Business travel: What are the best ways to save money?
Business travel can be costly; however, with the world being more connected than ever, it doesn’t have to be! With innovative companies such as Soldo, it’s easy to manage business travel expenses. Soldo prepaid business cards and virtual company cards allow employees to pay for their own business expenses. This means that you have complete control of the budget and staff are not left out of pocket during their business trips.
We’ve put together a list of 12 tips, all of which will help to keep business travel expenses under tight control.
Travel costs can be minimised, often quite substantially, by engaging in a little forward planning. The closer you get to the date of travel, the higher the costs of travel may be. Conversely, the earlier your employees can book, the greater the savings that your company will be able to make.
Be realistic with food and transport allowances
An overall daily allowance for every employee travelling on business gives them the option to pick and choose their own meals. It’s worth understanding the cost of living in each city that your employees visit, as one standard daily rate for all destinations may not be appropriate. Avoid the temptation to trim down daily expenses too far as employees having to cover their own costs may lead to staff becoming resentful.
Set up airfare email alerts
Airlines frequently release low-price offers. Fare-alert tracking software can help your business to save money, even after you have booked flights. Yapta’s FareIQ, for example, will track the costs of your fare right up until the departure date, alerting you whenever savings are available.
Offer incentives for staying on budget
Employees are far more likely to pay close attention to their expenses when there is a specific incentive to do so. That might be benefiting personally from a proportion of the savings made, or it could take the form of vouchers or an extra day’s holiday.
Ensure you are specific with reimbursement requirements
Do you have a clear employee expense policy outlining what is, and what isn’t, classed as an allowable expense? And do you make it easy to track down precisely what those credit card transactions might be hiding? If you’re serious about keeping track of business expenses, then you need to ensure that all employees know how to manage company expenses too. And that means providing detailed itemised reports of all expenditure.
Avoid changing booked travel
Most airlines and hotels will charge a fee for making alterations to a booking once already booked. Try to stick to original travel plans once booked as this will avoid incurring additional costs. If you require a certain degree of flexibility, then be sure to actively seek out airlines and hotel chains that adopt a more favourable approach to alterations.
Book hotels that include a complimentary airport shuttle
It’s often the little things that end up pushing a carefully-structured budget over the limits. Wi-Fi costs and airport parking are just two of the ‘extras’ that can quickly mount up, driving up the cost of business travel. But it’s possible to trim down costs by looking for added-value offers from hotels, such as a complimentary shuttle bus to and from the airport.
Do your research and compare
Travel companies, airlines and hotels spend a lot of time and money promoting their services. The top search result doesn’t necessarily mean it is the most cost-effective option. The key to trimming business travel expenses is to compare as many travel options as possible. Comparison websites are a good starting point, as the potential savings can be huge.
Use the right credit cards
Some business credit cards charge premium rates when used overseas, and some employees may rack up expensive hotel stays. These charges may appear as one single payment on the credit card statement – so you are unable to see a proper breakdown of costs.
Choosing the right credit card for your exact needs can be a cost-effective move. You could also explore the option of using a prepaid business card, like Soldo, which ensures that costs are never able to spiral out of control. With a Soldo card, you can also take the stress of out of sorting through staff entertainment VAT and client entertainment VAT, as the process is taken care of for you.
It is possible to make dramatic savings to travel costs by travelling light. A single piece of cabin luggage can represent huge savings, especially now that some airlines charge extra for placing baggage in the hold. Additionally, employees will save time at the airport, as they won’t have to wait around at the luggage carousel for a suitcase.
Create spending guidelines
Ensure that you have strict procedures in place for booking flights and hotels, as well as all additional expenses. Your organisation should put together a comprehensive corporate travel policy, setting out the approval process and defining spending limits. That way, everyone understands what is required and expected of them.
Why go to the expense of travelling anywhere at all? Business nowadays can be conducted through video or voice calls with multiple attendees, using programs such as Skype. Various software online allows for virtual meetings and conferences to take place anywhere in the world, as long as there is a reliable internet connection.