For many organizations, travel is a vital part of getting the job done. Businesses use travel to source product or make sales, train or incentivize staff, and network with industry peers. But no matter how essential the trip is, uncontrolled business travel costs can outweigh all the benefits gained. Controlling costs is a fundamental necessity, so we have outlined seven useful tips that you can use.
Best Money-Saving Business Travel Tactics
Develop and Enforce a Travel Policy – The number one way to control costs is to set guidelines and encourage compliance. A travel policy should define where employees book travel, the trip approval process, and guidance on flight selection and cabin class. Each organization needs to find its own balance of rigidity and flexibility to keep travelers happy, based on the company culture.
Implement an Online Booking Tool – An online tool such as Concur (add blog link) allows travelers to make their own secure airline, hotel and car rental reservations 24/7 from any internet connection. The company-specific booking site has the individual’s corporate travel policy and discounts embedded, so users follow the rules and achieve savings, yet the traveler has a high level of autonomy.
Purchase in Advance – Planning ahead is generally a good tactic; however, it can be a double-edged sword. Many times advance purchase airfares are lower than last minute purchases, with the sweet spot currently 14-21 days out, but they often carry heavy penalties and restrictions for changes. Airfare rules change frequently, so there are no hard and fast rules for advance purchase.
Use Basic Economy Fares – For those seeking the lowest possible price on airline tickets, a new offering from Delta, United, and American is the Basic Economy Fare. The tradeoff for the savings is fewer options: no advance seat assignments, no carry-on bags, no refunds, changes or upgrades.
Negotiate Discounts with Frequently Used Suppliers – An organization should know how much business they are sending to a particular supplier. For our clients’ benefit, Covington Travel provides management reports detailing this information. Consolidate usage where it makes sense and approach the airline, hotel company or car vendor to negotiate a discount based on your volume.
Join Corporate Reward Programs – Many travel suppliers offer corporate reward programs that earn points for every dollar spent. Companies redeem points for added value such as upgrades or lounge access, saving up to 5% of the business travel cost. The programs usually have a very low or no minimum requirement; however, the caveat is that someone in the company must take charge of administering the program and points redemption on behalf of the organization.
Offer Incentives for Employees to Save Money – In today’s digital world, gamify it and they will play, so savvy companies use the same psychology to reward travelers when they save money. The incentive can be as simple as recognition among peers, a monetary share of the savings or additional days off, depending on the company’s culture and budget.
Over and above these seven money-saving tactics, the best strategy for controlling business travel expenses is to utilize the many resources of a professional Travel Management Company.
To discuss more ways your organization can save money on business travel, contact Covington Travel Account Services.