As part of a recent research, most managers and travel budget owners for small and medium businesses cited managing costs as the primary goal for 2014. The methods companies use to achieve this goal, vary widely within the SMB segment. The travel spend for companies in this group range from less than $2MM in annual US booked travel to $12MM on the high end.
Most SMBs struggle with the same challenges – lack of internal resources to manage T&E, no dedicated travel manager, missed supplier relationships and a general cookie-cutter travel management program setup by the travel agency, if one exists at all. The best of breed companies may have better control on travel spend with elaborate procurement strategies and internal resources that manage the company’s travel program and spend carefully. These resources typically report to the CFO, thus offering the finance office full visibility into spend.
The reason that travel management as a concept is a challenge for SMBs is because there are many factors that drive a company’s travel strategy: travel patterns, international vs domestic, company culture, senior management’s support, business focus and others. Regardless of the status quo, it is never too late for a company to manage its travel and T&E processes more efficiently.
“I don’t believe there’s a company out there that can’t benefit from some level of a managed program,” said Directravel president Sam DeFranco. “When a company feels like there’s a lack of control of their spending and they only have basic expense processes in place, their antenna should be up.”
Several SMBs were focused on getting the right tools and processes in place in 2014. One was in the midst of “designing and implementing a full-scale travel management program,” while others were planning to implement a robust automated expense-reporting system as soon as possible in 2014.
In the various SMBs, even with senior management support, a planned travel policy, TMC relationship and T&E expense reporting solutions in place, companies reported ongoing challenges with compliance. Several of the companies reported their greatest travel management challenge today was to get travelers to comply.
“At larger companies, you’re dealing with a multitude of people that touch T&E,” said DeFranco. “At one company alone, you could have a travel manager, a director of procurement, a director of purchasing, expense management, HR and a risk manager. Inherently, the SMBs simply do not have the same infrastructure, so to compensate for that, the travel management company account manager essentially becomes an extension of the customer.” One company highlighted the biggest travel management challenge as “achieving objectives with limited resources.” It’s a position in which many managers in the small and midsize segments find themselves.
What are your challenges when it comes to managing travel and travel related expenses? What are your goals for 2014? Let us know in the comments below.
Reference: BTN, "BTN's 2014 Small & Medium Enterprise Report, Apr 15, 2014"