Research from KDS reveals up to one quarter of business travelers embellish their company expenses

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LONDON and PHILADELPHIA – KDS, a global provider of corporate Travel and Expense (T&E) management software solutions, released its findings from a recent study. Devised to investigate the attitudes, actions and behaviors of UK and U.S. business professionals when booking and managing their work-related travel and reporting travel expenses, the survey questioned over 1,000 participants and revealed that almost one quarter (22%) embellish their business travel expenses by regularly rounding up business mileage claims by 1 and 10 miles per journey. Although these may seem like minor inflations, costs can quickly add up across larger organizations with an extensive mobile workforce.

Additional key insights gleaned from the research include:
Expense claiming cuts into work time, remains a largely manual process and encourages staff “creativity.”

  • 41% of respondents still use time-intensive spreadsheets for tracking and submitting their expenses, with 47% of those respondents confirming it takes between 30 minutes and one hour to submit an expense claim, and 18% taking one to two hours.
  • 80% of employees complete their expense submissions during working hours.
  • 73% of respondents say they aim to keep receipts in one place – like a wallet or an envelope – but are faced with organizing and collating these when completing their monthly expense claim, opening the way to inaccuracies and ‘lost’ receipts when business travelers submit their claims.

Travel processes impede staff productivity, inhibit compliance and impact a company’s bottom line

  • 44% of those surveyed spend up to 60 minutes or more at their desk researching/booking a business trip.
  • The implications for UK and U.S. businesses in terms of productivity wastage are high. Over 56% of U.S. survey respondents recorded salaries of between $50K and $99K, while 37% of UK respondents fell into the £55K-£99K income bracket.
  • While one-third of respondents used a corporate booking tool, 37% said they preferred booking their flight, hotel, rail travel or car hire direct with a travel supplier.
  • A further 28% went on to say they will use a combination of both approaches to get the travel plans that work best for them.

When asked to explain their preference for direct booking, 49% of respondents said it was more convenient to do so, while 32% confirmed it gave them access to a wider choice of travel options. This was despite the fact that 28% of respondents acknowledged that using a corporate booking tool would deliver bullet-proof compliance with their company’s travel policy.

“Our research findings demonstrate how outdated processes and clunky T&E systems limit traveler choice or sacrifice usability, which forces people to book direct and continues to negatively impact UK and U.S. firms,” said Dean Forbes, CEO, KDS.

From a cost and productivity standpoint, this should alert companies to the importance of having the right procedures and solutions in place to ensure staff can operate at maximum efficiency.”

With the Aberdeen Group estimating that a typical company spends more than 10% of its annual budget on expenses related to business travel[1], T&E management is increasingly coming under scrutiny as organizations look to implement best-in-class processes that reduce the time involved in booking travel and filing expense claims and increase employee satisfaction.

“The survey results show how ineffective and outdated systems put companies at risk of significant unnecessary wastage – with travel expenses in particular being open to neglect at best, and abuse or fraud at worst,” continues Forbes.

U.S. and UK respondents are very similar in their attitudes and behaviors regarding travel and expense processes.

  • When it comes to embellishing expenses, both markets are similar in their actions, with almost 21% of U.S. respondents and 20% of UK respondents sometimes adding a bit to blank taxi receipts, with 3% of those from the U.S. and 5% of those from the UK often adding a little bit.
  • Similarly, over 20% of those from the U.S. and 25% from the UK round up their mileage between 1 to 10 miles when claiming mileage.
  • When it comes to keeping track of receipts, 13% of respondents from the U.S. and 18% from the UK note that they struggle and end up with receipts everywhere (wallet, pockets, bags), probably losing some.
  • Close to 42% of U.S. respondents and almost 41% of UK respondents are still using a spreadsheet to submit expense claims.
  • An interesting difference to note: when it comes to how likely respondents are to use an airline App to get flight and gate information during a typical trip, close to 32% of U.S. respondents are very likely, while only just over 10% of UK respondents are very likely to do so.

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