Heads up, finance leaders. There’s a critical shift happening in the travel expense management world centered around non-employee expenses.
For a long time, travel expense management mostly focused on traditional employees, like your salespeople, field techs and executives. But that left a glaring gap for non-employees, including:
- board members
- job candidates
- interns, and
- employees’ family members.
Filling the gap
As of late, some providers in the software market noticed and began working to fill that gap. One prime example: In 2019, BTN’s Business Travel Innovator Award and its People’s Choice Award both went to business travel software Pana, which focuses on helping companies with non-employee travel.
BTN shined a light on this type of solution because managing non-employee travel is a growing challenge, especially for the finance teams handling trip details and expenses.
Now, to stay ahead, companies are looking to address non-employee travel with newer software or other process changes.
Persistent pain points
Typically, companies have separate processes for employee and non-employee expenses, explains BTN. And even if you have a great T&E process, non-employee expenses can present unique challenges with communication, compliance and payment.
It’s a tricky niche because companies usually don’t have profiles or payment methods for many non-employees, says The Company Dime. And trips booked outside the normal process can lead to inefficient spend and leakage with data and reporting.
Plus, a company’s reputation may be on the line if a non-employee has a poor travel experience. It could turn away a great candidate or tarnish a good vendor relationship.
That being said, some companies have workarounds in place to handle non-employee expenses. But as non-employee travel continues to grow and impact business reputations and bottom lines, companies want a more permanent fix.
What works for your company?
With others involved in T&E (e.g., A/P, IT, travel coordinators), consider how you should address non-employee travel. That may mean adding software, changing processes, etc.
Of course, your method will largely depend on how much non-employee travel you manage. For example: Does your company bring on a lot of traveling contractors? Are you intern-heavy? Is HR scouting recruits who live far away?
Take a look at your company’s current numbers and future plans to help you weigh your options.