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Travel and Expense Management- an evolution



Back in 2015, Buzz Aldrin shared on Twitter his $33.31 travel expense claim form from 1969, for his journey from ‘Houston to the moon and back’.

Travel and Expense Management an evolution

The claim itself included itemised details of his trip on Apollo 11 and was completed for approval using a manually written expense form, a document and process some organisations still operate with today, some 48 years later.

Buzz TE

In recent years, Travel and Expense Management (TEM) solutions have come a long way since humans first landed on the moon back in the late 60`s.

Recent developments in internet based-communication and mobile technology have created faster, more efficient and simpler travel and expense tools to save businesses time on the workflow involved with manual expense claims.   

If we think about it, Travel and Expense Management has always played a part in managing expenses throughout the history of mankind, stretching back 9,000 years in fact, we`ve highlighted key landmarks in its evolutionary process:

  • 8700 BCE and 2000 BCE - During this period, mankind starts to appreciate the concept of “expense”. Humans begin to accept counting tokens or stones in lieu of goods as trade material. The only form of expense accounting back then was counting rocks, which sounds tiring and a lot of manual work.
  • 8th Century BC to the 6th Century – Abacus’s also called counting frames were calculating tools used in Europe, China and Russia. This creation aided the struggle of counting. This invention was state of the art for its period. Scribes recorded and counted transactions as quickly as their fingers could operate them.
  • 600AD - “Counting on one's hands”, the earliest reference to this method of using the hands to refer to the natural numbers was used in the early 600`s.  Perhaps, this expense method is best used in the modern day as a figure of speech.
  • 500th to 1000th AD. - Although coins were first developed hundreds of years earlier, it was the dark ages that the modern coin was first commonly used. Coins enabled practical methods of expense management as well as a system which included inventory counts and transaction records.
  • 1883 - Following the American Civil war, the first cash register was invented in 1879. A massive step forward to help account accurately and restructuring how businesses tracked expenses.
  • 1928-1950 - The Charge-Plate was developed in 1928 as an early version of the credit card. American Airlines and the Air Transport Association simplified the process with the advent of the Air Travel Card creating a numbering scheme that identified the issuer of the card as well as the customer account. The concept of customers paying different merchants using the same card was expanded in 1950 by Ralph Schneider and Frank McNamara, founders of Diners Club, to consolidate multiple cards. The Diners Club produced the first "general purpose" charge card and required the entire bill to be paid with each statement.
  • 1950`s - The invention of Radiofax cleared the way for further innovation, allowing expenses to be processed to another global location.
  • 1970`S – Early accounting software was developed in the seventies, allowing businesses to mechanically manage buying, invoice verification and stock. This development first saw the reliance on software to provide quicker methods of accounting than manual human processed work.
  • 1990-s – Computers now become used by most businesses, the development of software such as Microsoft Excel simplified repetitive responsibilities and complex mathematics.
  • 2000`s- Further technology we use today first came into the limelight. PDA`s were used for business, the first iPhone was released in 2007, steering in a new generation of smartphone acceptance by the millions.
  • Today – Travel and Expense Management solutions are the most widely adopted back office process technology across all business today. Many solutions are available that fit the needs of different businesses, this includes automated expense solutions available via mobile and desktop applications with receipt capture. Live credit card feeds are common direct into expense systems. Approval flows within the expense process aid in controlling authorisation with back up analytics capabilities to provide organisations with visibility to out of policy violations and further control of expense.

We would love to hear some of your memories of claiming travel expenses through the years, let us know your stories in the box below….

If your organisation currently operates a time-consuming manual expense process with no centralised process in place, please get in touch so we can find out more regarding your challenges and demonstrate how our travel and expense solutions can help you to streamline your current processes, delivering significant time and financial savings.

T: 0330 004 0520


Good Travel Management - How to automate travel and expense management

About Andrew Sison

Andy is our Strategic Account Manager and works with a number of high profile businesses to manage their business travel more effectively. Andy’s track record is enviable and he works hard to deliver savings, add value, help companies consolidate their travel programmes and manage change.
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