analysis of travel spend. This visibility into your data helps to create better policies and deliver overall T&E savings as much as three times as compared to those not using advanced data analytics. Diligent, purposeful monitoring of T&E spend can save valuable time and money.

For instance, through better analysis you may see a trend like Uber usage in New York is on the rise while the costs associated are less than all those using taxis. Why wouldn’t you change your policy to allow for a more convenient and cost-effective solution for those that travel for the company? On the other side of the coin, the same may not be true in Topeka, Kansas where taxis could be cheaper to use. Having real-time analysis of the costs and usage data can help you make better-informed policy and business changes now.

Innovation is driving this conversation on both sides of the travel experience—the traveler and the travel manager. T&E managers are challenged with ensuring global policy compliance among anywhere between 1,000 to 20,000 employees. This isn’t easy, but continuing to use outdated policies that don’t account for what travelers want will not help meet today’s challenges and costs. Adapting your policies to the benefit of your travelers and your bottom line is just good business.

Could your T&E program benefit from advanced data analytics? Sign up for a demo of Insights On Demand to see how.
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