12 Tips from the Pros for Making Business Travel More Affordable

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There’s only one direction for business travel costs at the moment: up. That’s according to the Global Business Travel Forecast 2023, which predicts that airfares will rise 48.5 per cent in the remaining months of 2022 and 8.5 per cent next year. Hotel prices are also expected to increase by 18.5 per cent this year and 8.2 per cent in 2023.

However, for companies concerned about the costs associated with travel and lodging, there are ways to reduce business travel expenses without sacrificing comfort or reliability.

Follow these tips from the pros:

  1. Enforce your travel policy (or create one quickly!)

With a travel policy in place, companies can ensure that their employees follow best practices and use company resources wisely. But what good is a policy if no one follows it? A travel management company (TMC) can help you create a policy but also enforce it because your travellers can only book with approved service providers.

“A travel policy isn’t something that needs to be imposed on your team. Ask your employees for their ideas on how to save on business travel expenses. You’ll be surprised at the creative, cost-saving solutions they come up with,” says Bonnie Smith, GM Corporate Traveller. “A great policy is one that is customised, taking into account the unique needs of both your company and travellers.”

  1. Get access to the best deals

If you want to save on travel costs, one of the best things you can do is get access to a better flight inventory. A TMC provides a streamlined way to book corporate fares by integrating hundreds of travel networks, helping you find the best deals without spending hours researching online.

  1. Book tickets in advance

A travel policy can help you determine not only the price but also the flexibility of tickets. Encourage your employees to plan trips at least 15-20 days in advance. While last-minute travel may be necessary, they can ensure the trip is well-planned (and necessary, too) before booking anything.

  1. …but also encourage flexibility

Do they really need to leave on a Monday? Mid-week flights tend to be cheaper. When booking, ask your travellers for options on arrival and departure times. This leeway can give you significant savings on flights and hotels. Even better, allow your employees to book their travel through a corporate booking tool to optimise their schedules and save money.

  1. Schedule meetings outside of peak holiday season

You can cut costs without sacrificing quality by being strategic about scheduling your events. Talk to your teams or event organisers to plan events and sales trips during the off-peak season to avoid expensive peak holiday times.

  1. Work with prices, not stars

Remember that a 3-star hotel can cost just as much as a 4-star hotel. Regarding hotels, be clear about the maximum amount your employees can spend in your travel policy.

  1. Ask your provider for value adds

It is worth committing to a single hotel chain so you can negotiate a lower price and take advantage of additional benefits. A large TMC usually has access to great negotiated rates with major airlines and hoteliers, so it’s worth checking out what they have to offer. “From free upgrades to early check-in and complimentary breakfast, TMCs are often able to negotiate quite a bit on your behalf,” says Smith.

  1. Put self-catering options into the mix

For longer hotel stays, offer your team the option of booking a room with a kitchenette. This way, travellers can sometimes prepare (healthier) meals themselves or heat ready-made meals.

  1. Encourage your employees to share

We don’t mean rooms; we mean cars! It’s often more economical and environmentally friendly to carpool. Talk to your team about the benefits of carpooling instead of booking their own cars or taxis.

  1. Set a realistic daily allowance

Budgeting for a business trip can be tricky. There are many incidentals to consider, from meals to Wi-Fi charges to luggage fees. It’s easy to underestimate something that can add up quickly. That’s why accessing data from a travel booking tool is helpful. That way, you can determine which cities and trips require a lower budget and which warrant more spending. “Per diems can be a tricky,” says Smith. “You don’t want to break the bank, but you don’t want your travellers to feel hard done by either. Ask your travel expert to calculate appropriate per diems for both the destination and the nature of the trip.”

  1. Eliminate foreign transaction fees

You can offset the high costs associated with international transactions by using credit cards and bank accounts that do not incur foreign transaction fees. Researching partner banks before travelling can help you avoid expensive ATM fees.

  1. Outsource your travel bookings

Do you know who in your company is travelling and how much it’s costing you? If your executives and sales team are booking their travel, then the time spent on travel management alone costs you money. Let an expert TMC handle the travel so your team can focus on what they do best.