Aug 17, 2011 boring posts
One thing we all remember – Jack Gilbert. Thanks to Adam Smoler for passing along this gem, we all know the many crazy T&E stories from DCLK! I know I lost thousands in rejected expense reports.
Expense Report Confidential:
Business travel has been picking up, though economic jitters could prompt companies to hit the brakes this fall.
If receipts could talk, what would they say about how you travel on the company dime?
Business travelers are eating well, spending an average $39 per meal when dining alone, an analysis of corporate expense reports shows.
They’re also flying in style. Travelers who expensed in-flight services spent an average $49, with alcohol, meals, Wi-Fi service and seat-back entertainment the most likely purchases. (Improved seating, upgrades, baggage fees and airport clubs are counted separately.)
The Middle Seat Podcast
For insights into how business travelers fly, eat, sleep and entertain when they’re on the road, The Wall Street Journal asked Inc., the giant Redmond, Wash.-based expense-management company, to crunch some numbers. A look at data from 8.3 million expense reports from about 3,000 of the 15,000 companies Concur services offers a picture of what we spend when we travel for work.
Business travel has been picking up, though economic jitters could prompt companies to hit the brakes this fall. Overall, travel and entertainment spending was up in the second quarter compared to the same period of 2010, Concur said. The average airfare world-wide in the sample rose 9.3% to $447. The average hotel room rate was up 5.6% to $103 per night, excluding meals, Internet service and other itemized charges. Michael Hilton, Concur’s co-founder and executive vice president of marketing, called the increases meaningful.
New York generates the most travel and entertainment expense reports—and is also the most expensive.
Together, airfare and hotels add up to more than 40% of the average expense account. Dining makes up nearly 10% of the average expense account, and “entertainment,” usually group meals, adds another 5%.
New York generates the most travel and entertainment expense reports—and is also the most expensive. The average hotel-room rate in New York was $198, well ahead of No. 2 Washington, D.C., at $173. The average tab when travelers dine alone in New York was $68. That’s still cheaper than Copenhagen, which at $82 per meal is the most expensive city in the world for business dining—higher than Paris, Tokyo, New York and Sydney.
Travelers don’t skimp much on meals, at least according to their expense accounts. They spent, on average, $39 for a meal when eating alone. Of course, at upscale hotels, room service for breakfast, lunch or dinner can easily run $40. Meals in San Francisco, Miami, New Orleans all averaged more than $45 apiece on expense accounts, Concur said.
Concur processes transactions from about 15 million users totaling more than $50 billion per year. At most companies, everyone from the CEO to junior employees fills out an electronic form that breaks down business-related spending, whether it’s for a private-jet rental or some office supplies.
In its analysis, no specific personal or corporate details were revealed. Concur is seeing some changes in behavior. Employees are taking longer to file expense accounts, and companies are taking a bit longer to pay. This year in the second quarter, the average submittal time was 21 days, compared to 16 days last year in the same period. Average processing time rose to 4.4 days from 3.8 days.
Most people use company-issued credit cards, but cash transactions and personal credit-card use are also noteworthy. Airfare, not surprisingly, was charged to company cards 83% of the time, but airline fees only 19% of the time. About 60% of dining charges went on company credit cards. Some employees prefer using their own credit cards to collect miles or other rewards; others pay cash using a travel advance. Paying cash or using a personal card, however, also opens the door to more-creative accounting when filing expense reports.
Automation has vastly changed the expense-report landscape, forcing travelers to more-strictly comply with company policies. Hotel receipts sent electronically to expense-report processors make it more difficult for business travelers to hide in-room movies or minibar purchases, considered non-reimbursable expenses by many companies.
Likewise, car-rental companies and some taxi services are increasingly submitting receipts automatically. So the days when the driver hands over a blank receipt—enabling travelers to fudge the totals—may soon disappear.
Tracking numerous new airline fees has become a major headache for travel managers. The Department of Transportation has proposed new rules that would require airlines to more clearly disclose fees to customers, which could make it easier for employees to itemize on reports.
Concur’s airline-fee data, still not fully developed, shows that in the second quarter, the average entry for baggage fees was about $29 and the average upgrade was about $66, Mr. Hilton says. When employees put in for reimbursement for airport clubs, the average fee was $145, reflecting a mix of $400 annual memberships and $50 day passes.
“How much does an airline ticket really cost? Corporations don’t have a great sense of how much this is truly costing them these days,” Mr. Hilton said.
The data also offer some eye-openers. The 10 priciest expense reports from the sample data totaled more than $200,000 each. Many of them paid for large meetings—blocks of hotel rooms, meeting rooms and banquet-sized food and beverage bills, Concur said. One report listed $257,000 worth of “incentive cards”—gift cards bought as rewards. Another had a telecom expense of $353,000—centrally billed mobile phones for employees. Another report listed a $22,000 expense for executive jet rental. Another had $944 for samba dancers.