Business travel is an essential expense and usually a very large one! So, while spending money on travelling is necessary for most organisations, it’s very easy to let business travel expenditure spiral out of control. If you’re wondering how you can reduce the amount your business spends on travel, here are seven business travel cost saving ideas you can implement straight away to start saving money.
#1 – Increase the advance booking period
Unlike leisure travel, the general rule of thumb for business travel is the further ahead you book the cheaper the price will be. This is particularly the case for rail and air travel. Take a look at your travel data and see how far in advance bookings are being made. If your average is three days before travel, it’s safe to say there’s room for improvement! Check out our example below:
Cheapest available return train ticket from York to London
28 days in advance = £107
21 days in advance = £141.50
14 days in advance = £170.50
7 days in advance = £239
3 days in advance = £239
Booking 28 days in advance is a massive 44.7% cheaper than booking three days before travel.
Increasing the advance booking period (also known as lead time) is best achieved by educating your employees and continually reminding them why it’s important. If you can, come up with an incentive to help encourage them to book earlier and share the success with them to say thank you.
#2 – Introduce and enforce a business travel policy
Business travel policies are vital to let your travellers know what they should and shouldn’t book, if you don’t have one, you’re giving employees permission to book whatever they want! Guidelines are great, but remember not to make them too rigid, a little bit of flexibility is usually a good idea if you want to keep your travellers happy too. If you’re going to go to the trouble of writing a business travel policy, make sure you enforce too.
#3 – Offer incentives for employees to save money
Sometimes the knowledge that they’re saving company money isn’t enough to make travellers choose a more cost effective option. Think about how you can incentivise your employees by rewarding them when they make a saving. Some companies give the employee a share of the savings, others offer extra annual leave days, and others provide vouchers. You can provide whatever’s right for the culture of your business, but a reward for saving company money is an excellent way to thank your employees for their efforts and will encourage further savings.
#4 – Negotiate with your most frequently used suppliers
If you’re not negotiating with the suppliers you use the most, you’re missing a trick. Collate the data of how much business you’re sending their way and use this to negotiate a discount. If you’re using one, this is something your travel management company will do on your behalf, but if you don’t have one, you can still approach suppliers directly to secure a deal. Don’t just look at suppliers, look at your top destinations and travel routes; you may be able to consolidate bookings to fewer providers to give you more buying power.
#5 – Implement an online booking tool
Online booking tools are an excellent way to reduce the time spent booking travel for straightforward bookings. Not only do they allow travellers to book for themselves, but they also encourage cost savings through something called visual guilt. When travellers see all the options themselves, they find it tough to overspend because their conscience won’t let them (and they know the missed savings will be reported on). Furthermore, booking through your travel management company using the online booking tool will be a lower fee than if you book over the phone, so you’ll reduce your transaction fees too.
#6 – Make use of discounted Internet hotel rates
We all know we can get access to hotel deals on certain websites, and you should be making the most of it. The key is to ensure you get these deals through your travel management company, so check which websites they connect to. For example, we link to Laterooms.com and Expedia.co.uk plus a host budget chains to make sure our customers have access to the lowest fares at all times. You should be able to see these rates alongside all the other options so you can pick the best price at the time regardless of where it’s come from.
#7 – Sign up to corporate reward schemes
It’s amazing how much corporate reward schemes are underutilised and they cost nothing to join. Your organisation becomes a member; you book your flights as normal, and you earn points for every booking. Once you have a certain number of points, you can redeem them against air ticket costs and upgrades, or in some cases other travel products such as hotels, lounge access or car rental. On average, our customers save between one and five percent of their business travel spend from corporate reward schemes alone!
Hopefully, these business travel cost savings tips will have given you some food for thought, and that last point is certainly something you can implement straight away. As with most things relating to business travel, communicating with your employees is crucial when you’re trying to save money so make sure you let your employees know why it’s important. Once you have their buy in, you’ll find saving money an awful lot easier.