Small business drivers going the extra mile

Despite air travel remaining the preferred travel mode for most Australian businesses, road travel is fast catching up with “road warriors” doing more kilometres than ever before. And small business drivers are driving an average of 500 miles further than their counterparts in larger organisations.

The analysis revealed that road warriors drove more than nine billion kilometres (5.65 billion miles) globally in 2017, which was an increase of 17 per cent compared with 2016. Australian road travel increased 30 per cent, which was well above the global average, and the number of kilometres reimbursed by the business jumped by 21 per cent.

On an average weekday, approximately 13 million travellers take to their cars for work purposes. On Wednesdays, however, this number peaks to around 14.2 million drivers around the world. September, October, and November are the busiest months for road warriors, which is likely due to the looming end-of-year break.

The most significant growth in mileage globally was among small business road warriors, which increased 22 per cent in Q4 2017 from 2016. Small business drivers claimed 30 per cent more miles and 26 per cent more mileage costs than their enterprise counterparts in 2017. Small business drivers also averaged 1943 miles per year as compared to enterprise who averaged 1483 miles.

Australia’s vast distances mean many business travellers choose to fly to their destinations. However, if business travellers are going beyond capital cities and regional hubs, then driving is often the only sensible choice. Unfortunately, the high cost of fuel in this country means that Australian businesses are paying the highest cost per mile at 80 US cents per mile, or AUD$1.08 for every 1.6 kilometres travelled. This is more than four times the cost of road travel in India, for example.

In Australia, the healthcare and financial industries have the highest average mileage cost. Globally, the healthcare industry drove 780 million kilometres in 2017; the equivalent of nearly 20,000 times around the Earth.

In the second quarter of 2016, Australia saw an increase of 45 per cent in business spend on mileage compared to the previous quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2016, Australia saw a drop both in terms of business kilometres travelled and spend reimbursed. Overall, drivers in Asia Pacific logged 3,145 kilometres annually.

To make road travel easier, here are four key tips:

  1. Save time and money on parking by using parking apps that let users compare rates and reserve spaces ahead of time. Some of these apps can sync directly to expense management systems, making receipt and expense management easier.
  2. Join rewards programs to get savings on fuel, hotels, and more. This can save the company money and result in upgrades or other personal benefits.
  3. Keep important contact information handy. In an unexpected situation, it’s advisable to have corporate booking tools and travel managers’ contact details stored in the traveller’s smartphone so they can quickly make arrangements if circumstances change or there is an incident such as a traffic accident.
  4. Plan ahead. Using mapping apps to identify road blocks, traffic snarls, and roadworks. Mapping routes, choosing where to refuel and eat, and knowing where to find reliable Wi-Fi can all contribute to a more effective business trip.

Road warriors need to maximise their productivity since they spend so much time driving. Apps and systems that make it easy for them to manage their expenditure can help them work more efficiency, save money, and have a positive experience while travelling. Cloud-based, mobile travel and expense management systems can be the answer for Australia’s road warriors as they continue to spend more time on the road.

Matt Goss, Managing Director ANZ, SAP Concur

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