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Using Price to Beat to Evaluate Employee Travel

Price to Beat can be managed on your Team or Corporate policy by admins via Admin > [Policy Name] > Travel. 

The choices set here will determine how we calculate the Price to Beat. The following booking preferences can be set for each booking type:

Hotel Reservations: 

  • Which star rating do you prefer your employees to book?

Car Rentals: 

  • What type of car should they book?

Flight Reservations

  • What flight class and max number of layovers should employees choose?

This feature can be enabled or disabled by any policy admin. We recommend that you also use Price to Beat with Rewards to incentivize employees to choose lower-price options when booking company travel.

What is "Rewards"?

Rewards incentivizes employees to choose lower-cost options when they book their travel. A reward is attributed to an expense if the total expense is less than the Price to Beat, then added to the same report as a reimbursable expense to be paid back to the employee. The Reward will be categorized according to the Payout Category selected in the Rewards section of the Travel settings in the policy editor. The reward amount is a percentage of this difference, which can be defined in the policy editor by the admin.

Using Rewards with Price to Beat

Rewards for employees will be evaluated against the admin’s Price to Beat preferences.

Once Rewards has been enabled, you can choose what percentage of the difference will be shared with the employee (this will appear in the form of a reimbursable expense on the same report as the travel expense). 

Our research has shown that employees are much more likely to choose lower-cost options when they share in the savings, so this is a great way to maximize the savings to your company, and improve employee engagement. The payout category defines the category of the Rewards expense that is created on the report. 

So, what does it look like when an employee submits an expense?

After making a travel reservation, employees should forward their hotel, flight and car receipts to for SmartScanning. Make sure reservations are forwarded within 24 hours of booking so that they are eligible for Rewards. When a receipt is submitted, it will be evaluated based on the settings in the policy editor’s Travel tab. Once placed on a report, there will be an “indicator” on the line item of that expense. 

These indicators will be one of four colors:

  • “Great!” This trip expense is less than the “price to beat.”
  • “Just Right.” This trip expense is the exact same as the “price to beat.”
  • “Not advised.” This trip expense cost more than the “price to beat.”
  • “Stumped!” This error occurs when one of the following takes place: Either the user edited the amount of the expense, there are no viable alternatives, or the user booked the reservation and then waited more than 24 hours to forward the receipt to Expensify.

Below is an an example of a Blue indicator, or “Just Right.” This booking matches the “price to beat.” It will not result in a Reward for your employee.

Below is an example of a Yellow indicator, or “not advised”. This price is below the “Price to Beat” and will not result in a Reward.

Below is an example of when the indicator is gray, or Stumped. In this case, there is no evaluated reward and no reimbursable expense is created.

Please note that employees have 24 hours within booking travel to submit their receipt in order to be eligible for rewards. In addition, Reward expenses cannot be edited and the value of a given Reward expense is the sum of all the rewards earned for travel expenses on a report. A manager can choose to ignore a reward; in this case, the evaluation still exists but the reward is not added to the Reward expense.

Rejecting a Reward

If an admin does not want to honor a specific reward, he or she will be able to reject the reward by choosing the "Ignore" option on the report.

“Ignoring” a reward can also be reverted. In the case that a reward needs to be paid to the employee and has accidentally been ignored or the manager has changed his/her mind, the admin should select “Restore.”

Once an employee is expected to receive reimbursement, they will be reminded of this reward in their reimbursement email!

If an employee submits a report outside of the 24 hour window, an email will be sent to let them know that they earned a reward but didn't submit the receipt in time to be paid:

Payroll and Tax Tracking for Rewards

Rewards that employees earn will need to be treated as a taxable benefit - similar to reimbursed gym memberships. To account for this, Expensify allows you to export benefit items into your payroll software. This can be done whether you are paying the expenses through payroll or reimbursing directly through Expensify. 

If you’re reimbursing through Expensify, a paper entry will be created to account for the reward. This will ensure that the rewards are treated correctly for tax purposes and added to the employee’s W-2’s as needed. Visit our custom export page to learn more about how to export to your payroll software.

Price to Beat FAQ

  1. Do expenses need to be added to a report within 24 hours in order to qualify for a reward? No, but the receipt needs to be in the employee's account within 24 hours. It then will need to be placed on a report in order for the policy's Price to Beat settings to analyze the expenses.
  2. How are the rewards accounted for and how do they show up? These rewards will be shown as separate line item reimbursable expense apart from the travel expense itself as a % of the amount that the employee saved. If the average price for a given flight is $400 and the employee books one for $300, the admin has agreed to Reward back 10% of the amount saved, then the employee will have a $10 reimbursable expense added to the report.
  3. How are the Rewards categorized? Rewards will be categorized based off the category selected in the Travel section of the policy editor.
  4. Does the receipt need to be SmartScanned? Yes, or forwarded to which will also SmartScan the receipt.
  5. How is the flight analyzed? It will be compared with the cost of similar flights on that same day (alongside the Travel criteria selected in the policy).
  6. I don’t want to give my employees Rewards. Can we just use the Price to Beat tool to evaluate employee travel booking choices? Yep! Just turn on the Price to Beat evaluation tool, but leave Rewards disabled. This way, you will be able to track the travel as an admin, and you will also be able to see the colored indicators on employees' reports to see where they are making good or unadvisable decisions with travel booking. If you want to begin rewarding employees, simply turn on the Rewards function in addition at any time.
  7. Who can see the colored indicators? Both the employee, admin, and approver will be able to see the indicators on a report.
  8. Does this work with AirBnB? Unfortunately, not at this time.

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