Business travel is a top indirect spend area for many companies and could be challenging to manage efficiently without the right digital tools.
Today’s fragmented approach means adherence to travel policies is irregular, ‘on-trip’ spend like meals and taxis are rarely managed, and a reliance on manual expense claims burden travellers, finance teams and managers with administrative tasks.
A new era in business travel is emerging to support hybrid working, with companies focused on how travel can deliver maximum value in this new environment.
That’s why Amadeus commissioned experts from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) to model the economic benefits should the industry apply the latest in end-to-end digital spend management technology.
Based on research with corporate travel and finance teams from large companies in the US, UK, France and Germany, CEBR’s work highlights the economic opportunities of digitally transforming travel and expense.
According to the study, end-to-end digital spend management delivers economic benefits in two primary areas:
- Productivity improvements for travellers, managers and finance teams from digitalising expenses save 147 minutes per expense claim, equating to 188,000 full time equivalent employees and $20.6B in gross economic value across the four economies.
- Direct travel spend efficiencies result in savings of $31 billion or 8.2 per cent of direct travel spend made by large companies across the four markets. Savings are achieved through reductions in fraud and error, as well as more consistent application of company travel policies.
End-to-end digital spend management completely reinvents how companies pay, account for and manage travel.
Rather than travellers paying and reclaiming, instead the traveller is provided with a virtual card containing a pre-agreed budget for the trip.
The virtual card is stored on the traveller’s smartphone so they can easily pay with the company’s money while traveling.
Not only does this mean travellers no longer need to submit expense reports, but also that finance teams gain efficiencies in three key areas:
- Account, audit and reimbursement: with all spend made using virtual cards and running through the company’s own bank, the process of reconciling payments to bookings is automated. With a single source of spend data, corporations can apply new technologies like AI to automatically audit travel expenses.
- Control, budget and forecast: because travellers are provided with a virtual card for a pre-agreed amount, based on the nature of the trip, expenses are controlled in advance. Finance teams can accurately understand travel spend based on virtual card budgets already assigned, rather than trying to estimate the cost of travel at the end of the month.
- International VAT reclaim: with options to enrich payments data with specific line items from hotel and other receipts, finance teams no longer need to chase down specific information from travellers and providers in order to reclaim international VAT.
The historic expense and reclaim process, which relies on travellers paying with their own money, enhances scope for fraud, error and out of policy travel spend.
By replacing employee payment methods with a virtual card for a pre-agreed budget, CEBR found that end-to-end digital spend management could save corporations $31 billion in annual direct travel spend.
Rudy Daniello, executive vice president, Amadeus Cytric Solutions, commented: “This study makes a strong economic case for an end-to-end approach to spend management digitalisation.
“Massive digital transformation is coming at exactly the right moment to answer the need for more efficient and intelligent business travel that companies can better justify, measure and control.”
A more detailed presentation of CEBR’s findings and the impact of end-to-end digital spend management is available in the associated report.