“I’d rather go to the moon than do the reimbursement!”
“The pain of doing reimbursement can never be described in words.”
“Every business travel is followed by a large pile of invoice and a long journey of reimbursement.”
These complaints to a certain degree reflect some reality about business travel. It is true that employees loathe advancing the expenses themselves. Many of them, fresh out of college in their 20s, earn a salary of no more than a few thousand, and every time when they get back from business travel, they find it difficult to ensure their living standard. Many business travel managers in companies have been aware of the fact that many employees are caught in the dilemma between “willing to take a business travel” and “unwilling to deal with the extra troubles”.
In recent years, as the SOE reform has been making marked breakthroughs, a myriad of more dynamic and efficient SOEs with greater international competitiveness and impacts, have stood out and developed with high quality. It has been one of the crucial considerations under the increasingly open market circumstance that how business travel management, as a specific market, can achieve the unity of business objective and employee satisfaction.
On 20th September 2018, the AirPlus International China SOE Workshop entitled “Mutual Shaping and Propelling – Streamlined Centralized Management of Business Travel” was held in Beijing. Senior leaders in charge of business travel management from large-sized SOEs and industrial elites from business travel service companies assembled on the workshop for in-depth discussion about the measures and models of Business Travel Management for large-sized SOEs in the future. The workshop was divided into two sessions. The invited guests exchanged their ideas about two major topics of “Streamlined Management” and “Centralized Payment”.
In the initial stage of business travel management, the major concern is probably the price of the product, as it is a transparent figure. At the time, the transparent cost management is particularly urgent. Today, business exchanges among different groups and subsidiary corporations are becoming increasingly close. Business travel management has gradually evolved from air ticket to the whole process of business travel. With huge internal demand, streamlined management can better facilitate the business processes.
As the managing director of AirPlus International China, KJ Wu mentioned, “The systemic optimization of compliance and procedures is crucial to the current business travel management. We need an optimized internal workflow involving financial management and settlement.”
The invitees shared the consensus that companies build up business travel platforms in order to increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of management. Since the initial stage, the development of business travel management has gone through three stages: executive order, service support and technical improvement. Only when the whole process of application, examination, approval, pre-order, reimbursement and even statistical analysis achieves close-loop management can the company reach the goal of regularizing employees’ business travel.
To introduce the system, difficulties regarding financial settlement will continue to appear. For instance, when SOEs are settling the account, reimbursement is involved. With the centralized settlement model, employees are able to take the business travel with no need for invoice. However, during the implementation, some companies will insist on settling the payment after the employees finish reimbursement application. How to achieve centralized payment without the employees’ reimbursement has become a goal of many SOEs.
Centralized payment is the invisible tool for streamlined business travel management. With centralized management and payment, the situation where employees advance the expenses become less and less common. At the same time, the application of technology and introduction of resources ensure the mutual help and resonance between the financial department and the front-end performers.
SOEs favor centralized payment for the following reasons: first, to make compliance transparent; second, to lower the cost; third, to satisfy the employees and reduce the time they spend on reimbursement. In terms of the cost, the direct cost reduction is a slow and gradual process, but through the optimization of internal policy, improvement of process and development of system, theoretically the indirect cost has infinite room for further reduction.
Centralized payment is good news, but how we should take the employees into consideration?
First, provide an easier, more efficient platform procedure without advanced payment. Once the employees feel the convenience, their satisfaction will increase. The expenses can only be lowered to a certain figure, but the satisfaction of employees is infinite.
Second, improve the transparency of information. Regularly communicate with employees and departments with more frequent business travel and understand their needs. Optimize, supply and satisfy their demand within the possible condition. In fact this means that the rights and obligations of both parties are equal. When they are balanced, everyone is able to better understand and accept each other.
At the workshop, the spark of thought stirred up wisdom and consensus. This was the third SOE Workshop of AirPlus International China. This year also marks the first decade of AirPlus International in China. The performance remains impressive. The latest data shows that by the end of August, China has surpassed Italy and become the third largest market in terms of total transaction volume.
Currently, AirPlus International is exploring new solutions with new technologies such as digitalization, mobilization and blockchain etc. With the firm commitment to the business, along with new technological solutions and new systems, AirPlus International is able to provide better service and support for clients. To sum up, AirPlus International is making effort to create a smart business travel management platform through the streamlined model.