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Travel expense policy: a guide for small business owners

When employed by a company, employees spend money on a variety of business costs. These costs could be incurred by business travels, client meetings, as well as off-site gatherings (group lunches, team building activities, etc.).

Although most of the big corporations have already set travel expense policies in place, some companies that can gain the most from these policies seldom implement them.

In this blog, we will explain the travel expense policy, why it is important, its benefits, and things to consider and avoid while creating one.

Travel expense policy for small businesses: what it is and why it’s important

A small business’s travel expense policy is a collection of specific corporate guidelines that spell out what is anticipated of employees with regard to reservations and paying for job-related travel. Good travel expense policies establish limits on how much an employee may spend on business travel and, at the same time, outline the kind of expenses that are permissible. Additionally, the procedure for obtaining employee expenditures back should be made clear.

A travel expense policy is essential for simplifying business operations, reducing expenses, and preventing fraud in compensating work-related costs. Every business that intends to grow is strongly advised to have a comprehensive and transparently stated travel expense policy.

Businesses frequently seek assistance or delay developing and enforcing a travel expense policy for different reasons. Still, three of them are the most common: 

  1. They lack the time, position, and personnel necessary to create one. 
  2. Their policy is challenging to execute because it involves excessive manual administration.
  3. They think a travel expense policy might have a bad impact on employee contentment.

Without principles or constraints to follow, your business travelers will likely pick their flights and lodging based on their own preferences, thus wasting the company’s funds on avoidable costs. As a result, this can have a bad impact on the business in question.

Advantages of creating a travel expense policy

A travel expense policy can provide several benefits for a company, including:

1. Control of costs: A travel expense policy helps to set clear guidelines for choosing expenses that are acceptable and reimbursable, which can help to control costs and prevent overspending. This can be especially valuable for smaller businesses with fewer available resources.

2. Increased transparency: The policy makes it easier to track and monitor expenses, enhancing the transparency and accountability of the travel expense process.

3. Improved compliance: The policy helps to ensure that all employees are aware of the company's expectations and rules for travel expenses, which can reduce the risk of compliance issues and legal challenges.

4. Consistency: The policy provides a reliable framework for handling travel expenses, reducing confusion, and securing that all employees are treated fairly and equally, thus increasing employee satisfaction.

5. Better planning:  By clearly understanding which expenses are covered, employees can plan their trips better, which leads to more efficient and cost-effective travel.

Things to consider while creating a travel expense policy

A single, unified travel expense policy does not exist. You can't expect your company's policy to live up to employee standards if it doesn't reflect your company's character. Initially, your travel policy and procedures must be adaptable to fulfill the needs of your employees, industry, and market conditions while also being in line with the values and culture of your company. Additionally, they must be generally accepted for integration and understood by both employers and employees.

Your processes and principles will aid in the decision-making process for your employees within the boundaries of your company travel policy. All booking methods should be covered since employees must understand what is anticipated of them at every stage of business travel.

Your business travel policy should be specific to your company, taking into account the demands of your staff as well as your financial capabilities. It's critical to provide precise budgets as well as details on the supporting documents (such as receipts and trip tickets), deadlines, and reimbursement procedures. Additionally, you should be explicit about the scenarios and travels that may be written off as business costs. Give your employees examples they can utilize, such as business dinners to bolster customer relationships, conference travel, and off-site activities.

What does the travel expense policy for small companies look like? 

You can find a lot of free templates on the internet but here are the most important elements that a policy should contain. 

1. Overview

You specify your company's name and briefly explain the travel expense reimbursement policy. 

2. Rights and responsibilities

At this point, you must specify that the management must approve business trips. Information about an employee's rights and duties and the company's powers is provided. 

3. Personal funds

Indicate that your company will not reimburse funds spent outside of the policy out of your pocket.

4. Exceptions

If you want to add some exceptions to the rules, be sure to enter them here. 

5. Travel Expenses/Procedures

This is the most critical part of the document in which you describe how much money an employee can spend during a business trip. And, of course, what an employee can buy. 

6. Reimbursement of expenses

Here describe the rules for reimbursement of expenses for a business trip if an employee spends his money.

But with Travelspot, creating a travel expense policy is as easy as ABC. We can also incorporate your existing travel policy into the Travelspot platform so your employees have a clear understanding of the booking arrangements in the budget. 

How it works is if your arrangements are within travel policy purchases, they are done automatically, and if they are outside of travel policy, they need to be approved by the travel manager. In that way, your employees cannot click on anything and must comply with your policy. With our platform you can also create multiple travel policies for different departments in your company, so you can set different budgets for each one. Plus, you always have our travel manager at your disposal for any questions or uncertainties you may have.

Evading common travel expense policy issues

The fact that travel expense policies are excessively limiting is a recurring problem. Because of this, employees may frequently feel unable to spend corporate funds properly, which might be stressful and create an unpleasant working environment. When trying to prevent this issue, you need to have a balance between regulations that are too rigorous and those that are too lenient.

The inconsistent implementation of business expense policies is another typical issue. Employees may frequently believe that the rules are unjust and that they are not being considered equally. It's necessary to apply the policy consistently for all employees to prevent this issue.

Travelspot simplifies all booking procedures in addition to you having a clear insight into what your employees are booking at any time. With your travel policy incorporated into the Travelspot platform, you are eliminating the chance of encountering any violations of the policy itself.

The bottom line

Although the main advantage of business travel is that it provides employees with a rewarding experience, the real gains are realized by eliminating fraudulent and non-compliant claims, which results in cost savings for the company. 

Over time, an adequate travel expense policy will not simply assist your company in managing travel expenses, but it will also enable you to improve your policy consistently. Business needs vary over time, as do companies’ costs and preferences. Make sure to regularly evaluate your travel expense policy, and utilize any new data you may have on travel expenses.

What do you think? 

If you have any questions about how Travelspot saves your company time and money, feel free to contact us. 

We want to hear from you!