Keeping Travelers Happy: The Importance of Rapid Reimbursement

It takes a different breed to be a business traveler. Acting as the face of your company, your corps of business travelers spend weeks away from their families, friends and creature comforts. It pays to keep your team happy, minimizing the stress that comes with each economy class long-haul flight, delay or last minute move.

Front view of a traveler woman walking and using a smart phone in an airport corridorSo, why does it take so long to get these travelers reimbursed for their flight, hotel or meal?

A Full Business Week: The Difference between Leaders and Laggards

According to APQC, a leading business benchmarking nonprofit, the top 25% of firms can turn around an expense reimbursement in four days or less, with the bottom 25% taking nine days or more to approve and schedule T&E reimbursements.

This means that there are numerous people right now, sitting in a hotel room or on a flight, waiting patiently for finance to recognize, approve and reimburse their out of pocket purchases.

It gets worse when you look at how much it costs the organization. The bottom performers of the 1,069 companies studied pay four times as much (0.04% of revenue vs. 0.01%) just to process reimbursements.

Simply stated, slow reimbursements cost everyone from sales (unhappy travelers) to finance (higher processing costs) to human resources (employee turnover and hiring).

Getting Up to Speed: How to Shorten Time to Reimbursement

So, what can you do to speed up the reimbursement process, improving the morale of business travelers and the overall outlook of your company? The key is to clarify, simplify, and automate:

Clarify

The ability for an organization to set and adhere to a travel and expense management policy requires well-defined boundaries and timeframes, straightforward communications and an easy-to-follow reporting procedure.

Whether it’s a formal pre-approval system or set of guidelines for travelers, ensuring travelers and the finance team are on the same page is the first step in improving the overall travel and expense experience.

Read More: Four Must-Haves for a Winning Expense Report Policy

Simplify

What’s the quickest way to irk a traveler? Force him or her to come into the office every Friday for administrative work, filling out paper-based expense reports with receipts collected throughout the week.

The ability to let a business traveler do what he or she does best brings your company more sales and in turn more revenue, all while reducing the amount of paper used and time spent reading and keying in data.

The simplest way to do this is to completely remove the paper-based processes. The employee can snap a receipt on a cell phone, having the information auto-populate a digital expense report.

The finance department doesn’t have to read the handwriting, and approvals can be completed more quickly, reducing the overall time to reimbursement.

Read More: Three Reasons to Go Mobile with Your Expense Reporting

Automate

Just as the simplicity of mobile reporting makes life easier for finance and travel, the ability to automate the process can further reduce the time for approvals. A fully automated process can bring together the compliance of your policy with the simplification brought by a mobile app, leading your organization to enhanced visibility and savings.

Read More: Three Reasons You Need to Automate Your Expense Reporting Process

Bringing it all Together

Reimbursing business travelers quickly not only keeps them happy and performing well, but it also saves you money. Learn more about how to speed up the approval and reimbursement process with intuitive expense reporting software that can help you clarify, simplify, automate and save money using the resources below: