Many business travellers are still using costly and old-fashioned travel and expense (T&E) processes, according to a new study.
More than half of the respondents, 51.2%, admitted some of their business trips, in retrospect, are not worth the time or cost involved.

Furthermore, 55.5% acknowledged that on several occasions they would have reconsidered business trips had they known in advance the
total cost – including travel, accommodation and other expenses.

The research also reveals that expenses typically go unquestioned by employers – 56.1% of respondents said their expenses are rarely queried and 28% of respondents said their expenses are never questioned at all.

The results come from a global survey by T&E management systems supplier KDS based on opinions of 164 T&E professionals and regular travellers mainly based in France, the UK and the US.

Chief executive Yves Weisselberger said: “There are just as many people submitting expense claims on paper as there are employees making online expense submissions, a total of 43.3% of respondents in each case.

“That’s an extraordinary statistic in the year 2010. With so much scope for increased automation in the T&E arena, therefore, it’s easy to see where many companies need to look for greater cost efficiencies.

“Paperwork, in a computerised world, is costing staff and employers time and money.
“Too many businesses and organisations continue to underestimate the financial importance of strong T&E management.

“More than half of the respondents to the survey said their organisations make no attempt to quantify the benefits of T&E.

“Surely, especially in the current economic climate, companies need to justify and maximise every euro spent?”
A failure to unify T&E within a company’s processes, as revealed in the survey, confirms Weisselberger’s fear that many organisations do not yet realise the financial significance of T&E management.

In almost a quarter of cases, the travel policy at respondents’ organisations falls under the responsibility of the human resources department.

In only 16.5% of cases is travel a matter for the finance department.

“Companies might well need to take a more proactive stance in ensuring policy compliance during the travel booking process,” said Weisselberger.

“In a culture where expenses are rarely retrospectively questioned, policy compliance at the booking stage becomes even more important for any cost-conscious organisation.”