Making travel arrangements and bookings for your employees travelling for business can be both costly and time-consuming (two of the reasons why companies may use a Travel Management Company (TMC) in the first place). One of the most time demanding tasks is paying pay for business travel services, and if you’re managing this yourself, this may involve the reconciliation of dozens of invoices and expense receipts before you can even begin to make sense of who’s owed what.
Of course, you may be happy as you are, perhaps paying by BACS or cheque, as invoices become due and reimbursing expenses to out of pocket employees. You “know where you are” with these tried and tested methods. However, you should consider some smarter options to streamline the process and a corporate travel agency can help you with that.
Most corporate travel agencies will offer you some or all of the following options and you should be able to mix and match these methods for different booking types to meet your requirements.
#1 Variable Direct Debit
This is when payment is taken directly from your bank usually a set number of days after the end of the month, in which the booking is made (twice per month for air bookings). This payment method is convenient, automatic and can improve your credit score by making you a consistent payer. This method will also provide you with between 15 and 45 days credit.
#2 Credit Cards
Paying on your company credit card is still low-cost, the TMC will typically charge you between 1.7-3%, and you will automatically extend your credit terms beyond those offered by the TMC. However, you’ve still got to settle-up monthly to avoid interest charges. But with this the real cost is the time it takes you to pay for each booking with your card.
#3 Debit Cards
This offers much the same as above Credit Card solution. However, you are only receiving the credit terms provided by your TMC.
#4 Corporate Charge Cards/Lodge Cards
Both solutions are generally the same, the difference being that the Charge Card is a plastic card whereas the Lodge Card is a virtual card.
Each time you make a booking, the value of the booking is charged to your Charge Card or Lodge Card number without you having to do anything. You settle-up each month rather like a credit card but you must pay the full value.
Merchant fees are relatively low (below 2%), and they offer a range of benefits:
- All your billing is centralised in one place.
- Access to your account is online
- Your travel spend can be analysed in detail by you and your Account Manager
- You no longer need to reconcile receipts to your invoice
- You get free comprehensive travel insurance
- You get Reward Points and complimentary items such as concierge services or airport lounge access.
There are several providers in the market, AirPlus, American Express and Diners International being the market leaders. They offer different credit terms, but you should expect to get between 40 and 60 days.
So, there you have it, you can have all of your business travel services covered with your Travel Management Company with your payment solutions in order. If you have an outdated payment solution, you will almost certainly not be as efficient and cost-effective as you need to be, so check with your TMC what options are best for you and your corporate travel needs.