Controlling business trip expenses for employees

Provide employees with guidelines about what types of hotels they can stay in while traveling on business.

Provide employees with guidelines about what types of hotels they can stay in while traveling on business.

By Henry Brown

As a small business owner, it’s unlikely that you’ll be sending your staff on international business trips each week, but trips will happen every now and again regardless of the size of your company. The good news is that these trips will (hopefully) turn out to be hugely beneficial to the prosperity of your business. The bad news is that they’re unavoidably expensive. There are ways, however, in which you can limit the amount of money it costs your company.

Setting the standards

You, as the business owner, will be required to go on a business trip at some stage. When that happens, it’s important that you set the standards you want everyone else in your company to follow. You can’t fly first class and stay at the best hotels if you’re not allowing your employees to do the same. Not as a small business owner. As a business, you should have an established policy regarding trips, including how much you’re able to spend, what the company will and will not cover, and the types of hotels that employees should book.

Daily allowances

Though it is most definitely a business trip, you’ll still have to pay for more or less the same expenses as you would if you were paying for someone’s holiday. That means, hotels, travel, and food will all have to be covered. Ensuring that every employee keeps (or takes photos of) their receipts will help with expense reports, and will also enable you to unequivocally determine where each and every cent of your company’s money has gone. Talking of which, you should make clear how much they’re able to spend on food on any given day, known as their per diem – and whether that includes alcoholic drinks.

Handle details in advance

If you’re looking to save money, then you should try and handle as many of the details regarding the business trip before it happens. For example, in some cities you’re able to get deals on transport from the airport to downtown if you book in advance. If you think that you might be making repeat trips to a specific destination, consider racking up frequent flyer miles with a specific airline that may be used to reduce or even eliminate the cost of similar trips in the future. Similarly, explore whether you can qualify for a corporate rate at a hotel chain. Having a well-oiled travel itinerary will help you to avoid costly, avoidable expenses, and can also save you money in other ways, too – for example, plan properly and employees can travel on the day of their business meeting, which means they won’t need a hotel the night before.

Remember: There’s an objective

With all this being said, it’s important to have the right approach to a business trip for your employees. They’re not going for their own benefit, and may even prefer not to go, so try not to cut too many corners when it comes to expenses. You’ll need your employees to be excited and raring to go during their meeting, and they’ll be anything but that if they’re had cheap but long travel journeys and a poor night’s sleep.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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