When it comes to traveling or even knowledge of that industry, no one has ever confused me with legendary travel writer Arthur Frommer.
My pedigree is, for lack of a better description, non-existent. My experience consists primarily of hitting an endless sequence of telephone prompts to get an agent at my company’s travel office, or watching admiringly as my wife books our summer vacation on Expedia.
At airports, I get nervous if I’m directed to use those new e-check-in terminals. I prefer talking to a live ticket agent, even on those occasions when he or she can’t seem to find me an aisle seat on a plane the size of Cleveland.
In other words, I’m what you would call an “un-worldly” traveler.
Which is why it came as sort of a mild shock when I was asked to participate in a panel at a recent travel exposition held in New York to discuss the implications of Sarbanes-Oxley on the travel industry.
Did I say shock?
Actually, you could have knocked me over with an e-ticket.
Now I used to consider myself a reasonably bright person — I’m confident there are those that would tell you otherwise — but try as I might I couldn’t fashion a linear connection between SOX and frequent flyer miles.
Had the conference organizers asked me to speak about its effect on the Big Four’s business model or recite Sections 302 and 404, I could have delivered something resembling a Senate filibuster in length.
But the travel industry?
But I relented, hoping the session would be sparsely attended so as to limit the number of spectators watching the accounting editor stumble around like a sailor on payday.
Yet, believe it or not, there are connections between the act and at least the business management of travel, if not travel itself.
Since SOX reaches all areas that impact a company’s financials, travel certainly would fall under that auspices.
As an example, Section 402 of the act deals with travel practices that could be construed as personal loans to company executives — which are prohibited under SOX.
The aforementioned Sections 302 and 404, which focus on certifying internal controls and procedures, certainly would carry over to a company’s T&E — which generally is a company’s second or third highest controllable expense.
Under SOX, companies are required to declare personal use of company assets to their shareholders, and I learned that travel figures into a large part of that equation, i.e. company-owned planes, corporate cards and even airline ticketing.
Even though the session was just one hour, it hit me afterward that in less than two years, SOX has wended its way into areas that most people — including me — could never have imagined.
I may never look at my company credit card the same way.
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