Corporate Travel and Expense Management Best Practices

published on 12 March 2024

Effective corporate travel and expense management can significantly impact a company's budget and operational efficiency. Here's a straightforward guide to the best practices:

  • Set Clear Goals: Define what you want your travel and expense policy to achieve.
  • Simplify Language: Ensure policies are easy to understand for everyone.
  • Comprehensive Guidelines: Provide detailed instructions on travel approvals, booking procedures, and expense reporting.
  • Visual Clarity and Organization: Use lists, tables, and clear headings to make information accessible.
  • Incorporate Employee Needs: Tailor policies to also reflect what's important to your team.
  • Use Real-World Examples: Illustrate policies with actual scenarios to clarify rules.
  • Special Situations and Policy Exceptions: Plan for exceptions to maintain flexibility.
  • Regular Policy Revisions: Keep your policy up-to-date with regular reviews.
  • Leverage Technology: Use software to streamline processes and ensure compliance.
  • Automate The Approval Process: Set up systems for efficient review and approval of expenses.

These steps help balance strict budget control with the practical needs of travelers, ensuring policies are both effective and embraced by the team.

1. Define Clear Objectives for Your Travel and Expense Policy

It's really important to know what you want to achieve with your travel and expense rules. This makes sure they help your company in the right ways. Here's how to do it:

Set goals for saving money

  • Decide how much money you want to save by managing travel and expenses better. This could be a set amount or a percentage.

Understand your spending better

  • Try to get a clearer picture of where your company's money goes, if it sticks to the budget, and any spending trends.

Make sure everyone follows the rules

  • Aim for more people turning in expense reports that stick to the rules. This helps keep an eye on spending.

Make things easier

  • Find ways to make booking trips, getting approvals, paying back employees, and filling out reports easier. Using tools that automate these tasks can help a lot.

Hold people accountable

  • Make it clear that the policy is about using the company's money wisely and ethically.

Show your company's values

  • Explain how following these spending rules reflects the company's core values like honesty, responsibility, and being efficient.

By starting with clear goals that connect to what your company is all about, you can make effective policies and see how well they work. This keeps everyone focused on what matters for the business.

2. Simplify Language for Better Understanding

To make sure everyone gets what the rules about spending and travel mean, companies should:

  • Write in easy, straightforward words, avoiding hard legal and financial terms
  • Give clear examples and explain important words
  • Use bullet points to highlight the main ideas
  • Include pictures, charts, and diagrams to show what you mean
  • If needed, translate the rules into the languages your team speaks
  • Break down long documents into smaller, easier-to-read parts
  • Ask for questions and give contact details for the people in charge of these rules

Writing in simple language helps everyone, no matter their job or where they are, understand the rules better. This leads to everyone following the rules more closely.

Here are some tips for writing clearly:

  • Keep your sentences short, aim for less than 20 words
  • Write in a direct way and avoid roundabout sentences
  • Stay away from industry jargon, abbreviations, and complex terms
  • Choose simpler words over complicated ones
  • Explain terms that are hard to avoid
  • Use positive words instead of negative ones
  • Split long paragraphs into smaller pieces
  • Use the Flesch Reading Ease score to see if your writing is easy to understand

The aim is for anyone in the company to easily understand what's required without getting confused. This helps make sure the rules are followed the same way by everyone. You can use surveys to check if your writing is clear enough or if it needs to be simpler. Clear communication is crucial for making sure policies work as intended.

3. Comprehensive Guidelines on Travel and Expense Processes

To help everyone understand and follow the rules, here's a straightforward guide to managing travel and expenses:

Travel Approvals

  • Explain who needs to say yes to travel plans and how much can be spent.
  • Make getting these approvals quick and easy.

Booking Procedures

  • Use specific travel agencies or websites we trust.
  • Follow guidelines for flight classes, hotel quality, and car rentals.

Expense Reimbursement

  • List what kinds of spending we'll pay back and what proof you need.
  • Submit expense reports quickly after your trip.

Spending Limits

  • Set daily spending limits for meals, hotels, and small costs.
  • Limit how much can be spent on flights, hotels, and car rentals.

Payment Methods

  • Share when to use company cards, personal money, or get money in advance.

Expense Reporting

  • Ask for detailed reports with receipts and reasons for spending.
  • Use tools that automatically track spending from company cards.

Policy Compliance

  • Make it clear that following these rules is a must.
  • Explain what happens if someone doesn't follow the rules.

Travel Safety and Security

  • Offer info on how to check if a place is safe to travel to.
  • Sign up for services that keep track of where travelers are.

Preferred Vendors

  • Point out which travel agencies, websites, and hotels to use.
  • Work out deals for lower prices with these providers.

Non-Reimbursable Expenses

  • Tell which costs won't be covered, like alcohol, fun activities, or too-expensive meals.

Expense Auditing

  • Regularly check expense reports.
  • Look for any rule-breaking or wrong spending.

4. Visual Clarity and Organization

Making your company's travel and expense rules easy to read and understand is key. Here's how you can do it:

Use lists

Break down tricky parts into bullet points. For steps in a process, number them so it's clear what to do first, second, and so on. Lists make everything easier to read.

Highlight important bits

Use bold for headings and important points so they stand out. This helps readers find what they need quickly.

Summarize with tables

Put important details like how much can be spent, who needs to approve expenses, and what to document in tables. Tables make it easy to see the big picture at a glance.

Keep it logical

Arrange your policy so it makes sense from start to finish. Put similar topics together.

Keep paragraphs short

Long paragraphs are hard to read. Try to keep them to a few sentences.

Space it out

Adding space between paragraphs makes your policy easier on the eyes.

Be consistent

Make sure your whole policy looks the same. This includes headings, text, and tables. Consistency makes your policy look professional and easy to follow.

By making your travel and expense policy visually clear and well-organized, you help everyone understand and follow the rules better. This means they'll know exactly what's expected of them.

5. Incorporate Employee Needs and Preferences

When putting together rules for company travel and spending, it's really important to think about what employees need and like. This makes people more likely to follow the rules, work better, and be happier.

Here's how you can do this:

  • Ask employees what they prefer for hotels, flights, and car rentals through surveys.
  • Make sure to include support for people with disabilities, special diets, or other specific needs.
  • Be flexible for those with family needs, like allowing kids to come along on some trips.
  • Set fair daily budgets for meals and other costs.
  • Let employees collect and use points from traveling.
  • Listen to frequent travelers about which airlines, rental companies, and hotels they prefer.
  • Include extra money for things like tips, internet charges, and luggage fees.
  • Offer guidance on meals that fit with different cultures for trips around the world.

By listening to what employees need, companies can make travel rules that everyone is more likely to follow. This leads to better management of money, following the rules better, and fewer rule breaks.

In the end, a travel plan that understands what employees need shows that the company cares. This approach helps everyone work better and spend money wisely, showing that the company is smart about managing its finances.

6. Use Real-World Examples

When we talk about rules for spending and travel, sharing actual examples can make things much clearer. Here's how you can do this:

Show clear examples of what's okay to spend money on and what's not

For instance:

  • Okay: Spending $15 on dinner during a 2-day work trip
  • Not okay: Buying a $100 bottle of wine at that same dinner

Talk about exceptions using real-life situations

Sometimes, there are special cases where we might cover costs we usually wouldn't. For example:

  • We might pay for alcohol if you're dining with a big potential client, like a $50 bottle of wine, but you need to get it approved first.

Share real expense reports as examples

Look at past expense reports that followed or didn't follow our rules. We'll take out any personal info.

Give examples of travel plans

Show what kinds of flights, hotels, and transport fit our budget and rules for an upcoming event.

Look at how our tools work in practice

Pick a recent trip and see how our booking, reporting, and approval processes helped or didn't help follow the rules.

Work out how much we could save

Look at what we spent in the past few months and figure out how much we could have saved with our new rules.

By using real examples from our own experiences instead of just talking in general, we can explain the rules better and make sure everyone understands why they're important. This hands-on approach helps everyone see how following the rules helps us save money and keep things running smoothly.

7. Cover Special Situations and Policy Exceptions

Sometimes, things don't go as planned and we need to be ready for that. It's good to have a plan for when things are a bit different from the usual.

Business class flights

  • If a flight is longer than 8 hours, we might allow flying business class for health reasons. Just make sure to get it okayed first.

Last-minute travel

  • When something urgent pops up and you need to travel right away, we have a quick way to book flights and hotels, even if they're pricier.

Traveling with others

  • We have rules about costs when employees travel with family members like spouses or kids.

Medical emergencies

  • We'll explain how we handle expenses if you get sick or hurt on a work trip.

Get exceptions approved

  • If you need to do something different from the usual rules, fill out an online form to get it approved ahead of time.

Review exceptions later

  • We'll look back at these special cases to see if we need to make any permanent changes to our main rules.

Update guidelines yearly

  • Every year, we'll check our rules and update them if needed, based on what we've learned from these special situations.

Having a plan for these unique situations makes them easier to handle. By looking back at these exceptions, we can keep improving our travel and expense rules. This way, we stay flexible when needed and learn from each situation to find a good balance.

8. Regular Policy Revisions

It's key to keep your company's rules for travel and spending up-to-date. Here's how to do it simply:

Check the policy every year

  • Make time yearly to go over the policy.
  • See if you need to change any rules because of new feedback or laws.
  • Make sure the policy still fits with what your company wants.

Watch for exceptions and rule breaks

  • Keep an eye on times when employees don't follow the rules or ask to bend them.
  • Figure out if some rules are too hard to understand or follow.
  • Change rules that are too tough to keep up with.

Ask employees how they feel

  • Get anonymous opinions from employees about what's good and what's not.
  • Look for ways to make booking, reporting, getting approvals, and other steps better.

See what others are doing

  • Check out how similar companies handle their travel and spending.
  • Think about if their good ideas could work for your company too.

Involve different people in reviews

  • Get input from people who manage travel, handle money, lead the company, and travel a lot.
  • Listen to ideas from all over the company.

By checking your policy often, you can fix parts that aren't working well and keep it growing with your company. This helps you get the most out of managing travel and expenses.

9. Leverage Technology for Policy Compliance and Efficiency

Using tech can really help make managing travel and expenses easier and make sure everyone is sticking to the rules. Here are some ways companies can use technology to their advantage:

Automate expense reporting: Tools like Expensify, Certify, and Concur can automatically fill out expense reports by using info from corporate credit cards and receipts. This cuts down on manual work and helps avoid mistakes.

Simplify approvals:
Online systems can send expense reports straight to managers for quick approval. They can spot when someone's not following the rules and give a clear view of spending.

Enforce policy compliance: Expense management software can check if reports follow the rules, highlight any issues for fixing, and keep records that show everything's above board.

Optimize travel booking:
Booking tools that know your company's travel policies can help employees make choices that fit the budget and rules for flights, hotels, and car rentals.

Enable real-time visibility:
With online tools, the finance team can see how much is being spent right now, compared to the budget. This helps make sure spending stays on track.

Streamline reimbursements:
Using direct deposit to pay back employees is quicker and cuts out the need for paper checks and manual work.

Promote accountability: Digital records, agreeing to follow the policy, and clear spending info help make sure everyone is doing what they're supposed to.

Simplify policy changes:
With cloud-based systems, updating travel and expense rules is quick and easy for the whole company.

By cutting out paperwork and making sure rules are built into how booking, reporting, approvals, and checks are done, tech tools can make following policies easier. They help save time and money, and make it simpler for both the finance team and employees.

10. Automate The Approval Process

Making the process for approving travel and expense reports automatic can help companies save time and make sure everyone is following the rules. Here's how to do it in a simple way:

Set up workflow rules

  • Create rules that automatically send expense reports to the right people for approval based on things like the employee's role, how much was spent, and what the expense was for.

Enable mobile approvals

  • Make it easy for approvers to say yes or no to reports from anywhere, using their phones or computers.

Speed up approvals with limits

  • Let team leaders automatically approve small expenses, while bigger ones need a check from the finance department.

Use smart approval routing

  • Make sure expenses go to the right person for approval, like meals to a manager and flight costs to the finance team.

Require approver comments

  • Ask approvers to explain any changes they make to a report or why they might say no to an expense.

Enable approver delegations

  • If a manager is not available, they can pick someone else to approve reports in their place to keep things moving.

Review efficiency metrics

  • Keep an eye on how long approvals take and try to find ways to make the process faster.

Integrate travel & expense systems

  • Link your expense reporting tool with travel booking and corporate credit cards for a smoother process.

Making the approval process automatic helps everyone save time and keeps things running smoothly. The main goal is to reduce manual work by setting up smart systems.


Making sure your company handles travel and expenses well is super important to keep costs down and make sure everyone knows what they're supposed to do. Here's what you need to remember:

Set clear goals

  • Decide what you want to achieve with your travel and expense rules, like saving money, understanding your spending better, and making the whole process smoother.

Keep it simple

  • Write the rules in a way that everyone can understand. Use pictures and examples to help explain things.

Guide everyone clearly

  • Spell out everything about travel booking, expense reporting, getting approvals, and getting paid back. This stops people from getting confused.

Listen to your team

  • Think about what your employees need and like when you're making the rules. This makes them more likely to follow them.

Use real-life stories

  • Sharing actual examples can help everyone understand what's okay and what's not.

Be ready for surprises

  • Have plans for when things don't go as expected, like last-minute trips or flying business class on long flights.

Check the rules often

  • Every year, take a look at your policy to see if it needs any changes. This keeps it up-to-date.

Bring in technology

  • Tools like expense management software and corporate credit cards can make everything easier and ensure people are following the rules.

Speed up approvals

  • Set up a system that automatically sends expense reports to the right people for a quick yes or no.

Following these steps helps your company manage travel and expenses in a way that saves money and makes things easier for everyone. It's all about finding the right balance between keeping an eye on costs and not making it too hard for people to follow the rules. Doing this well sets your company up for success.


How do companies manage travel expenses?

Companies handle travel costs in a few smart ways:

  • Corporate credit cards - They give employees these cards to pay for travel costs. This makes it easier to watch spending and pay bills.
  • Expense reporting software - This type of software helps with submitting, approving, and paying back money for travel costs. It can work together with corporate credit cards.
  • Travel management companies - These agencies help book travel needs like flights and hotels, making sure to keep costs low.
  • Spending limits - Companies set daily or total limits on how much can be spent on meals, hotels, and travel to avoid unnecessary expenses.
  • Payment terms - They make clear how to pay for different types of expenses, helping to manage money better.

By doing these things, companies can keep travel costs under control while making sure employees have what they need.

What is the best practice of expense policy?

The best expense policies are:

  • Simple - They're easy to understand, which helps everyone follow them.
  • Relevant - They fit the kinds of spending employees actually do.
  • Well-organized - They're set up in a way that's easy to follow.
  • Easy to find - Everyone can get to them online whenever they need.
  • Practical - They match how the business really works.
  • Up-to-date - They're reviewed regularly to keep them current.

Good policies make it easier for everyone to know what to do and help keep spending in check.

What is the T&E policy?

A T&E (travel and expense) policy is a set of rules about spending on business trips and entertainment. It helps companies manage costs by setting guidelines for:

  • How to plan and book travel
  • What you can spend money on
  • How to pay for expenses
  • How to report spending
  • The steps for getting spending approved
  • How to make sure everyone follows the rules

This policy helps businesses keep an eye on one of their big costs: travel and entertainment spending.

How do I write a T&E policy?

Here's how to write a good T&E policy:

  • Set goals - Aim for saving money, making things run smoothly, and making sure rules are followed.
  • Use simple words - Make sure everything is easy to understand.
  • Explain everything - Cover how to book, report, approve, and get paid back for travel costs.
  • Make it clear - Use charts and lists to help explain things.
  • Think about what employees need - Set fair budgets and be flexible.
  • Use real examples - Show how the rules work with actual situations.
  • Plan for exceptions - Have a way to deal with unusual situations.
  • Keep it current - Review and update the policy regularly.

A well-thought-out policy helps control costs while making sure employees have what they need. The key is to find the right balance.

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