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Up, Up, and Away: A Look at Travel Costs

October 27, 2023

Travel sticker-shock is real. If you’ve recently examined a budget, you can likely testify. Our collective appetite for post-pandemic travel has yet to be satisfied, even with high prices. International travel is 94% of pre-pandemic levels, and U.S. hotel rates are 17% higher than in 2019 due to low supply and high demand. Apparently, our expectations have also risen. Airlines are adding “I’ll-take-that-with-a-side-of-champagne” seats, with premium services expected to account for 35% of 2024 revenue for one carrier.

Down-to-earth measures

To protect bottom lines, CFOs should consider teaming up with HR to revisit the company travel policy with justifications for in-person events (e.g., Disney), processes for approval, preferred vendors, classes of service, spending limits, employee safety, and zip code-specific per diems. You’ll be in good company: 32% of workers report such policies have already shifted.

Capture, monitor, and leverage all your travel-related data with vendors and suppliers; such data visibility could put you in a better position to routinely negotiate favorable rates and discounts. Monitor credit card programs closely, too. Many cards offer attractive rewards, and their tracking-and-reporting tools could integrate into your internal expense management system.

Beyond cutting costs, seek efficiency. If you’re among the 71% of CFOs who groan that travel management is too time consuming, consider upgrading any system that may be adding to hidden-cost overhead. One study shows an employee spends 20 minutes per expense report, 19% of which have errors that require an additional 18 minutes to correct. Trust us: integration and automation will mean happier employees.

From power suits to passports, and motels to mileage, make sure your travel counts.

“Of all the books in the world. The best stories are found between the pages of a passport.”
– Anonymous

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