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The future of business travel in Asia Pacific

Nick Evered, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Concur Asia Pacific | May 29, 2015
The future of business travel will see web and mobile solutions helping employees be productive anywhere, at any time.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Business travel across Asia Pacific is continuing to grow at a breath-taking rate as executives take to the roads and skies to secure relationships and deals. However, while the majority of businesses in Asia Pacific are expecting to increase their spending on business travel over the next year, travel expenses are coming under increased scrutiny as the second largest controllable cost at many firms, after payroll. 

Alarmingly, Forrester has found the vast majority of businesses are making decisions about their travel and expense budgets and overall spend without a complete view of their data. In fact, 80 percent of firms rely on travel and expense (T&E) data entered manually, after the event, by employees. This is not only time-consuming and error-prone; it means that the businesses have no real-time insight into the data to optimise spend.

Aside from visibility to their T&E spending, driving higher policy compliance is a key requirement for many companies and non-compliance isn't just a travel issue, it's a corporate issue. IDC found 40-50% of hotel bookings and 28% of air bookings are considered invisible spend, or "leak", out of travel management companies and are booked directly with a given supplier.

As business travel across Asia Pacific continues to rise, businesses need to rethink the way they manage their travel operations. Managers need to adopt a more proactive approach towards managing their own T&E and also those of employees, ensuring that these expenses not only stay within budget and the company's travel policy, but also providing flexibility to pursue better options when available.

Driving Value from Travel Data

Although businesses are focused on how they manage their travel spend, the reality is no one, single managed travel program captures 100% of the bookings that employees make, because people book wherever they want - on a mobile device, a supplier website, or even directly with a bed and breakfast - mostly because they can get better value, more conveniently.

Recognising this gap, integrated T&E management systems have emerged to enable businesses to capture and process all of that information in a single platform. Integrated T&E management systems help to ensure corporate discounts are realised on any relevant bookings; that data from travel suppliers, regardless of where the booking is made, is accurately captured at the time of booking; and that the bookings go through all of the travel manager policy settings and notifications. In addition, the receipts from these transactions are automatically added to the travellers' expense reports.

Given that businesses require solutions that provide maximum convenience and efficiency on-the-go, such T&E systems have to be designed and built such that all the approvals, reporting and analytics are "mobile first". In that way, when managers are sitting in a taxi or waiting in an airport lounge they are able to approve staff travel, review T&E budgets, track expenditure and trends, or see where their team members are currently physically located.

 

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