The Icelandic volcanic ash cloud has caused disruption to airlines, holiday makers and business travellers across the globe and whilst some stranded people are starting to make their way home, the fallout from the crisis will cause financial disruption for business for months to come. News reports have focused heavily on the cost of the chaos to the airlines and travel industries, but little on the costs to individual businesses. This is an issue that that will come home to roost as soon as employees hit their homeland and start filing expense reports.
Many businesses will have employees stranded abroad in different countries, or even continents, who will have to pay for the additional costs of accommodation, food, transport and even entertainment. Whilst European airspace has reopened, it will take some time for employees to return home so the costs to businesses will continue to increase on a daily basis.
With some travellers expected to be stranded for over a week, it’s likely they’ll have needed to purchase new clothes, or at least pay for the dry cleaning. But who will pay for these expenses? Should these costs be covered by a business or by the traveller themselves? It is in these extreme circumstances when travel and expense policies really hit the spotlight. According to figures from ACTE, 29 percent of travel buyers did not have a specific program and policy in place to deal with this type of crisis.
Barry Padgett, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Europe, Concur comments: “Businesses must have a fair and explicit expense policy for these kinds of events to ensure that the organisation and traveller are not out of pocket when the expenses are claimed in the following months. Now is the time that businesses need to evaluate their employees’ expense claims for fair and reasonable submissions, watch for those claims that may be well out of policy and assess how to deal with the situation.”
Automated travel and expense systems, for the likes of Concur, ensure that you are not put on the spot in these situations. It enables an organisation to have an explicit expense policy for such occasions and flags out of policy claims as they are made, rather than having to sift through each expense claim individually to assess its validity.