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The ROI conundrum of corporate travel and expenses


Manoj Ganapathy

Founder & CEO, SalesTrip

How combining travel and expense management solutions with CRM systems is helping companies calculate ROI — and challenging the world of business travel.

As an entrepreneur, I have been continually frustrated by the world of corporate travel and expenses — both as a travelling employee and as CEO of my own company.

For example, I remember being given my team’s total travel costs for the month; but working with a siloed and unsynchronised travel and expenses system meant I could never stand back and see the bigger picture. I couldn’t see where individual team members were travelling to, or which customers they were meeting — or, crucially, if the overall travel spend was offering a positive return on investment (ROI). 

I’d wonder why we had spent £75,000 on travel in one month when we’d only spent £50,000 the month before. Had the tickets been more expensive? Were we needing to travel more? And ultimately, were we going to get 50% more sales because of it? I just didn’t know.

I couldn’t see if the overall travel spend was offering a positive return on investment.

Simplifying the business of travel

Part of the problem is that individual bits of travel data are often hidden away on multiple platforms that don’t ‘talk’ to each other. When I was organising my own travel, it was frustrating to have to pull all that information together from various sources. I’d have to go into my calendar and emails to sort out my flights and hotel bookings. I also had to make calculations myself, such as: ‘If I have a meeting at 8am, is it more cost-effective to take the first flight in the morning or the last flight the previous night and stay over?’ That was time-consuming. I’d rather have been doing more meaningful work and generating more revenue for the company.

The need for integrated business travel systems

Businesses require travel management systems that balance ROI against travel expenses and are linked to a company’s financial and operational data such as that found in Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM). Integrating straightforward booking and expense systems not only makes the business of travel more efficient, making it a better experience for employees all round and increasing productivity, but it also allows managers to understand whether their team’s travel results in increased revenue. A system that comes equipped with real-time analytics also enables decisions on whether a trip is worth it or not to be based on solid data rather than gut instinct. 

Travel should be viewed as a mechanism to drive business growth by seeing tangible ROI — not as an uncontrollable cost or hindrance to business activity.

Reducing unecessary costs and fees

Consolidating your travel and expense systems into a single platform comes with added benefit too. You’re reducing the number of paid systems in your company – and as a result, reducing unnecessary third-party costs through the elimination of transaction fees. When you pay just one fee, whether you’ve made one booking a month or hundreds, CFOs know they will always be given the best deal for their needs.

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