Automated Travel Expense Reporting: The Ultimate Guide

Business travel can contribute to a business’ top three leading expenses, and with the global corporate travel industry worth approximately $1.28 trillion, it’s not something you can ignore. Monitoring exactly where that money is being spent is vital to keeping your company’s business travel expenses in check and optimizing your spending. Automating your travel expense reporting is a simple task that could overhaul your business’ outgoings, saving you money both in the short and long term.

Businesses, both large and small, are turning to automated expense reporting. With the business travel industry set to reach $1.6 trillion by 2027, not only could it save you money, but it could also save your company man-hours dealing with tedious reports, and even improve employee happiness. In this guide, we’ll take you through expense reporting automation, the best practices to follow, how to implement automated reporting and how you can integrate them with Gett.

What’s in this guide:

  1. What is a travel expense report?
  2. What is travel expense report automation?
  3. Why do expense reports matter?
  4. Best practices for reporting on travel expenses
  5. How to implement automated travel expense reporting company-wide
  6. Who can benefit from automated travel expense reports?
  7. How to save money on travel expenses
  8. How automated expense reports work with Gett

What is a travel expense report?

A travel expense report is a document that organizes a company’s expenses, which are incurred during business trips away. Employees are required to submit receipts with their expense forms to the finance or HR department within the specified timeframe. It’s especially important to track any expenses that are tax-deductible, as this can save you a lot of money. Businesses with travel expense reports are also less likely to have trouble providing evidence of reimbursable expenses in the event that a tax return is audited.

Detail is vital when it comes to travel expense reporting, so it’s important to provide as much information about the purchase as possible, including:

  • Date of purchase – Sort expenses by month or quarter for more accuracy.
  • Name of employee who made the purchase – Track spending by department and monitor individuals’ spending.
  • Expense category – Monitor spending by account or client.
  • Supplier name – Keep track of frequent purchases from the same supplier.
  • Additional information – Detail the purpose of the expense, i.e. food, accommodation, train fares etc.  
  • Digital file of the receipt (PDF, JPG or PNG) – Track past expenses for tax purposes.
  • Purchase subtotal
  • Tax or VAT associated with the purchase
  • Total including tax

What is travel expense report automation?

Travel expense report automation is the process of recording, tracking and analysing your business’ travel expenses automatically using expense management software. It enables you to eliminate the pain of manually filing and processing travel expense reports. Expense management software saves your business both time and money, organizing all reports in an efficient manner. Booking platforms, like Gett, allow you to keep your employees’ expenses all in one place while ensuring they adhere to your business travel policy. When you manage your travel expenses with Gett, you can benefit from:

  • Automatic data imports, including travel costs, tips and taxes;
  • Documented proof of travel receipts for tax purposes;
  • Integration with expense reporting platforms for a centralized view;
  • Real-time verification of corporate travel expenses policies;
  • Data reports with insights to help track spending and control budgets.

Why do expense reports matter?

Expense reporting allows businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to global organizations, to track their outgoings, helping control company expenditure. Here are three key reasons why expense reporting should be your business’ priority:

1. Tax deductions

Business travel expenses are generally tax-deductible in most countries, providing that it’s a justifiable expense. There are many justifiable circumstances in which tax is deductible, including recruiting, procurement, sales and professional development to name but a few. However, there are some exceptions, such as entertaining clients, where a deduction may not be allowed. Every day commuting costs are not eligible for tax deductions. Travel expense reporting will allow you to categorise your travel spend, making it easier to ensure the correct tax treatment is followed.

It is essential that you can demonstrate the business purpose of the trip and provide evidence such as receipts and invoices. Find out more about the UK tax implications of reimbursing travel expenses at []

2. Fraud prevention

Business travel reimbursement is susceptible to fraudulent claims, like with any other expense claim, either intentionally or by human error. However, with the right expense policy in place, it’s easier to reduce your company’s risk of travel expense fraud. Requiring employees to supply evidence of their purchases, whether in the form of receipts or invoices, can help prevent expense fraud from happening in the first place.

Travel expense reporting enables you to track and monitor your business’ spending in more detail, i.e. by month, by department or by employee, which can alert you to areas where costs may be more considerable than others. Whether it’s a department or an employee overspending, you can investigate and crack down on it quickly.

3. Business strategy and planning

Expense reporting isn’t just for the sake of government and tax requirements, it’s also highly beneficial for your business, too. With real-time travel spend insights, you can transform your budgets and set more realistic allowances for your employees. Use monthly and quarterly reports to determine which departments or projects are overspending and remedy accordingly. It also allows you to set more realistic budgets for future business trips based upon past expenditures.

Best practices for reporting on travel expenses

Companies of all shapes and sizes are transitioning from physical paper reports to digital reporting software, for both accuracy and efficiency. There are many ways in which you can streamline your travel expense reporting, including using a centralized transport management platform, automating transport expense reports, using company credit cards and digitizing company travel policies.

Integrate your travel management and expense reporting platforms

Attain a comprehensive view of your business’ expenditure by integrating your travel management and expense reporting platforms. It will give you a long term view of your company’s expenditure on business travel, so you can monitor instances where costs are significantly higher than others. This will equip you with the knowledge to set more realistic budgets and travel allowances each quarter based upon factors such as destination, length of stay and entertaining costs, for example.

Gett is an all-in-one, easy to use solution, combining ground travel spend management with invoicing and reporting analytics. With the Gett platform, your organization can benefit from a policy builder, carbon off-setting, reporting capabilities, invoicing and VAT. You can also synchronize with SAP-like solutions.

Use corporate cards for travel expenses

Corporate cards are widely used to streamline company expenditure, especially when it comes to business travel. Using corporate credit cards not only prevents your employees from paying with their own money, but it also spares the hassle of filling out time-consuming expense reimbursement forms. Fewer reimbursements can save your business valuable man-hours for both employees and the finance department.

Although many organizations are making the switch to corporate credit cards, this does still require employees to create an expense report, which sounds counterproductive, but actually saves time in the long run. Expense management platforms facilitate expense reports with credit card transactions, saving your finance department valuable time and effort.

Gett allows you to choose your preferred payment option per ride, whether that’s a corporate card or personal card. All invoices are collated in one place for easy reporting and greater visibility over ground transportation expenditure.

Digitize your travel policies

Making your company’s travel policies accessible to your employees is vital to ensuring compliance; what are they permitted to book and what restrictions are in place to control expenditure? Digitizing your business travel policy not only ensures accessibility to all employees, but also encourages staff to keep up-to-date with changes and amendments to the policy. Hardcopy documentation can often get forgotten about and isn’t always as accessible as employees need them to be.

Digitizing your travel policies also enables you to integrate them into your travel management system to help control spend. Gett allows you to integrate your travel policy and set control features to manage ground transportation spend in a simple management interface.

Implement automated travel expense reporting software

Manually collecting receipts and entering data can lead to unnecessary man-hours spent on administration and also runs the risk of human error skewing reports. Implementing automated travel expense reporting software can prevent your organization from overspending on business travel; however, it’s important to update your employees on how to use the software to be able to get the most out of your expense reports.

According to a 2018 report, 65% of businesses are already using dedicated automated travel expense reporting software to manage employee expenses. This figure is set to rise in the coming years as organizations move away from manual spreadsheet data entry and individual reimbursements. Completing a manual travel expense report is not only time consuming, but it can also be costly to your business. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) states that it takes around 20 minutes to complete an expense report and $58 to process the report manually. However, the risk of human errors can be even more costly as 19% of reports have mistakes that take around 18 minutes to correct, which costs on average another $52.

Gett can help your business save up to 45% annually on ground travel spend thanks to the price comparison features, customizable travel policies and custom reports. Track bookings, generate reports and monitor spending via the cloud-based platform, so no matter where you are in the world, you can access all the information you need.

Automated expense reporting software can overhaul your company’s budgeting and expenditure, identifying areas in which you can save money when it comes to business travel. Implementing automated reporting software, like Gett, can help you consolidate your travel expenses with receipt scanning technology and automated reporting capabilities to make your reporting process more efficient. Amalgamate your travel expenses in one invoice to prevent you from losing track of your expenditure.

How to implement automated travel expense reporting company-wide

Implementing automated travel expense reporting across your business is vital, especially for global organizations in particular, as it can determine where vast amounts of money is being lost. It can be extremely difficult for businesses to implement automated reporting overseas, which is why it’s important to follow a structured process.

1. Evaluate your current travel expense process and how it can be improved

Before implementing an automated travel expense reporting software, it’s important to understand how your business’ existing process can be improved. An in-depth evaluation of your current travel expense reporting process can identify a number of issues that may previously have been overlooked. Talk to the relevant team members within your organization to understand which parts of the process can be improved, whether it’s time-consuming accounting and finance procedures, late reimbursements, expense fraud or lack of clarity around travel expense policies.

Misalignment between teams can also have a detrimental effect on your organization’s travel expense reporting process, therefore, it’s vital to keep your processes as streamlined as possible. Finance is typically responsible for creating data reports, while HR reimburses employees and IT maintains any software: the lack of synergy between teams can result in miscommunication and inaccurate reporting.

2. Communicate with key departments and stakeholders

Introducing automated expense reporting will have a significant impact on your accounting and finance departments, so it’s imperative to ensure they are fully prepared for the introduction of new processes. When the new reporting system is in place, you will require cooperation and resources from both of these departments to ensure the implementation process runs smoothly. The success of automating your business’ expense reporting relies upon the support of your accounting and finance department throughout the implementation process.

3. Find a solution to suit your business needs

Finding the right software solution doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Despite the availability of over 100 automation reporting software, it is more than possible for you to find the perfect solution for your business. Many automation solutions are designed to make expense reporting stress-free, producing accurate reports for your finance department to monitor travel expenditure versus return on investment (ROI).

Gett is a cloud-based platform that streamlines your travel expense reporting in a simple to use dashboard, giving you an overview of your expenditure. Request a demo with Gett to find out how you can benefit from automated reporting. 

4. Roll out your new travel expense reporting solution

Preparing your organization for the implementation of automated reporting can determine how successful your new software is. It’s important to include all the necessary people throughout the project to ensure the process runs smoothly, especially if you are rolling it out in phases. Support your team by running face-to-face or online training sessions to help your organization adapt to the changes more easily. Creating how-to guides that are easily accessible can help employees adopt the process, allowing them to refer to the document whenever they need to.

5. Review and reflect on your chosen solution

Although this is not essential, reviewing your chosen automation software can help your business benefit from everything that the tool has to offer, as well as ensuring that your travel policy is fit for purpose. Once your solution has been in place for some time (e.g., at least 6 months), you can then evaluate how well automated travel expense reporting works for your business. It may be the case that you need to re-evaluate your business’ travel policies in order to make full use of the tool’s reporting capabilities.

Who can benefit from automated travel expense reports?

There are a number of key teams who can benefit from automated travel expense reporting, including;

  • CEOs – can gain a better understanding of the business’ travel expenditure, enabling them to make informed decisions in order to maximize profits.
  • Employees – can spend more time being productive in their day-to-day roles by condensing ground travel expense reporting into a cloud-based platform. Employees can benefit from a sleeker, more consistent process and quicker reimbursement times.
  • Financial teams – simplifying expense reporting can provide greater transparency over company travel expenditure, ensuring all reimbursements are completed accurately and on time to prevent fraud.
  • IT managers – user-friendly automated expense reporting platforms can reduce the strain on IT resources, so less technical support is required in the finance department, leading to greater employee satisfaction company-wide.

How to save money on travel expenses

Streamlining your company’s travel expenses is only one part of the process, saving money on travel costs is a whole other matter. Once you have identified the areas of business travel that are costing your business the most, there are a number of ways in which you can save money.

Track trip cancellations

Unified travel expense reports can enable you to identify where and when bookings are being cancelled. Cancelled business trips are very common and the cost of unrecovered cancellation fees can easily add up, more so for larger organizations. Gett operates a ‘you don’t ride, you don’t pay’ policy, so if your employees cancel a booking for whatever reason, your company won’t be charged.

Set up unique travel policies for different departments

Implementing unique policies for various business functions, departments and locations can help prevent overspending on travel expenses by outlining specific requirements for individual scenarios. With Gett, your organization can benefit from tailored travel policies, which are designed to help you manage budgets while also upholding your duty of care, helping to ensure compliance and reduce expenditure. Choose from Gett’s existing travel policy templates or create your own and apply multiple policies at once.

Keep track of travel spend per department, project or person

Track how much money each department spends on business travel by creating categories or tags in your expense reports. With this data, you can forecast future travel and set appropriate budgets for each department. View and download all your billing documents using Gett, including invoices, receipts and credit notes and attribute them to each department if necessary.

How automated expense reports work with Gett

Gett consolidates all your expenses into one easy to use platform, so your business can monitor and control your expenditure, saving you up to 45% on your global ground transportation spend. With Gett’s automated expense reporting, all your expenses are collated in a few simple steps:

  1. Employees book their ground transportation via the Gett app;
  2. The rider submits an expense via the app by taking a photo of the receipt and uploading it to the Gett app;
  3. Gett automatically extracts the necessary information from the receipt;
  4. All the data is imported into a travel expense report.

Automated expense reporting can significantly improve your business’ outgoings, eliminating fraudulent expense claims while streamlining the overall process, saving valuable man-hours. It not only improves visibility over your organization’s expenditure, but also consolidates important financial data for easy reporting.

Benefit from a bird’s eye view of your business’ travel expenditure so you can control your budgets and outgoings. Find out how you can integrate your travel expense reports with Gett and request your demo today.