UK FIRMS' TRAVEL BILL TOO HIGH, STUDY SAYS

UK FIRMS' TRAVEL BILL TOO HIGH, STUDY SAYS

Bad management is adding 2 billion ($3.3 billion) a year to British firms' travel and entertainment bills, according to the latest survey of Britain's spending habits conducted by American Express.

Since 1985, British companies' combined travel and entertainment bill has jumped 25 percent, to 22 billion, according to the report, which was released late last week.Travel and entertainment now cost this country's businesses more than their combined advertising, property tax and corporation tax bills, and account for up to 10 percent of their cost base.

What's more, Britain's travel and entertainment bill looks likely to climb even higher after 1992, when the European Community's creation of a unified market is expected to trigger yet more corporate travel.

British firms could trim their travel and entertainment bills by an

average 10 percent a year simply through more professional management, the report estimated.

Apparently, just 57 percent of British firms have a written travel and entertainment policy, while 68 percent leave travel arrangements entirely in the hands of untrained secretaries and personal assistants.

British companies are starting to take their travel spending more seriously, the report said, but still aren't exercising sufficient controls.

"Cutting travel costs does not mean cutting down on travel - just managing it better," said John Petersen, AmEx's vice president and general manager of travel management services. "Firms rarely leave other parts of their business to chance, so why treat travel that way? What we are talking about here is fundamental cost control in an area that has now become a major outgoing for a significant proportion of British businesses."