2020 may have been the year of Zoom meetings and Facetime calls, but let’s face the facts: for many businesses and industries, nothing beats actual face time with your clients, partners, and customers, especially during this crazy year.
And with COVID-19 restrictions lifting in many areas, it’s a great time to start getting back to traveling (with the right precautions in place, of course).
If you’re nervous about the expenses involved, you’re not alone. Even in “normal” times, expenses related to employee travel are a big source of worry for many companies. Add tightened budgets into the mix, and it’s no wonder some companies have nixed all travel.
Still, business travel is important for converting would-be prospects into customers, maintaining relationships with clients, keeping remote employees happy and engaged, training and leading new employees to success, and more. With the tips below, you’ll be able to keep your travel plans intact while also saving some cash along the way.
The most effective tip to keeping work travel expenses on track is to start with a good foundation. Depending on your company’s size, you might have one person (like your Human Resources Manager) in charge of booking and/or approving travel, layers of approvals to get through, or it might be a free-for-all as employees research and book on their own. If any of these setups aren’t managed well, it can lead to a big mess.
Here are some ways to streamline things and keep your travel expenses in line:
This tip is well-known in the travel industry, but we’re adding it here because it sometimes gets overlooked with business travel. For example, in some cases, you might be booking your travel with a specific date and time already in mind. That is, the meeting with your client is on Thursday at 10am, or the conference runs from Monday to Wednesday.
Even with a specific date in mind, it’s worth researching all available flights in order to find the best deal. You might find that arriving a day early, even with another hotel stay on the books, is much cheaper than arriving the morning of your meeting. This also gives you and your team a chance to get settled and comfortable, as well as allowing time for delays and other common travel stressors.
Note: This tip is applicable to the day and time that you fly, in addition to when you physically book the ticket. Studies show that the best time to shop for travel deals is on Tuesday afternoon!
In addition to shopping around for the day and time of your work travel trip, don’t forget to shop around with different airlines, as well as aggregators like Expedia, Kayak, and Orbitz. You can also sign up for alerts via price tracking tools, like Google Flights and Skyscanner.
Although shopping around can take some time, in most cases it’s well worth it. Just be careful not to wait too long for a great deal. According to a study from travel and expenses management platform Concur, booking air travel seven or fewer days before a trip costs on average 44% more than if it had been booked 15 days or more in advance.
Another way to get a deal on your business travel is to stay loyal to an airline, hotel chain, or transportation platform. If you and your team travel often, it might be worth looking into a loyalty credit card — or at the very least, using a credit card that offers travel rewards. Many of these cards also offer extra benefits, like insurance on rental cars, free checked bags, bonus rewards, partnership perks (like extra points when you ride with Lyft), and more.
You want your employees to be comfortable and safe when they travel, as well as have the amenities they need (like free WiFi). But that doesn’t mean you need to put them up in 5-star accommodations. If your budget is tight, consider choosing your hotel more strategically to save some money. Look at hotel reviews on sites like TripAdvisor to find comfortable options that cost a bit less.
Make sure to factor in transportation, though; an expensive taxi ride to a hotel outside the city center will add to your costs. Ask about free hotel shuttles, look into public transportation, and research the nearby restaurants and amenities that might factor into your employees’ expenses based on your hotel choice.
Finally, one of the best ways to save on business travel is to use a site like TurboRes. We work with companies small to large to coordinate travel arrangements, ensuring efficient RFPs and static hotel pricing options, so you know exactly what you’ll be spending on your corporate travel. Plus, you can take advantage of extra perks in your dedicated portal.
At TurboRes, we believe in easy, trustworthy travel. Born from the simple idea that corporate travel should be flexible, safe, and transparent, our mission is to provide the most comprehensive business travel solutions out there, especially during these changing times. Contact us today to learn more!