Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

source: http://orlandomap.info/base-tendriling-travel-expenses



Source by Armansah HS

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Online Gaming

More and more people are addicted to playing online games. With plenty of new and exciting games to choose from, people of all ages are now looking into great online games. Today, there are online gift cards you can purchase to buy the games you want to play. These cards can even be used to buy your favourite songs, movies, and TV shows. Experts shared some of the pros and cons of online gaming.

Advantages

You can try it before buying – Online gaming systems offer demos made for gamers so they can try playing that possible purchase as well as decide how much they would want prior to investing. Moreover, you can also buy games right then and there, without the need to rush out to the store.

Access to exclusive content – This one of the best reasons for choosing to play online games. You get to have access to the exclusive content for whatever it is that you are playing.

Communicate with other people – Online gaming will allow people to interact while playing, assisting people to maintain great relationships by communicating with family and friends all around the world. Certainly, this will be very helpful for gamers. Team building skills will be reinforced. Also, more tactical and strategic elements will be added to game-play. In turn, this can help increase your memory as well as develop lateral thinking.

Competitive – It allows you to compare your playing against different players. There will certainly be a feel good factor in knowing that you are a far better player than somebody else. Being aware that you are not against artificial intelligence will install more competitiveness. And since you are not always going to be the best, you will learn how to display good showmanship.

Disadvantages

System updates – If you are about to download the game you want or perhaps play online, there will be a time when a system update suddenly pops up and delay your game-time. You need to wait for it and then reboot.

Server issues or glitches – Glitches are viruses in game causing it to run irregularly. This is actually an issue with all game types; however, they are more common to online games. You may experience a series of server difficulties that are very frustrating for gamers.

Piracy – There has been incidences of breaching copyright laws, scandal, and letting users to pirate games illegally. And these situations have presented a big problem for the world of online gaming. In fact, the scandal caused plenty of controversies so there are some games that were shut down.

When playing online games, consider knowing some of the pros and cons involved in it. And if you have finally decided to engage into it, know that there are affordable gift cards you can buy so you can purchase the games you want. More about online cards here.



Source by Sophie L Brandon

Automotive Repair Marketing – The Key to a Successful Shop

If you are a business owner and you would like to increase your revenue, it is important for you to understand automotive repair marketing and how this is a key to a successful shop. The automotive industry is said to be one of the most lucrative and stable industries in the business world. Because people from all over the world use autos in their daily life, auto repair businesses are steady and secure.

Automotive repair marketing is as easy as changing the oil in your car. Every few months, you are to check your progress, do some maintenance, and give some added boost and fresh ideas to your automotive repair marketing campaign. The public loves fresh ideas.

Automotive repair marketing is all about taking action. Therefore, you as the business owner should make sure you use the right automotive repair marketing tools. Here are some of the most effective marketing tools for your auto repair business.

1. Direct mail marketing method

One of the most preferred automotive repair marketing tools remains to be the direct mail method. Most auto repair businesses make use of this method by mailing postcards to homeowners in zip codes surrounding their shops. This is an easy way to promote your services to potential clients. However, you will need to mail sufficient quantities to generate a worthwhile response.

2. Start a blog or a website

The internet is probably one of the greatest automotive repair marketing tools you can use. Create a blog and spend 10 minutes each day writing interesting anecdotes, maintenance information, tips, advice, or even car reviews. The more you write, the sooner you will be crawled by search engines, and the sooner you will reach a bigger audience which will essentially result in more business.

3. Social media marketing

One of the best automotive repair marketing tools revolves around social media. Websites with Facebook and Twitter integration are becoming increasingly popular and more repair shop owners are making use of this tool in order to promote their shops and acquire new clients. If you use social media for your automotive repair marketing, you should know that you are instantly exposed to millions of people. So, guess what happens when Jason needs a new transmission and he sees your business profile on Facebook? Voila! You have a new customer. Even though this may sound a little impossible, but social media could be well worth thousands of dollars to your repair shop.

4. The good old word of mouth

This method of automotive marketing is known to be one of the oldest methods of marketing in the business world. However, this is also proven to be one of the most reliable forms of marketing. For example, you started your automotive repair marketing campaign with the direct mail marketing method. Now, because of this, you have just acquired two new clients. If you do a good job, guess what happens? These clients will tell their friends about it, and their friends will tell their friends, eventually forming the perfect marketing campaign you can ask for.

5. Press releases

Most business owners tend to give press releases a complete miss, thinking that there is no possible way that a press release could be of any advantage to their automotive repair marketing campaign. Wrong! In fact, press releases are very effective and can be done either online or off-line. With the off-line method, simply write, or have someone put together a press release on a timely topic and send it to your local newspaper. With the online method, do the same and publish it to a press release service. Press releases are usually ranked higher than normal web pages and blog posts. This can never be a bad thing.

There are several other automotive repair marketing tools available to you. If you are serious about taking your auto repair shop to the next level and getting more vehicles into your shop, then make sure you give these aforementioned methods of automotive repair marketing a try today.



Source by David A Dickson

7 Scenarios Wherein a Car Insurance Claim Might Get Rejected

Car insurance is a mandatory investment as the law. Therefore, a large number of car owners opt to pay a premium for a car insurance policy to safeguard their cars against a possible collision. However despite this, a majority of their claims are rejected by companies. This is because people are unaware or rather ignorant to the intricacies related to car insurance. Therefore, a major chunk of car insurance claims are rejected. To stop this from happening, let’s go through a list of reasons where a car insurance claim might get rejected:

1. Intimating your insurer late or not at all: Please be informed that your claim is destined to be rejected if you fail to inform your insurance provider in the stipulated timeframe. On an average, you should update your insurance company within 48 to 72 hours from the time of accident or collision.

2. Driving under the influence of alcohol or any other drug: This one is a no-brainer but still most people are negligent about it. If you are driving when you have consumed alcohol not only are you breaking the law, but even your insurance company will refuse to cover in case of an accident.

3. If your car is being used for commercial purposes: If you have a private car and it is being used for any commercial use such as being used to carry goods or passengers than your car insurance provider can reject your claim. This is because there are different policies for Private car and commercial vehicle policies.

4. If you drive without a valid license: In case you or anyone driving your car is driving valid license and face an accident then your coverage becomes null and void. Therefore, ensure you renew your license on time.

5. Starting the repairs before inspection by insurer: When you intimate your insurer about the collision or accident, a surveyor will visit you to inspect the condition of the car and authenticate your claim. Without this inspection, the insurance company will be unable to trace the degree of the repairs and estimate the cost involved. Therefore, your claim is bound to be rejected.

6. Failing to transfer the policy from the previous owner: There is going to be some verification during the claim process. In case, the car insurance policy is not in your name then your insurer has the right to refuse your claim.

7. An Electrical or Mechanical Breakdown: In case your car is damaged without any external collision due to some electrical or mechanical breakdown then you are not covered by your car insurance policy. In this case, you will have to shell out some money from your own pocket.

Next time be more careful of all these reasons and ensure you make maximum utilization of your car insurance policy.



Source by Pranavi Jain

Equipment Finance: Blind Date or Running for Office?

Applying for equipment financing or a working capital loan should not like going on a blind date where you only tell the other person the best things about yourself and omit the not so stellar parts. The analogy for the application process should be more like running for public office where everything hidden in those closets comes out. It makes sense to lay all your cards on the table because a late discovery of a tax lien or default, even if it was many years ago, can crush your chances for approval. It can also diminish your chances of working with that finance agent again.

So that you do not waste your time and your lender's time, disclose everything negative right at the sunset when applying for business financing. Include explanations with details for those events when possible; a medical issue or key customer moving away can be valid reasons for a financial dip in your business and can sometimes be in getting an approval. If you have documentation; letters, statements, etc. to support your explanations then that will strengthen your chances for making a clear case for the negative things that occurred. At least it will show effort and build up the "character" portion of your request which many applicants underestimate. Remember, this is a people business and perception still adds to the equation.

In the cases where the negatives are so significant they can not be worked through, it is best to know sooner than later to save you time and effort so that plan "B" can be initiated. There is always a plan "B" … that includes using higher risk lenders which specialize in approving clients with mild to different credit issues. If an offer from a higher risk lender is not acceptable, you still have the choice of turning it down without any expense from your part other than time and effort.

In business, like in most other parts of life, the goal is to get a positive exit done quickly and efficiently. The sooner you know if your equipment acquisition or expansion can be approved, the faster you can move on to other strategies for your business success. We know the pain point for many companies is going through the paperwork process which for the most part can not be avoided but if you share the issues you've had in the past, many finance agents can preview your profile without pulling credit or requiring a complete financial package prior to having a good idea if you can be approved or not. That way if you do have to go through the paper shuffle you will know it's headed towards a kindly approval.



Source by Lester Salvatierra