If you are a small business then there’s a good chance that you or your team spend time on the road. Business travel is a near essential part of growing a business. The problem for most businesses is that the internal processes that exist to support booking and managing travel are at best poor, and at worst non-existent.
Based on our research here at Serko, the average business trip takes approximately 6 hours to book and manage. When you think about the time spent searching for fares, the time spent getting approval and the general mucking around that goes on it’s perfectly plausible. And when you consider that somewhere between 25% and 40% of business trips change at least once before the traveller departs, you can quickly see how painful and expensive business travel can be.
Up to this point, small businesses have had little choice but to simply absorb or internalise the cost of travel management, whilst their larger competitors have been given the tools (by their travel agency partners), to allow them to automate and streamline their whole travel management process. This has given them what amounts to a competitive advantage over smaller businesses that need to travel to compete. Compounding the process issue further, is the fact that large businesses are able to leverage their scale, to negotiate better deals out of airlines and hotel chains etc. giving them an even greater advantage.
There’s an additional Health and Safety dimension to business travel now, as recent legislation changes in Australia mean that company officers have a legal responsibility to ensure that their employees are safe when they are on the road. This is a big change and moves the onus firmly onto the business to provide a clear support process for people, whether they are in the office or on the road. The first step in achieving compliance is simply to know where everyone is and control what they can book. This is nearly impossible if everyone books their own travel directly on supplier sites and necessitates a fundamentally different approach to travel management.
The other challenge with travel is washing up after a trip has been completed. If each trip has two taxis, two flights and one hotel, then every trip has at least five invoices associated with it that need to be reconciled back to a credit card at some point. If a typical small business does 30 trips a year, then that’s 150 invoices that all need to be reconciled. This is time consuming and error prone… but doesn’t need to be.
Back in February Xero partnered with us, as the leader in corporate travel and expense management, to bring a new travel management service to market and solve the problems outlined here. This new serko.travel/Xero integration launches next month.