Travel Entertainment Spend Analysis Best Practices

Guidelines for analyzing and managing spending on travel and entertainment for optimal efficiency and savings.

Travel Entertainment Spend Analysis Best Practices

T&E is probably your company’s second-largest discretionary expense, representing on average as much as 6% of all corporate expenses. As that percentage continues to grow in today’s emerging markets-focused business environments, it’s important to make every budget dollar count.

One proven, easy to implement strategy is to leverage business data analysis technology to collectively evaluate and routinely examine the details of spend analysis data and deliver insights that uncover patterns in behavior and deliver specific recommendations to directly and immediately improve your travel programs.

However, what specifically can travel and expense managers do on a regular basis to gain powerful insights from their spend analysis data?

A typical organization should always analyze its travel and entertainment spend to understand what, where, and how employees are spending money. Whether the money spent on customers are generating enough revenues to sustain that kind of spending.

In addition, the organization should try to maximize spend analysis by collecting data from other important sources such as employee data, travel agency data, sales data, P-card data, and AP data. By looking at a consolidated view on a spend dashboard, it is possible to uncover a lot of other exceptions or trends which otherwise would not be possible.


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Some of the key KPIs organizations measures when it comes to analyzing T&E spend data are:

  1. T&E Fraud and Misuse – travelers abusing the policy.

Detect single occurrence or patterns of suspicious spending at inappropriate venues and retail locations such as spas, liquor stores, jewelry stores, and more.

  • Detect suspicious purchases.
  • Identify both one-time and chronic offenders.
  • Identify purchases with high-risk keywords.
  • Review high-risk employees’ transactions.
  • Review inappropriate spending in designated categories based on merchant category codes (MCC) and merchants.
  1. T&E Duplicate Submissions.

Identify duplicate submissions of out of pocket and/or card purchases by one or more travelers.

  • Spot individual duplicate recovery opportunities.
  • Spot duplicates across expense report over time.
  • Identify employees who frequently submit duplicate expenses.
  • Learn which of your expense report categories are at high risk for duplicate submissions.
  1. T&E Out of pocket spends policy.

Detect outliers or patterns of excessive pocket spend for expense types generally associated with corporate card purchases. Highlight employee behavior associated with circumvention of receipt limit policies related to out of pocket spend.

  • Detect suspicious out of pocket activity.
  • Identify both one-time and chronic offenders.
  • Visibility into expense types related to suspicious out of pocket submissions.
  • Detect unusual meal expenses per attendee by the city.
  • Identify outlier lodging expenses by city and time of year.
  1. T&E Anti-bribery or corruption risk.

Identify transactions that are high risk due to the type of transaction, attendee(s) involved, and/or the country where the transaction occurs.

  • High-risk transactions (facilitation fee, consulting fee, etc.).
  • High-risk attendee (government officials, agents, consultants, facilitators).
  • High-risk countries (Transparency International).
  1. T&E Credit recovery opportunities.

Spot credits that have not been reported on an expense report but corresponding debits have been reported and reimbursed to the employee.

  • Find individual credit recovery opportunities.
  • Identify employees who don’t return due credit.
  • Detect merchants associated with frequent credit transactions.
  1. Credit card recovery opportunities.

Identify duplicate submissions for a purchase card transaction that was also submitted as an out of pocket charge in your T&E system.

  • Spot individual duplicate recovery opportunities.
  • Identify employees who frequently submit duplicate expenses.
  • Learn which of your spending categories are at high risk for duplicate submissions.
  1. T&E spend travel agency risk.

 Identify travels and travel routes that are not approved or hotels that are not part of the pre-negotiated contracts. Check for travel booking information to see if employees are booking travel in the stipulated advance period or unused travel tickets are being refunded or re-used.

  • Spot travel booking patterns across most frequented destinations.
  • Spot travel violators who always book travel at the last minute thus leading to higher costs.
  • Spot travelers who travel above their pay grade – first or business class.
  • Find out the typical cost of tickets or hotel room rates for top destinations and compare it to how it changes based on the time of the booking.
  1. T&E spend GL reconciliation and completeness risk.

Detect inconsistencies in covered transactions between T&E systems, travel agency systems, CRM, and general ledger.

  • Detect potentially reportable transactions in T&E systems that do not exist in the travel agency system and vice versa.
  • Detect potentially reportable transactions in T&E systems that do not exist in the general ledger and vice versa. This can mean transactions may have been classified in the wrong department/business unit or cost centers.
  • Detect potentially reportable transactions in the T&E system that does not exist in the CRM system and vice versa.
  • Detect unusual and unexpected changes in volumes and values of reportable transactions.
  • Detect source systems that produce no reportable transactions.
  1. T&E spend potential fraud risk by linking it to an unknown customer account

Detect discrepancies between data in your CRM systems, T&E, and Travel Agency system.

  • Detect potentially reportable transactions in source systems that have discrepancies (date, dollar value, etc.) compared to the transactions in the other systems.
  • Identify T&E system transactions that are missing key data elements.
  1. T&E spend cycle time exceptions.
  • Delay in submitting reports and receipts.
  • Expense reports paid even after the reports were files past the final submission deadlines (Say 60 days or 90 days post-travel).
  • Delay in approving the report.
  • Delay in payment.
  • Avg. cycle times for:

 Submission, approval, and payment.

Payment mechanism – Credit card, check, cash.

  • Worst offenders in terms of delay in submission, approval, or payment.
  • Other exceptions:

T&E reports approved by the same employee.

Whether the travel expense report was submitted by the senior-most employee present as attendee mentioned in the report.


  1. Alerts:
  •  Email and on-screen alerts to the HR manager or T&E procurement manager.

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