Supply chain 31 October 2017

Five clever ways to lower the cost of business travel

Airplane made of cinnamon in cappuccino, Passports and Europe map
There?s a fine line between prudence with travel expenses and keeping employees happy
Business travel is usually a necessity for companies of any size. Here, digital marketing agency Blue Glass?s Irma?Hunkeler finds five ways to reduce the cost of business travel for those at smaller ventures.

There?s no escaping the fact that the travel budget is often the greatest expense on a company?s list of monthly costs.

Indeed, over $1.3 trillion US dollars were spent on global business travel in 2016 alone, according to research from Statista.

However, there are ways to cut the cost of business travel for your small company quite significantly, and all it requires is some planning, research and resourcefulness.

(1) Incentivise

Part of the problem for business is that many employees don?t feel compelled to search for a reduced cost of business travel savings when they are on a work trip, especially seeing as it isn?t their own money they?re spending.

They would much rather travel in comfort than save on some money for which they know they?ll eventually be reimbursed.

Companies like Google have devised innovative business travel schemes, where employees are incentivised to save money, so that if they come back from their trip below budget, they are able to redeem travel credits to lower the future cost of business travel.

Some companies even allow employees to pocket half the remaining unspent expenses, which is a surefire way to encourage some frugality.

(2) Venture off the beaten track?

The majority of business travel involves visiting capitals or big cities, where the cost of business travel is usually far more expensive than anywhere else in the country.

While it?s true that organising trips to major airports are pretty straightforward, it?s always worth checking if you can find flights into smaller or mid-range airports on the outskirts of the city, as these are often cheaper.

Arranging accommodation in a smaller nearby city will help to greatly reduce the cost of business travel. So for example, if you?re travelling to Vienna, you could find somewhere to stay in the neighbouring town of Klosterneuburg, for a fraction of the price.

By opting to stay in an alternate town, you could save your business up to 47 per cent in travel costs.

(3) Reward schemes

If business travel is a frequent occurrence in your company, then you can be sure to take advantage of the reward schemes that exist in many hotel chains and airlines.

A great way to cut back on hotel expenses is to negotiate corporate deals with your preferred hotels and letting the management know that your employees will only use their chains on their travels.

Many airlines also offer corporate deals and discounts when you fly with them regularly, especially if you have multiple travellers. Airlines such as Air France and KLM BlueBiz give out credits to loyal customers, which can then be redeemed on free flights and seat upgrades.

(4) Adjust travel allowances accordingly

Depending on where your employees are travelling out to, you will want to adjust their daily travel allowances in accordance to the location.

Costs on transportation, food, tips and accommodation will vary depending on the city, so it?s important that your daily expenses limits reflect these differences.

Because of the disparity in local rates, employees sent to Las Vegas would generally be given roughly a third of the rates that would be given to those on a trip to New York, for example.

Researching the local rates of each city will determine how much your daily travel allowances should be, and help weigh up the cost of business travel.

(5) Pay attention to additional costs

Attention to each and every additional expense on a trip is vital in keeping the final cost of business travel down. Planning ahead will give you foresight into any potential charges that could come your way.

While last minute flights are often inescapable in business travel, if you have the opportunity to book well in advance then you will save a lot.

Despite the fact that flight tickets have decreased in recent years, many airlines are making their money through incremental fees for early boardings, luggage check-ins, seat upgrades and flight meals.

Similarly, you will want to look into the different rates for transport in each city, and select the most economical option. You should also consider if it?s worth paying for internet access in a hotel or if it?s cheaper for employees to tether their internet connection on their work phones.

There?s a fine line between being prudent with travel expenses and keeping your employees happy. You don?t want to have to compromise on saving money by cutting corners so strictly that your employees are severely inconvenienced, as this will create discord.

It?s entirely possible, with the right organisation and planning, to provide your workers with a sufficient level of comfort and convenience, while bringing the cost of business travel down at the same time.

Irma?Hunkeler works for?, a digital marketing agency. Her experience includes working for various clients in the travel industry.

Read more: How small businesses can make the most of a strong euro

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