Your company is likely one of the 35% of American businesses that engage in corporate travel. You may also be one of those trying to save more money on travel expenses because of it.
Budgeting for travel, especially on business, is a challenging feat. On average, business trips cost around $949 in travel fees. That’s quite a hefty amount, even for the big players in the corporate world.
Despite the prominence of video conferencing, corporate travel is something you can’t always avoid. Sometimes, you must physically be at a specific location to oversee procedures or meet with clients. However, staying within budget and paying less for smooth, successful business trips is still possible. Here’s how to do it.
6 Money-Saving Tips for Corporate Trips:
#1 Establish A Corporate Travel Policy
All trips, whether for business or leisure, require a large amount of money. Your company’s finance department may be able to plan and set aside an annual budget for travel expenses. But without an air-tight corporate travel policy, you and your team risk spending more than you should.
For starters, consider using a platform that streamlines all travel expenses made, such as TravelBank. You could use it to keep track of all purchases paid with any synced card used during business travels. That way, it’s easier to see if you’re staying within or exceeding the planned budget.
Then, you should list the fundamentals. This includes approval processes and booking guidelines. Having a clear and understandable policy helps your team take caution in their travel decisions. As a result, you may save more by simply following what’s written on the policy. But just because it’s ‘set in stone’ doesn’t mean there’s no space for leeway. It should be flexible enough to adapt to your company’s needs and the ever-changing travel rates.
#2 Cut Costs Within Reason
Even with a corporate travel policy in place, you and your team may splurge on things here and there. It may be inevitable in some situations, especially in emergencies. But for travel essentials, like food, transportation, and accommodation, it’s better to stick to your budget to save money.
Not all expensive hotels offer everything you need upon initial payment. Many require additional fees for other amenities like Wi-Fi and breakfast on top of the room rate. However, that isn’t to say that you should settle for the cheapest room in the city. It’s great to book a more affordable hotel if the basics are included in the package or don’t have exorbitant fees.
Avoid scrimping heavily on essential travel expenses. You’re traveling for work, but you still need restful sleep in a secure place and filling food. Thus, you must be as comfortable as possible to focus on your job.
#3 Book Flights And Accommodations In Advance
As you know, business class trips are more expensive than economy seats. Last-minute plane tickets often cost more than if you booked them in advance. Airline companies take advantage of this fact—they know that corporate travelers will pay for a seat no matter the price and time. That explains why ticket prices shoot up when people buy them at the last minute.
Consider booking all corporate travels and accommodations in advance to avoid being the target of eleventh-hour plane tickets. Flights and hotel rooms are also much cheaper when you book them off-season. At best, the ideal time to book them is 21 to 115 days before the scheduled trip.
Additionally, refrain from relying on one booking website. Canvass different travel portals, including the airline’s official website and other flight booking websites, then compare airfares. You may also use a VPN to find good deals with the necessary amenities. Doing so will help you save money on corporate travel and simultaneously protect your company’s vital information.
#4 Practice Flexibility
Whether traveling for business or leisure, it always pays to be flexible. You can start with the booking process. With thorough research, you could find more affordable plane tickets to places near your intended location. Some flights to neighboring towns of capital cities may have cheaper tickets, especially in other countries. You’ll need to take a train or bus to arrive at your actual destination when you land. But if that means saving more, why not take the risk?
There are times when you can’t avoid emergencies and sudden cancellations. Hence, it’s best to sift through several travel sites for several deals instead of just one. Look for ones that have little to no cancellation fees. They might even refund you a significant percentage of your payment if you cancel a trip.
#5 Schedule Meetings At The Right Time
If your company frequently experiences flight cancellations, you will end up wasting money. Some canceled events are beyond your control. But you can take charge of a few instances, such as meeting schedules.
Timing is everything, as they say. You could save significantly if you can schedule important, out-of-town meetings during off-season months. Traveling during holidays often encourages people to spend more. By avoiding peak seasons, you and your team could spend less on plane tickets and hotel accommodations.
Also, take note of special holidays in the place you’re going to, especially when it’s another country. Airlines might bump the ticket prices up if you go there during that country’s peak season. For example, if you’re flying to the Middle East on a business trip, consider scheduling a trip when there are no religious pilgrimages, as plane tickets may be much cheaper on those dates.
#6 Use Other Money-Saving Methods
The traveling habits you may practice might be the reason for the excessive spending. For example, you may drive your personal vehicle to the airport and park it there. Airports often charge high fees just for parking on their property. So, request to be transported to the airport in a company car or park your vehicle in a nearby, cheaper parking space.
Another common mistake is over-packing. Most corporate trips last a week at minimum and a month at max. So, pack light and only bring what’s necessary during your visit. Bringing excess baggage on a plane will incur additional fees, denting your budget without you realizing it.
Lastly, consider how many members of your company are traveling to one location. You may get travel discounts on groups in some cases. But most of the time, you’ll spend more for each person on the trip. If possible, only send out the most crucial members or offer to pay for the travel expenses of your client going to you instead.
Even the biggest companies need to stick to their budgets. Corporate travel doesn’t always take the bulk of a business. But if you and your team squander the money, it could be a massive blow to your finances. So, remember these tips the next time you have a business meeting to attend in another location. You could save a significant amount to use for other essential matters.