Business travel doesn’t have to be expensive. With the right approach, you can cut costs without negatively impacting the overall objective of the trip. You just have to be intentional and discerning.
5 Cost-Effective Business Travel Tips
A dollar saved is as good as a dollar earned. If you can slash your company’s travel expenses by 20 to 50 percent (which is definitely possible), you can save thousands of dollars per year. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Drive vs. Fly
Did you know that there are situations where driving may actually be a lot more cost-effective than flying? In fact, it might be quicker too.
While flying has become the norm, it’s not always necessary when you’re traveling within a certain radius. Flights often include jacked up pricing and the need to pay for parking, connecting flights, going through airport security, checking baggage, etc. Driving can save you a significant amount.
Driving yourself may be an option, but you could also find a long distance car service. These car services will usually cover as much as 500 or 700 miles (or less). And because you don’t have to arrive 90 minutes early, check baggage, and wait to board and deboard a plane, the total travel time may be very similar.
- Plan Ahead
Generally speaking, prices rise the closer you get to the travel date. When possible, book flights and hotels as far in advance as you can. You might even find certain hotels that offer free cancellation up to 24-72 hours before the reservation. This means you can book multiple hotels in advance and then continue price shopping up until the trip’s date.
- Stay Near the Airport
Location is everything with a hotel – at least price wise. If you want to stay in the middle of the city, you’re going to pay a pretty penny. But if you’re willing to move a few miles outside of these high demand areas, you can save a significant amount.
One strategy is to book airport hotels. One study shows that airport hotels are more than 50 percent cheaper (on average) compared to hotels of the same caliber that are located in the city center. This could lead to several hundred dollars in savings per trip.
- Set a Realistic Food Allowance
Outside of transportation and accommodations, food is by far the most expensive line item in a business travel budget. Here are a few tricks you can use to lower food costs:
- Set a budget. Create a realistic food allowance. Your employees don’t need to eat at five-star restaurants. In an average city, a $40-$50 daily food allowance is plenty. That gives them $10-$12 for breakfast, $10-$12 for lunch, and $16-$26 for dinner.
- Encourage saving. Motivate employees to save on food by giving them half of their savings back in cash. That means if someone only spends $30 out of $50 one day, they get to keep half of the $20 savings ($10).
- Choose the right hotels. Some hotels offer a free continental breakfast. When all else is created equal, choose the hotel that offers the free breakfast.
If you can get an employee to save $20 per day in food, that’s huge. If you multiply that number by 10 employees who each travel 30 days per year, that’s worth $6,000 in savings ($500 per month).
- Reward Employees
The truth is that your employees don’t care nearly as much about saving on travel as you do. After all, the only thing they care about is enjoying the trip and reducing stress. If that means spending more, they’ll just charge it to the company.
If you want your employees to prioritize saving money, incentivize them to do so. You can create an average trip cost and then give them a bonus for coming in under that number. For example, if you deem the average cost to be $2,000 and they only spend $1,500, you might give them 10 percent of the savings ($50) in a Visa Gift Card.
Adding it All Up
You don’t have to “cheap out” to save money on business travel. You simply need to be conscientious. There are plenty of opportunities to save money. Once you know where you’re overspending, you can easily cut back, shift, or pivot to enjoy some savings. Let this article point you in the right direction.