When surveyed, an unexpectedly high number of executives in Canada and the United States say their business is sending more talent abroad to build international links of cooperation. But there is a downside to this: Travel expense report data is still largely maintained on paper.
When you are ensuring that a travel expense report is done correctly, there are many different categories of expenses you might have to capture. As a general rule, any expense related to business is “fair game,” but let’s have a closer look.
Travel expenses that might be relevant to a business include:
— Expenses related to the actual act of travel, such as airplane tickets or ship passage fees.
— Attendant fees and taxes related to the above, such as baggage handling and check fees.
— Customs fees for bringing business-related items and materials across national borders.
— Internal transit fees, such as public transportation while abroad, or even taxi rides.
— Lodgings while abroad, including some portion of the meals the traveler eats.
— Some portion of expenses related to entertaining and dining with clients.
Looking at it this way, it’s easy to see how a travel expense report form can be very difficult to fill out. In addition to all these categories of expenses, business travelers also need to be highly alert to “variables.”
Travel “Variables” Make Efficient Travel Difficult — Unless You Use Software
Imagine that you are traveling throughout Asia. While visiting different facilities in the region, you have eight different lodging arrangements. You have to cross national borders sixteen times, or perhaps even more, to get where you are going.
Likewise, you will also have to eat in each location. Many of the locations may not be able to offer the kind of receipt that you would normally need for reporting. Some will give you receipts, but you will have to keep them for the duration of your journey.
Throughout all this, you might find yourself using a dozen different currencies. If you backtrack to one destination more than once, you could find that the value of the currency has changed in some significant way in the course of just a few days.
With software, each of these problems can be addressed:
— Lodgings and transit expenses can be recorded and monitored for any “red flags.”
— Receipts can be scanned and captured for virtually permanent retention or display.
— Currency differences over time can be accounted for automatically without research.
With all of this, your business travelers can easily apply for any reimbursements they need, and you can save money by verifying the veracity of all such charges. If you are still using a manual travel expense report, it may be time to make the switch.