Travel management software isn’t just for large enterprises anymore. Small to medium-sized businesses experience massive benefits when they book and manage travel with software designed for businesses, instead of booking on consumer sites and then scrambling to track down the invoices.
Whether you’re a long-time user of travel-management software, or you’re researching this software category for the first time, we’re covering everything you need to know about the top features, vendor options, and the market as a whole.
Keep reading to find out what the market’s top tools are when it comes to booking corporate travel as well as tracking and reporting travel expenses. We also included a section with useful add-ons and extra tools that can improve the business travel booking process and travel experience, as well as help with data analysis.
What is travel management software?
Travel management software is used to book trips, manage upcoming trips, and track and report on previous trips. Other important features and uses include the automation of corporate travel policies and the ability to consolidate travel invoices and vendors.
The old way for small businesses: Employees read the company travel policy on a PDF handout or internal wiki, use any website to book their trip, then have to get reimbursed.
The old way for large businesses: Use travel agencies or travel software with big markups, commissions, and support call fees.
The NEW way (for businesses of any size): Employees book for themselves using travel management software that includes the company travel policy inside (to block or require approval for trips out of policy). The software also includes company payment details so no reimbursements are necessary!
Top travel management software
Most travel software will help you track and report on spending to help you make budget decisions, but doesn’t include everything you need for taxes and accounting purposes.
While travel management software should integrate with your expense system, these are separate tools. That’s why we’ve broken down our software recommendations into those that help you manage travel versus those that help you report on expenses, as well as extra tools and add-ons.
Tools for booking and managing travel
TravelPerk offers the world’s largest travel inventory alongside powerful travel management features. It helps travelers and managers easily book travel for themselves and others within policy.
TravelPerk also provides travel budget owners and finance teams with all of the features they need: travel spend tracking, expense reporting and integrations, and compliance insights. The tool is top-rated by travelers and administrators. Plus, TravelPerk offers a free business travel software option which is ideal for those businesses looking to access a top-quality tool without the extra costs.
Salestrip can be a good business travel software option for sales teams and consultants who use Salesforce. It allows you to track and manage travel at the CRM level, so you can assign trips to different customer accounts.
If you like the experience of having a travel agency, but you also want modern software to go along with it, then you might enjoy Flightfox, which is a travel agency management software that provides an online tool where you can review upcoming trips, download expense reports, etc.
While it won’t work as a complete stand-alone travel management solution, Airbnb for Work offers the features that businesses need to safely and easily let their travelers stay with Airbnb for business trips, including streamlined payment and duty of care integrations. Keep in mind that some travel management software (like TravelPerk) allow you to book with Airbnb for Work.
Tools for managing travel expenses
Expensify is the leading solution in the expense management category. It offers a mobile app for easy expensing (just take a picture of your receipt and it will enter the data for you). Plus, it now has a new credit card offer, so that employees don’t even have to bother with receipt uploads for many transactions.
Brex is a corporate credit card that is great for startups and established businesses alike. It offers higher limits than most cards, better rewards, and it makes it easy to track and manage spend across all categories, including travel.
With spend management software and a credit card offering, Spendesk helps companies track and control spend. Companies can get real-time insight into all spend, which can be easily sorted and categorized to help with budgetary decision-making.
Zoho Expense is a popular expense management platform primarily used by small businesses. You can upload receipts and record expenses so that accounting teams have all of the information they need.
In addition to corporate cards and mobile expensing, Fyle has robust expense management features, including approval workflows, spend analytics, and travel spend advances.
Yokoy’s expense tracking software makes it easy for medium and large enterprises to track, submit, and reimburse expenses. The platform uses artificial intelligence to automatically extract information and fill out expense forms, including VAT validation and reclaim as well as finding outliers and identifying possible fraud.
This spend management solution is designed for businesses of all sizes, and includes smart corporate cards that make business purchases easy to track, categorize, and report. Divvy’s free tool allows businesses to create budgets, track expenses, and generate virtual credit cards to manage subscriptions.
Expensya’s software makes it easy for businesses to manage their daily expenses, from office costs to business travel. The solution helps streamline expense reporting processes thanks to accounting automation, self-managed expenses, dedicated options for daily allowances, intelligent validation and control, smart recognition technology, and integration with a wide range of software solutions.
This intelligent app for employee expenses offers an easy way to track travel expenses, allowances, and any other additional expenses. By reducing manual input and checking, Circula helps businesses save time and comply with policies and regulations. A mobile app is also available to allow employees to easily report their expenses and submit invoices, so that everything can be processed digitally.
Remember: for whatever travel management software and expense management software you choose, make sure they can integrate.
Other interesting tools and add-ons
Rocketrip’s platform allows companies to control their travel costs by encouraging employees to make smarter choices. The tool can forecast the cost of each trip, recommend money-saving travel options, and reward employees who spend less. Rocketrip is not a replacement for any corporate travel booking platform, but it’s meant to be used alongside to increase savings.
This add-on provides insights and alerts for trips, which help enhance savings and improve the overall travel experience. From health and safety alerts to COVID-19 information, as well as an option that presents less-expensive alternatives, Tripkicks can definitely improve your business traveler experience.
Traxo offers data aggregation and intelligence solutions, which facilitate auditing, avoiding data leaks, identifying saving opportunities, and optimizing a company’s corporate travel program. The tool allows travel managers to really stay on top of all of their company’s corporate travel activities.
Traveling employees can stay safe and informed thanks to TravelCare’s risk management solution, which is included in TravelPerk’s platform. It’s a safe way to get back to business travel, featuring up-to-date travel alerts and information on restrictions before, during, and after the trip.
This solution allows companies to manage all their travel spend, regardless of where their employees booked. Thanks to CapTrav’s cloud-based solution, companies can track and report 100% of their travel spend from different channels.
This app will make packing for your next business trip a lot easier. Based on the weather forecast for your destination, as well as the activities planned and the length of the trip, PackPoint will generate a customized packing list for you. Stop stressing about packing — let technology do it for you!
Say hello to your new personal travel assistant, an app that will plan, book, track and manage your travels. Their service helps you organize and keep track of your travel schedule, check-in, and receive notifications and updates on terminals, gates, and baggage belts. Other interesting features include travel statistics and a carbon-neutral traveler program. Travel greener, travel smarter!
Features to look for in travel management software
End-to-end travel management platforms that cover all functionality from traveler data management to booking to policy creation to automatic expensing and more are definitely the best solution on the market. But they vary greatly in their functionality and in the cost savings they can provide to businesses, the main driver being access to low-cost inventory.
Here’s a checklist of the critical things to look out for when vetting travel management solutions:
- Ease of booking for administrators
- Self booking for travelers
- Free 24/7 support
- Massive travel inventory
- Automatic travel policy compliance with customizable policies and approval workflows
- Future-ready tool that will scale and adapt
- Around-the-clock travel support including direct line, chat, and email
- No additional charge for travel support
- Consolidated invoicing
- Travel spend reporting
It’s definitely an exciting time to watch the business travel industry. A few years ago, it was an old, clunky, boring market, and now it is popping off with new solutions and new technology everyday.
Geeky insights into the travel management software market
Corporate travel management is one of the largest global markets that has yet to be fully disrupted in this digital world.
Just a couple of years ago, only medium-sized businesses and enterprises would have used travel management software. But with new disruptors in the market, small businesses are ditching consumer booking sites in favor of travel management software built for business use. Meanwhile, corporations that traditionally booked travel with agencies are moving towards in-house travel management, supported by robust but user-friendly software.
There’s a familiar story with many markets over the last couple of decades: new technology enters the space, new user expectations arise, and businesses either adapt or die.
This is exactly what’s happening in the business travel market. Only this time, the stakes are incredibly high. The expense management market size is estimated at somewhere around 2.5 billion USD.
Compare that with the corporate business travel market, which hit 1.3 trillion in 2016 and, while it was one of the most negatively affected sectors during the pandemic, it is expected to recover and reach US$829.5 billion by the year 2027. It makes sense when you think about it. With expense management, you’re buying a tool to help you track money, but with travel management, you’re actually choosing where your money will go. Who will get a piece of this massive pie?
Why the travel management software category is still growing
This massive market is ready for disruption. New technology developed in the last few years is making it possible to revolutionize business travel by offering companies a consumer-grade online booking experience and accessible pricing. Why call your corporate travel agent when you can book for yourself in a tool designed for businesses? Soon, everyone will be asking this question. In the next two to three years, the question won’t be “Should I use business travel management software?” it will be “Which one should I use?”
Here are the problems that travel management software can solve:
- Difficulty enforcing a company’s business travel program
- Lack of visibility into travel spend
- Time-consuming travel booking process
- Lack of hotel and flight options when making travel plans
SMBs: new adopters of travel management software
You might assume that the US$829.5 billion all of these players are going after is mainly spent by large corporations. While winning big accounts is certainly a great motivator for disruptors in this market, that’s not necessarily where the big money is.
Currently, there are hundreds of thousands of small to medium-sized businesses that are doing nothing when it comes to managing business travel. They’re not using software. They’re not using an agency. They’re doing everything the manual way and booking on tools built for consumers, thus sacrificing the ability to control and track business travel (which happens to be an enormous expenditure)
Part of the current opportunity comes in winning over the businesses that currently have no travel management solution. Opportunity also lies in businesses that have been dissatisfied with their corporate travel experience for years. Many enterprises have been saddled with high agency fees, commissions, and charges for poor-quality customer support calls
The travel management software category has changed rapidly in the past two years, and yet we’re still at the beginning of this huge wave of disruption.