The benefits of blending travel and expense data!


When it comes to keeping travellers safe, have you thought about how your expenses can help?


Travel and expense data is crucial to a travel manager’s ability to keep employees safe. That’s the advice of Chris Baker, managing director, Concur UK Enterprise, who has explored how good quality, real-time data can help companies meet their duty of care to travellers. 



Robust travel policies, programmes and processes will help protect employees, but it’s not sufficient to simply check itineraries to see where people are, warns Chris. Up to half of employee travel is booked outside of corporate systems, creating gaps in travel data and leaving travel managers with a lack of control.


The first step towards correcting this is providing travellers with user-friendly tools and experiences, says Chris, adding: “Employees should be able to go in, conduct a quick search and find the flight, hotel or train they need at the preferred rates from the business’s travel management company. That way, you’re doing the hard work for them so why would they book elsewhere?”


However, even with a great booking tool, there will always be some employees that book direct. While discouraging direct bookings, Concur also looked to find a way to bring data back into the system. It found that travel itineraries were not the only useful source of data – expense data provides real-time insights that are crucial in managing duty of care.


“Corporate credit cards, for example, are often overlooked as a source of reliable information about where employees are and what they are doing,” says Chris. “If the card is charged at a coffee shop on the outskirts of a city dealing with a potential terrorism alert, you will know quickly whether they are out of harm’s way.”


Credit card data is also a useful way of making sure that the planned itinerary and actual trip matches up. Once this flows into a comprehensive tool that manages both travel and expense, it’s easy to spot discrepancies. If, say, the traveller had to move a meeting and travel to Edinburgh instead of Dublin – the card data will soon show their movements – even if their itinerary hasn’t been updated.


With all the data in the right place, the next step is how to manage travel emergencies. Unfortunately, everything from industrial action, bad weather and acts of terror can impact business travel. When a travel manager has full visibility of where their travellers are, it’s much easier to identify who is affected.


Finally, it’s essential to have a plan in place to assist travellers whenever and wherever they might need support. From rebooking a cancelled flight to emergency evacuation, travel managers need to be able to locate, actively monitor and assist every employee.


Chris advises: “Get your travel team and suppliers together to discuss various scenarios. If you’re not able to find a solution to every situation, it’s time to review your travel programme and the technology behind it.”