5 Ways to Lower Corporate Travel Expenses Without Sacrificing Trip Quality
Business travel makes up a sizable portion of the travel industry in the US, contributing 282.6 billion USD to the GDP in 2015. This is 28.4% of the entire overall contribution from travel and tourism. Corporate travel costs really add up, but there are things that you can do to cut down the amount that your business spends on travel.
While managing your travel expenses can be a very effective way to cut your company’s costs, you don’t want to take it too far. No employee wants to have to share a room with a co-worker, or take a flight with a long connecting layover. When corporations are too frugal, employees end up having a much more stressful travel experience. This can impact morale and productivity. That is why it’s important to achieve a balance between trip quality and cost. Are there ways that you can cut down business travel costs without making trips a miserable experience and killing morale?
Here are 5 ways that you can lower your corporate travel expenses without sacrificing trip quality.
1. Use a Professional Corporate Travel Agent
Travel agents are one of the best resources you can use to find the cheapest travel deals with the least hassle. They will also be there for you when something goes wrong, such as your flight is delayed or the hotel is overbooked.
Travel agents tend to have ties with hotels and airlines and other travel providers, so that they can often negotiate a better rate when they are coordinating corporate travel. A corporate travel agent also makes it much easier to take a large group of employees to an event, as they can help you to achieve a seamless and smooth experience. Your travel agent may even be able to negotiate for special extras and amenities, such as free breakfasts, parking, room upgrades and more.
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2. Try a Different Airport
Sometimes you can find a significantly cheaper flight just by looking at a slightly “less obvious” airport. For example, rather than searching for flights from Chicago O’Hare you can look at Midway airport. Flights from there might be cheaper.
Or, if you are flying out of the Boston area, you might be able to save money by flying out of Manchester, N.H. instead. Long Beach Airport and Burbank Airport are both within 20 miles of LAX and might even be closer to your destination depending on where in LA you are traveling to. The point is, sometimes a secondary airport is cheaper and more convenient.
Just keep in mind that if you are opting for a secondary airport, you will likely have to factor in the cost of rental car, taxi or transportation between that airport and the desired city. You’ll need to weigh your options when considering the extra time spent and the dollars that you save.
3. Book in Advance
It might seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many times this piece of travel advice is ignored. Although last minute travel can be unavoidable in business, if you have the chance to schedule a trip far in advance it can result in huge savings.
According to a study by Concur, booking a flight at least 8 days in advance resulted in a savings of $148 on average per ticket. It can be a good strategy to look through your calendar at the beginning of the year to see where you might be able to plan ahead and save money by booking early on rental cars, hotels and airfare.
4. Use Rewards Programs
Most hotel chains and airlines have rewards programs for their frequent customers, which can add up to free flights or hotel stays. Sometimes being a member of these rewards programs also brings travel perks like free checked baggage, room upgrades or access to an airport lounge with free WiFi. It can be a great way to make your traveling employees feel like VIPs when they are on the road!
This might be difficult for large companies to take advantage of, but smaller companies could incorporate these rewards into their corporate travel expenses quite well. If you don’t want to limit yourself to only one hotel chain or airline, you can also look into using credit cards that offer reward miles or points regardless of which hotel or airline you choose.
5. Have Business Lunches, Not Dinners
One of the biggest business travel expenses can be the cost of taking clients out for dinner so that you can wine them, dine them and close that business deal. Many a lucrative partnership has been formed over a delicious meal and some alcoholic beverages. Dining with your clients can help them to see you in a different light and build trust in a tough business climate.
However, if you switch it to a business lunch instead, you can experience significant savings. The lunch menu at most restaurants is often much cheaper and there may even be an afternoon Happy Hour to cut down on costs even more.
Plus, this means that business travelers are free in the evenings to rest or spend time with family if they have brought companions along on the trip.
These are just a few of the ways that businesses can lower their corporate travel expenses without impacting trip quality in a negative way. With a little bit of planning and strategic thinking, you can arrange business travel that is comfortable and convenient, yet doesn’t go over budget.
How does your company keep travel expenses low? Let us know your strategies in the comments below.
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