HOTEL BOOKING IS A MAJOR ADMINISTRATIVE HEADACHE FOR SMES

Unmanaged hotel spend also exposes finance professionals to compliance risk

Travel booking for work is an expensive, administrative and compliance headache for companies according to research by global hotel booking platform Roomex.

The survey found that a third of all respondents claimed that administrative efficiency was their primary objective when looking at corporate hotel booking, followed by 22 per cent who cited cost savings as top priority and 13 per cent time saving.

Cost containment was cited by 37 per cent of finance and procurement professionals as the main challenge when booking corporate travel. Small to medium businesses spend a huge amount on travel – with it ranking as one of the highest controllable line items affecting a company’s profitability. In particular, hotel accommodation is a major spend category which if left unmanaged leads to costs escalating. Furthermore, 25 per cent felt that the lack of integration with accounting systems and another 25 per cent found hotel invoices did not match internal cost codes caused issues when booking travel.

The survey uncovered internal and regulatory audit issues, which could have adverse legal consequences for professionals in finance and procurement. All of those surveyed claimed that their companies have travel policies in place, yet over a third stated that these policies are not always followed, or reported fairly lax adherence. Moreover, 37 per cent stated that these policies are influenced by external regulations within their business sector, with a further 13 per cent unsure, indicating a strong risk of running into trouble with statutory bodies or industry watchdogs.

Julian Kulkarni, Vice President of Marketing at Roomex, commented: “It is clear from the survey that many employees face a wide range of difficulties in managing hotel bookings, from the office assistant or PA who makes the booking right through to the person travelling and the CFO. Organising travel arrangements for yourself, an army of delegates, colleagues or employees can be a nightmare and what’s more, keeping yourself and all of your travellers up-to-date can cause a serious headache.”

Julian continued: “Complicating factors such as negotiating rates with suppliers, last minute cancellations, compliance with internal and externally regulated travel policies, meeting specific needs of business travellers, duty of care to travellers and managing multiple invoices from dozens or even hundreds of hotels adds to the stress for not only the hotel booker but also finance and accounting departments. Companies need to wake up to the fact that technology has made it both easier and harder for corporate travel bookings and make sure their solutions are simple for the person travelling.”

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