Author Profile Picture

Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

Read more about Jamie Lawrence

Five ways to take control of employee travel expenses


Taking control of employee travel expenses is about setting clear boundaries whilst also allowing employees to act with autonomy within them. This allows you to maximise flexibility and engagement without compromising on security or cost control.

Here are five tips to help you take control of employee travel:

Set simple policies that flex

People tend to choose the easy options and will look for shortcuts if policies are too complex. These shortcuts often happen outside official channels and can be invisible to organisations.

If you want employees to follow your policy – and you do, because then you can track activity and find efficiencies – you need to make things as easy as possible. Simple policies encourage staff to book in advance, saving you money.

Simplicity must be combined with flexibility. If policies are simple, but not flexible, employees may look elsewhere because their needs are not being met. Flexibility ensures employees’ personal circumstances can be accommodated.

Ultimately, travel policies should be like rubber bands: the same for all but with the ability to flex based on personal needs and situations.

Set up approved suppliers and make savvy choices

Approved suppliers for trains, hotels and other travel expenses can help organisations control costs.

Organisations may get additional benefits through approved supplier arrangements, such as longer cancellation periods, rewards and special offers, which can save money.

Choosing approved suppliers also helps organisations to centralise spend. There are several benefits to this, which we cover in the next tip.

Centralise your spend

Without a central solution, organisations cannot have visibility on multiple employee travel expenses.

It also makes the process of booking and managing arrangements more costly, as they will exist in multiple systems, on multiple websites, all with different administrators and gatekeepers.

Centralising spend allows you to reduce the number of systems used, streamline processes (making them easier) and reduce costs. Once you’re centralised, you can start getting and using data. And that leads us onto…

Turn data into insight and action

With centralised spending, you can start looking at your data to see if you can create efficiencies.

For example, do employees consistently book expensive routes? Are they unsure when off-peak services start and when they end? Can meetings be shifted to different times to make big savings?

It’s only when you start looking at the data, understanding user behaviour and analysing trends that you can spot efficiencies and take action.

Implement a mobile-first strategy

It’s frustrating to wait until you’re back in the office to book travel, check the status of your journey or process expenses. Being mobile-enabled allows employees to process receipts and manage arrangements on the go, reducing stress, frustration and saving time.

At the same time, if people are booking travel, they’re more likely to get better rates if they book them at the point of need, rather than have to wait until they’re at a computer or back in the office.

Trainline for Business has a free rail travel management tool for organisations to book and manage business rail travel and save an average of 33% on advance bookings vs. booking at the station on the day of travel. It’s simple to compare journeys and prices, book tickets and manage changes for multiple employees. Expenses are managed centrally and organisations can monitor spend whilst supporting duty of care obligations. In addition, travellers can create a business profile in the Trainline App to get real time information on the move. 

One Response

  1. Don’t forget the (radical)
    Don’t forget the (radical) step of trying to make your staff take responsibility for their own spend – making their own mini investment decisions. Isn’t this the latest TEAL organisational thinking?

Author Profile Picture
Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

Get the latest from HRZone.

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.