Carry On: The cost of doing (travel) business

Taking the pain out of expense reports, and tips for making the most of your travels to local towns and far-flung cities

Credit: Courtesy of Traction on Demand

Traction on Demand founder Greg Malpass (left) with team members near Agra, India

Taking the pain out of expense reports, and tips for making the most of your travels to local towns and far-flung cities


“Buying the log-splitter” should join the business lexicon as a jump-the-shark-style buzzword for inflating expense reports, thanks to the provincial legislature fracas. Claims are a thorn in many sides: in a 2018 poll by U.S. travel and expense report management software firm Certify, 49 percent of more than 500 businesses surveyed said they still manually process their reports. CFOs, controllers and finance leads cited lost receipts, reconciling costs and calculation errors as the top pain points.

Examining some 50 million travel and expense records, the Certify survey found that meals (17 percent of claims) made up the biggest share, followed by taxis and other rides (15 percent), airfares (14 percent) and hotels (12 percent). Uber and Starbucks were the brands that showed up the most, and the survey found that food-delivery outfits like GrubHub are taking a bite out of room service.


• All-purpose apps like Expensify extract information from smartphone snaps of your receipts (free for light users or monthly plans from $5) and can track vehicle mileage that counts toward work expenses.

• If you only require a mileage tracker, the free Mile IQ app logs your road warrior work miles and produces CRA-compliant digital expense records.

• If even shooting your receipts seems like too much work, Shoeboxed offers plans with pre-paid envelopes to mail your random scraps of paper in and turn them into digitized reports.


Greg Malpass, founder and CEO of Traction on Demand, has recently tackled trips big and small.

As part of its Small Town Initiative, his leading Burnaby-based company, which helps clients implement Salesforce solutions, opened an office last year in Malpass’s hometown of Nelson. Rather than fly into the Kootenays, “I almost always drive,” he says, clocking it a couple of hours longer, door-to-door, than the full airport experience. “It gives me some solid personal thinking time.”

Malpass, who is committed to creating great local jobs, says, “Smaller communities are incredible. They are connected. People talk, so make sure you’re a part of that,” and be open to feedback. He also advises to buy local. “One big part of our Small Town Initiative is to spend our dollars where we can create the greatest impact.”

Traction on Demand also opened an office in Jaipur last year. Malpass’s first stop in mapping success in India was the international relations department at SFU, of which he’s a graduate. “SFU was awesome; they actually arranged a four-hour meeting with an incredibly diverse group, from local government to professors, to discuss things we should consider.”

For a leader who favours jeans and a hoodie, Malpass also has a great wardrobe tip: “Regardless of where I am going or who I’m going to see, I use LinkedIn or Google Images to see how the person I’m meeting dresses. And then I adapt a bit.” That kind of respect for others packs light and takes a businesses traveller far.


Approved and rejected, some of the oddest expenses tracked by Certify in the past five years (all figures in USD):

$150 for llama rental

$125 for Cher tickets

$30/day for snake boarding

$6,500 for a helicopter ride to a meeting

X $85 for a hotel room for garlic samples

$10,000 for hotel room repairs/missed flights while in jail