Whether you need to make a big meeting in another country or state, or if you’re sending an employee in your place, business trips can bring unwanted additional costs. Part of the problem is that often travel is uncomfortable, which isn’t ideal if you need to be well-rested for a big pitch. It can be difficult to find the balance between being financially responsible and being mindful of comfort, so below are some tips to help you cut the cost of business travel if you’re a business owner.
Be Crystal Clear About Expenditures
Expenditures are a necessity on any business trip, but you should develop a firm set of guidelines for anybody who undertakes a trip. These could include hotel chains that you approve of (it’s worth calling them up and poking around for a discount if you only use their hotels); the degree of reimbursements for expenses (e.g. reasonably priced dinner max $40; no reimbursements for using the minibar); preferred class of travel (Amazon makes all their executive employees travel in economy).
It is worth remembering that some cities are far more expensive than others. An employee going on a business trip to Manhattan will spend much more than an employee who’s travelling for a conference in, say, Lexington, MA. It is important to include a failsafe that allows you to sign off on spending in an emergency, or even better, try to anticipate and incorporate emergencies into your plan. Include in this a protocol for different time zones (i.e. if there is an emergency and you cannot be reached). It is important to be firm on the limits you set, as well as stick to them yourself.
Check with Employees Regularly
If you choose a hotel chain to receive a discount with, you should regularly check with your employees about their experience. Remember that your aim should be to cut costs while ensuring your employees are well rested and in good spirits. It’s a difficult balance to find, and you’ll likely need to be flexible and experiment with different hotels over a moderate time period.
Save on Taxicabs to the Airport
Taxis can be an expensive way to get to the airport, so it’s worth considering a policy of only driving. Airport parking is often cited as the reason for avoiding driving to airports, but you can get around this by using the services of a company like ParkON, which provides the cheapest parking solution for your nearest airport.
Consider a Travel Booking Service
Travel booking services will add an extra cost, but they can reduce risk and save money in the long run. Try finding a good, reliable booking service that will help you to make a travel plan, advise you on your expenditure policies and save costs with tricks you may not have considered. If a service is outside of your budget, you should consider using booking tools instead.
Connect with an Airline
If you fly a lot, it’s definitely worth speaking to an airline. You can present to them your business’ flying frequency and destinations and ask if you can sign an exclusivity deal, where you will only use their services, but they will give you a discount.
Book as Far in Advance as Possible
As soon as you know the meeting is on you should book a ticket, as the normal rule of thumb with flights is that the earlier you book them, the cheaper they are. Also, have a look at the cheapest day of the week to fly on.
Encourage Public Transport
Public transport is not only better for the planet, it’s better for your wallet too. If you’re attending a large conference, look for free shuttles that go between the hotel and the conference center. If taking a taxi is the only option, encourage employees to share a ride as much as possible. This may take a bit of time to implement, but if you remember to ask them why they took separate taxis when they hand in their expenses report, they’ll soon get the message.
The most important thing to remember when using these tips is that your employee morale is a crucial fundamental of business. If you clearly explain why you make budget decisions, the cost it saves the company and how that saving can be redirected to improve your company growth, means your workforce will be happier.
It’s always a good idea to include a two-way conversational street, especially if your employees travel more than you. You should make it clear that if they can find a better experience, which is not more expensive than the one that the company has chosen, they will be given the green light.