Small business owners typically have limited resources such as time and money.
That’s why it’s so important for small businesses to streamline as much of the business travel process as possible.
Streamlining the travel process with travel management software for small business will lead to a more efficiently run business, happier employees, and a healthier bottom line.
How can a small business incorporate and manage business travel effectively?
The management process involves establishing a clear travel policy, implementing an efficient expense tracking system, ensuring duty of care, constantly re-evaluating the travel policy, and incorporating travel management software.
To develop the best solution for an efficient and stress-free travel program, consider the following steps.
1. Evaluate the company’s travel needs and set a realistic travel budget
First and foremost, small business owners need to evaluate the company’s travel needs in order to establish a realistic travel budget.
This involves analyzing past travel by identifying the different types of expenses incurred and the frequency of business trips.
This will give business owners a good starting point and foundation on what to include in the budget when it comes to the different types of expenses and the amount to allot for the different categories.
Establishing a travel budget helps business owners track and monitor expenses so that costs can be kept reasonable and under control.
2. Establish a well-defined travel policy
One of the key aspects of managing corporate travel is establishing a well-defined travel policy.
This policy should outline guidelines for booking flights, accommodations, car rentals, and ground transportation, as well as set limits on the different types of expenses and define the approval process.
Making this information readily available and accessible ensures that employees can make informed decisions when planning their trips.
By implementing a clear travel policy, small businesses can prevent overspending and maintain consistency across the organization.
3. Track expenses efficiently
Another vital component of managing business travel is the implementation of an efficient expense tracking and reporting process.
The ideal travel management solution will make it easy for employees to track and report expenses and for managers to review and approve them.
Establishing an efficient method for tracking expenses will help keep a close eye on corporate travel spending and simplify the reimbursement process.
4. Ensure duty of care
Duty of care is also a crucial consideration in managing corporate travel.
Businesses must ensure employee safety and security throughout their trips, by staying informed about potential risks, providing adequate insurance coverage, and establishing procedures for handling emergencies.
5. Continuously analyze and optimize the travel program
To ensure that a small business travel program remains efficient and adapts to the needs of the company, business owners should regularly review and update the company’s travel policy and budget.
By analyzing employee feedback and travel data, areas for improvement can be determined and the necessary adjustments made.
This involves reviewing travel data and identifying trends, such as the most frequent destinations or preferred airlines, to negotiate better deals with suppliers.
Analyzing travel data enables companies to make data-driven decisions and optimize costs in their travel programs.
6. Incorporate travel management software
Streamlining all of these processes is where travel software enters the picture.
The very best travel management software platform enables businesses to book travel, manage itineraries, and track expenses, all in one centralized location, while staying compliant with the company’s travel policies.
Automate corporate travel policies
An essential feature of software for corporate travel management is its ability to automate the enforcement of corporate travel policies.
This ensures employee compliance with the company’s established guidelines, eliminating discrepancies and minimizing financial risks.
Consolidate travel expenses
Another major advantage of using travel management software is the consolidation of travel-related expenses and invoices.
This allows small businesses to monitor costs, identify spending patterns, and optimize its travel budgets.
Streamline the travel process
Leveraging travel software tailored for small business owners can significantly streamline all of these processes and promote a seamless business travel experience for both employees and managers.
Travel software serves as a critical solution for small businesses to effectively plan, manage, and track their corporate travel activities while saving time, reducing costs, and ensuring compliance with corporate travel policies.
What are the key features of travel management software for small business owners?
There are some key features that should be included in travel management software to make the process as efficient as possible.
These features may be found in one centralized platform or by integrating multiple platforms.
1. Booking and itinerary management
Management software for travel should include booking and itinerary features.
These features allow users to book flights, hotels, and ground transportation in one centralized platform.
It consolidates all travel plans, making it easier to manage and monitor itineraries.
2. Expense tracking and reporting
Travel management software should also enable employees to easily track and report expenses incurred during their business trips.
Even for small businesses, keeping track of business expenses can be a daunting task.
Tracking expenses for travel involves keeping up with all receipts and recording all company-related expenditures during the trip.
A good expense management solution should provide an easy-to-use interface for employees to input or scan expenses, as well as a dashboard for employers to monitor and analyze costs incurred.
By integrating expense tracking with travel management software, business owners gain real-time insights into company spending patterns.
Expense reporting is another crucial aspect of travel management for small business owners.
Employers must have a clear and straightforward system in place for their employees to submit expenses incurred during business trips.
This may involve creating custom forms, templates, or utilizing digital tools to allow employees to input their expenses with ease.
Expense management software often includes features for more automated expense tracking and reporting, making the process quicker and more efficient for both employees and employers.
3. Policy compliance
A well-designed travel management system and software ensures that employees adhere to corporate travel policies.
Effective policy controls are an essential component of travel software.
Built-in policy controls within the software allow small businesses to customize and automate their processes according to their specific needs and requirements.
These controls can include setting spending limits on travel expenses, choosing preferred travel suppliers, and requiring pre-trip approval for certain types of bookings.
By implementing these policy controls, small businesses can better manage their travel costs and minimize the risk of unauthorized travel bookings or overspending.
Additionally, these controls help to simplify the compliance process by automatically enforcing corporate travel policies in real-time.
This enables businesses to quickly identify any discrepancies and address them before they become a larger issue.
Utilizing software with built-in policy controls can significantly streamline this process, allowing businesses to focus on growth and success.
4. Analytics and insights
Advanced travel management software provides valuable insights with the use of artificial intelligence and analytics to help businesses identify and address trends, optimize their travel program, and make data-driven decisions.
Top travel management systems offer robust reporting and analytics capabilities, making it easier for small and large businesses everywhere to optimize their corporate travel strategy.
Travel software for small businesses should provide comprehensive reporting dashboards that offer an easy-to-understand overview of travel and expenses.
Dashboards usually display essential information and KPIs (key performance indicators), including the number of trips booked, the average cost per trip, and any policy violations.
Furthermore, these interactive dashboards enable users to monitor spending habits and make informed decisions about their travel budgets.
Travel analytics is a crucial aspect of travel management software.
The system should offer diverse analytical capabilities to help businesses gain insights into their travel spending patterns and identify potential areas for cost reduction.
Advanced software often includes customizable and industry-specific reports, such as top destinations, preferred airline carriers, and total travel expenses categorized by department or employee.
Efficient analytics and reporting tools are vital for small businesses to manage their travel and expenses effectively.
With these features, travel software can help organizations optimize spending and streamline their travel operations, ultimately leading to a more strategic approach to managing business travel.
Another key feature to consider when choosing travel management software for small business is its integration capabilities.
Travel software often comes with a range of third-party integrations that can enhance its functionality and help businesses achieve a more efficient travel management process.
These integrations usually work with existing tools and software that the company may already be using, such as expense management platforms, payroll systems, and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.
Some other travel management platforms and solutions even offer advanced integrations with popular platforms like Uber, airline ticketing systems, and hotel booking sites.
These integrations enable businesses to streamline their travel management workflow by connecting multiple services through a single platform.
Another notable benefit of third-party integrations is their ability to provide real-time tracking for every transaction.
To make the most of these integrations, businesses should consider the following factors:
- Compatibility: Ensure that the chosen travel management software can integrate with the tools and platforms your business is already using or planning to use.
- Scalability: As your business grows, your needs may change. Look for a travel management platform with a range of integration options that can adapt to your evolving requirements.
- Ease of setup: Select a solution that offers seamless integration with minimal effort from your team. This will make it more likely that employees will adopt and use the software successfully.
Integrations play an essential role in streamlining the travel booking and management process by saving time and ensuring a seamless experience for both employees and the management team.
What are the top travel management software for small business in 2023?
Here are the travel management software options that we have found to be the best in 2023.
1. TravelPerk – Best for booking accommodations and travel services
TravelPerk is an end-to-end travel management platform that combines a comprehensive digital platform with the world’s largest travel inventory of accommodation and travel services.
We picked TravelPerk as the best travel management software for booking and travel services since they have the largest inventory of accommodation and travel services on the market.
Best corporate rates
Due to its large inventory, TravelPerk is able to offer some of the best corporate rates.
Another key feature is that travel managers can customize the software by incorporating their own travel policies, so that business travelers are making travel arrangements within a controlled environment.
Simple trip cancellation policy
TravelPerk also offers a simple trip cancellation policy, since small businesses often need flexible corporate travel booking solutions.
The platform is designed with a built-in risk management feature that offers real-time updates on regulations, health, and safety alerts.
With its simple and straightforward user-face, travel managers and business travelers can see everything at a glance.
After booking transportation and hotel accommodations, everything can be viewed from booking details to available perks.
Users can even manage group bookings for conferences or team retreats.
Other features include the collection of invoices, VAT recovery, and 24/7 customer support.
One potential drawback is its search feature.
The search feature, at times, can be a little confusing and slow in loading results.
TravelPerk is designed specifically for small businesses focusing on booking trips, trip approvals, expense reporting, and compliance.
- User-friendly for travel managers.
- Largest travel inventory of accommodation and transport services on the market.
- Offers best corporate rates.
- Flexible travel solution with a simple trip cancellation policy.
- Built-in risk management feature for real-time updates on regulations, health, and safety.
- VAT recovery.
- 24/7 customer support from humans, not bots.
- Search feature can be a little confusing.
- Slow in loading search results.
- Starter: Free for first 5 bookings per month, then 5% per booking
- Premium: $99/month + 3% booking
- Pro: $299/month + 3% booking
- Enterprise: Custom
2. Shoeboxed– Best for expense tracking
Shoeboxed is a travel management software solution that specializes in expense tracking and receipt management.
For small businesses, keeping track of business expenses for various employees while traveling can be a daunting task.
A good expense management solution should provide an easy-to-use interface for employees to input expenses, as well as a dashboard for employers to monitor and analyze costs incurred.
Shoeboxed does all of this and more.
Its platform is easy to use since receipts are easily turned into human-verified extracted digital data just by snapping pictures of receipts directly from Shoeboxed’s mobile app.
Or, if you don’t want to snap photos of your receipts, a pre-paid envelope is provided called a Magic Envelope.
This Magic Envelope is unique to Shoeboxed.
It can be stuffed full of receipts, documents, or business cards and dropped in the mail for Shoeboxed to extract and transform the information into digital data.
When the receipts are uploaded, Shoeboxed not only human-verifies the data, but also categorizes the data into 15 categories for expense reports and tax deductions.
Expense reports can also be easily created.
Comprehensive expense reports can be created from your mobile device or the web, which also includes images of all expenses.
From there, data can be exported, printed, or shared for reimbursements or tax deductions.
With Shoeboxed, users can quickly search and retrieve key information.
Shoeboxed’s search capabilities allow users to find specific documents quickly through filters or keyword searches.
Filters are set so that searches can be performed based on category, vendor, price, or time period.
Shoeboxed’s receipt app has special OCR or optical character recognition technology that transforms printed text, even handwritten, into data that is searchable.
OCR can also improve the accuracy of searches by recognizing the text found within documents that have been scanned.
The software quickly scans, organizes, and archives these documents for efficient record-keeping, search, and easy retrieval.
Another useful feature for small businesses is Shoeboxed’s mileage tracker.
If you are traveling for business and using your own vehicle, Shoeboxed has a built-in GPS for easy, accurate mileage tracking.
Just go to the mobile app, select the ‘Mileage’ tab in the bottom of the navigation bar, and select ‘Start Mileage Tracking’ to begin tracking business miles.
Moreover, integrating expense tracking with travel management software can help streamline the entire process and provide real-time, actionable insights into spending patterns.
Shoeboxed integrates with popular software such as QuickBooks to streamline small business financial information.
Once the receipts are scanned and uploaded, they will then sync with QuickBooks where they will show up as categorized expenses.
Taxes and audits
Instead of having to flip through receipts manually, OCR scanning means receipts can be searched digitally.
If mileage or a transaction is in question, the filtered search feature can be utilized to pull the data up quickly on your Shoeboxed account.
Shoeboxed’s digital images are accepted by the Canada Revenue Service and the IRS.
No more having to keep up with receipts and no more torn, missing, or stained receipts.
- Efficient expense management for small business travel.
- Built-in GPS for tracking business miles.
- Mobile app for business expenses and scans receipts directly from phone.
- Integration with QuickBooks to streamline your financial information.
- Not only scans receipts, but also business cards and other documents.
- Expenses are separated into tax categories.
- Mobile app plans are only digital.
- Plans that include the Magic Envelope have to be accessed from Shoeboxed’s website.
- Digital Starter Plan is $4.99/month and goes up to $19.99/month for the Pro digital plan.
- Plans with the Magic Envelope range anywhere from $18/month to up to $54/month. Magic Envelope plans are only available on desktop.
- Free 30-day trial period.
3. Fyle – Best for policy compliance
Fyle is an expense management platform that emphasizes data security and compliance, making it an attractive option for small businesses.
With Fyle, business rules or policies can be created based on employee groups or expense parameters such as department, level, categories, projects, or amount.
This ensures that every expense is compliant from the very beginning and in real-time.
This travel management solution checks for anomalies such as fraud detection.
The platform automatically checks for overstated, fictitious, and duplicate expenses in an effort to minimize expense fraud.
It also checks for dubious merchants, transactions on weekends or holidays, and any other unusual expense.
It also supports the best practices for handling receipts.
Receipt compliance is supported by extensive searchability features, unlimited cloud storage, and automatic receipt attachment.
Digital audit trail
Another great feature is that it leaves a digital audit trail.
Any data or actions related to payments, approvals, expenses, or receipts can easily be tracked and stored in an accountant and audit-ready format.
Mileage and per diem rates
Mileage and per diem rates can be automatically set up.
Per diem rates for employees or custom mileage rates for different types of vehicles can be configured based on government guidelines to ensure maximum compliance.
Other features include automated credit card reconciliation, approval workflows, budget controls, streamlined employee reimbursements, analytics, and integrations with popular accounting tools such as Sage, Oracle NetSuite, Xero, and QuickBooks.
While Fyle’s focus on expense management, data security, and compliance may be attractive to small businesses, it may not provide as comprehensive of a travel booking and expense solution as some of the other alternatives.
- Top-notch data security and compliance for small businesses.
- Fraud detection.
- Exchange rates can be manually set for converting foreign currency to home currency.
- Multiple approval workflows.
- No built-in mileage tracker like Shoeboxed offers.
- Not as comprehensive as some of its competitors.
- Standard: $6.99 per active user/month, billed annually, and minimum billing of 5 users
- Business: $11.99 per active user/month, billed annually, and minimum billing of 10 users
- Enterprise: Custom pricing
4. SAP Concur – Best for integrations
SAP Concur is a well-established travel and expense management solution offering extensive third-party integrations.
SAP Concur is a flexible platform that connects to your existing CRM, payroll, finance, and HR solutions.
It offers pre-built apps and custom integrations.
Apps for corporate travelers such as American Airlines, Tripit, Hertz, Uber, and more can be linked to a SAP Concur account.
Not only do they offer hundreds of integrations that can connect to your existing solutions, their open APIs allow developers the ability to create custom integrations for specific business needs.
Other features include expense and travel management.
This platform stands out with its robust suite of features, extensive third-party integrations, and compliance capabilities.
However, it may be more complex than its competitors.
- Offers extensive third-party integrations.
- Robust suite of features.
- Offers pre-built apps and custom integrations.
- Comprehensive and flexible platform.
- It is a little more complex than its competitors.
- For small businesses, it can get expensive.
- Pricing is not transparent.
Pricing: Not available on website
5. Certify – Best for analytics and insights
Certify is a highly rated travel and expense management software that provides some of the best features for offering insights and analyzing the performance of small businesses.
Certify offers a strong suite of reporting and analytical features that will keep your small business one step ahead of your competitors.
It helps small businesses make more informed decisions regarding forecasting and budgeting, which directly improves the bottom line.
Certify features a custom report builder so that any data is easily accessible and visible.
In addition to its custom report builder, it offers more than 40 standard reports.
Its travel and expense analytics include expense by category, per diem by employee, and top hotel vendors.
For financial oversight and auditing, there are expense policy reviews, automated expense reports, expense report accruals, and expense report statistics.
Reports for integrations and data fields include p-card reconciliation reports, accounts payable reports, and client billable reports.
Certify offers a customizable experience, with options to tailor the software to a small business’s specific needs.
With a wide range of features such as travel booking, expense management, and invoice processing, Certify offers a comprehensive and scalable solution suitable for businesses of all sizes.
The one drawback is that their pricing is not transparent on their website for two of its three plans, but can be obtained by contacting the company.
- Has the ability to track the approval process.
- Above average reporting and analytical capabilities.
- User-friendly, intuitive, and easy to use.
- Very cost-efficient platform.
- Integrates with QuickBooks like Shoeboxed.
- Difficult to correct mistakes.
- Pricing is not very transparent.
- Certify Now!: $12 user/month
- Professional: Monthly service fee
- Enterprise: Annual fixed pricing
Frequently asked questions
Travel software for small businesses should offer features such as centralized online booking, expense tracking, and reporting capabilities. It should also have a user-friendly interface and mobile access for on-the-go use. Integration with existing systems, like accounting software and HR systems, can also be beneficial for a seamless experience.
Software for travel management, such as Shoeboxed, can help small businesses improve expense tracking by automating the process of travel expenses. This can help organizations better manage budgets and reimburse employees more efficiently. By streamlining approvals and reducing the chances of errors, this software can save time and resources for small businesses.
There are several affordable travel expense management solutions already available for small businesses. Among them, Shoeboxed is a good option that offers an optimized and user-friendly platform for expense management. TravelPerk also provides a centralized solution that caters specifically to small business travel management needs.
Investing in the right software can considerably improve travel experiences, automate company travel policies to ensure compliance, and enhance expense management.
With ever-changing business trends and competitors, it’s essential for small businesses to monitor spending and make data-driven decisions.
Utilizing travel management software helps businesses simplify the travel process, analyze travel expenses, and identify areas for cost-cutting and optimization.