As the U.S. economy continues to recover, organizations that previously cut travel to the bone are starting to look beyond revenue-generating trips, sending employees to conventions and other networking and development activities. As business travel and other travel and entertainment (T&E) spending increase, so does the value and importance of efficient, cost-effective expense management.

This year, industry observers expect spending on business travel in the United States to grow 5.1 percent in 2013, up from 1.8 percent growth in 2012, and reach a total of $268.5 billion, according to an article on the USA Today website.Travel spending has been gradually rising since hitting its lowest point in 2009.

Research by the Aberdeen Group suggests the average organization spends 8 percent to 12 percent of its annual budget on travel, entertainment and employee reimbursable expenses. For many businesses, these expenses are second only to employee compensation as a controllable cost. In addition to increased travel spending, employee reimbursable expenses are expanding to include such costs as court fees, membership payments, home office expenses and mobile payments.

In this situation, the financial benefits of efficient, automated travel expense management become ever more significant. Switching from manual expense processing to automated online expense reporting like Chrome River EXPENSE can save organizations a bundle. The average cost of manual processing is $21.41 per report, while using a fully automated system reduces the cost to only $8.50 per report. Even for companies already using some automation, moving to full automation can save as much as 43 percent.

No two organizations are exactly alike when it comes to T&E expenses. But as travel spending and the number of incoming business expense reports increases, so does the potential impact of introducing efficient, automated travel expense management.

How have your company’s travel policies changed over the last year? Are employees at your organization traveling to more conferences and conventions than in in the past? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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