Enough is enough: How to keep our politicians’ travel spend under control...

Enough is enough: How to keep our politicians’ travel spend under control like businesses do

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During the last few weeks we’ve seen the government go through what is most likely the worst politician travel scandal in the history of Australia.

From former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bronwyn Bishop’s helicopter ride to Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey’s family trip on business class, and the recently revealed luxury rail trips done by Western Australia politicians.

The list seems almost endless now.

So here is a list of five tools that would prevent future scandals and could have easily avoided the government’s travel expenses to get out of control.

These are solutions that many organisations across the country and worldwide are already using to make sure they have complete control and visibility of their travel and spending.

1. Locomote

Locomote is a travel and expense technology solution that gives companies the transparency and control they need to manage their business travel.

Through its user-friendly interface, organisations set policies and access to all the information they need — including bookings, duty of care and current situation of the places intended to visit, budget, travel requests, expenses and more — on any device, anywhere in the world.

The whole Locomote system relies on business travel most important premise: travel management must be proactive rather than reactive. With Locomote, every spend is made only once it’s been approved, saving organisations from any potential travel scandal like Bishop’s.

At the same time, this platform makes the requesting and authorising processes easy and efficient. Locomote’s technology is smart enough to allow company travellers to bypass approvals (if the booking request is within the guidelines set by the business).

This platform also generates reports and transfers expenses automatically to the company’s accounting system once they’ve been approved. Features like these take the pain point out of business travel and enhance productivity.

2. Expensify

This expense reporting software gives companies a holistic view of their business travel spending and the true cost of each trip. Expensify creates a report based on itinerary dates and incurred expenses for every business trip.

Its SmartScan technology capturex payments data directly from receipts through photos and automatically imports all approved transactions into the company’s accounting package.

Expensify enables companies to set specific rules regarding expenses and its strict policy enforcement ensures compliance with every organisation’s rules.

This solution auto-categorises expenses based on a company’s accounting policies and imports all card (personal, corporate and commercial cards) transactions and cash expenses. Expensify makes it easy to approve reports online and reimburse directly to the selected account.

3. Digital wallets

Digital wallets can store multiple payment cards with different card schemes and they can also keep

loyalty programs information. In that sense, businesses can share with their employees the company’s credit and loyalty cards, but also train and event tickets.

This is an easy way to share information that travellers might need during a business trip and it gives organisations transparency and control of every payment made by employees.

This is a great method for businesses that give employees a travel allowance so they can manage this money to cover meals, drinks, transport and other things they might need.

Digital wallets enable businesses to provide secure payment options to corporate travellers, which are really useful when travelling.

For instance, a digital wallet allows the user to make electronic payments with the company’s credit card — once this has been authorised and a limit has been set — or with digital cash, and hides the credit card information by encrypting it so the payment process is secure.

Some digital wallet providers are PayPal and MasterPass by MasterCard, which is supported by Commonwealth Bank, Bankwest, NAB, Westpac, and Bendigo.

4. Company credit card with specific limit

A good way to keep travel expenses under control that is beneficial for both travel managers and employees is using corporate cards with easy-to-change limit settings.

Instead of reimbursing travellers with their spending, it’s easier to share with them a company’s card with the exact amount of money according to the organisation’s policies.

It’s always useful to have an estimate cost of how much money an employee would need per day in local and international destinations and adjust the limit of the credit card accordingly.

5. Rewards program

Companies can implement an internal culture where those employees who save on travel expenses get rewarded. For example, instead of staying in a five-star hotel, they can choose a four-star one or an Airbnb accommodation.

Then the employees who make this kind of spend-wise decisions can be rewarded with gift cards or something the organisation considers appropriate.

Employees can also book in advance to get cheaper deals and do it online — it’s widely cited that online bookings offer better deals than travel agencies.

Philip Weinman is the CEO & Executive Chairman of travel and expense company Locomote.

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