Effective ways an executive assistant can reduce travel costs

The importance of executive travel 

When it comes to the life of high-flying business executives, travelling is a key element of the job. There are many executives that regularly travel from one country to the next all around the world as they address different business areas, and this has a major positive impact on the global economy in today’s age.

To build rapport with potential clients, it is important to invest time in relationships with them. After all, communication is the cornerstone of any relationship, and studies have shown that up to 93% of communication is non-verbal. How can executives expect to build trusting relationships if they are only using the 7% of communication effectiveness that comes from the words they use? 

It should be no surprise then that in this connected and global era, corporate travel is big business that continues to grow, with year on year spending growing at more than 5%. 

The costs involved in planning executive business trips 

There are many costs involved when planning business travel and these can vary widely. The myriad of factors in a trip’s cost include: 

  • length of trip
  • origin and destination
  • mode of transport
  • accommodation
  • food and drink
  • entertainment expenses 

Companies will differ in their expense policies, so not every business will pay for all of the above items in full. Even if they do, it’s in the interests of executive assistants to look for ways to reduce travel costs where possible. Doing so can save your employer significant sums, since it’s been found that companies spend an estimated 10% of their annual expenditure on employee travel expenses.

We’ll look at the most effective ways executive assistants can cut costs associated with business travel. 

Know your company’s travel policy and utilize it 

With a travel policy, you will have a firm framework of what expenses are allowed for business trips, the limits on individual items, and any preferred providers. 

Your company may have established relationships with certain travel providers and even corporate discounts to take into account the scale of their spending. By booking through any relevant corporate travel portals, you will often automatically avail yourself of these discounts. 

Using aggregate comparisons websites to reduce costs

When booking business trips, researching comparison websites to find the best deals is a useful method for both establishing the best value options and saving you time.

While comparison sites like Booking.com are commonplace, relatively new innovations include services that not only aggregate results from these sites, but also combine booking information and expenditure into a single convenient app. Sites like SafarPass thus allow executive assistants to maintain all relevant travel info and the associated costs in one place.  

Booking packages of travel, accommodation, and other services together is also a common way to save money, as providers will often offer a discount on multiple items to ensure your custom. Booking separately can increase costs for the business and overall total amount, whereas finding an inclusive deal makes it easier to use the same travel service and save money.

Plan in advance

As with most services, booking in advance is an easy way to save money. While not always possible with business trips, when you can, try to get a handle on what meetings may be on the horizon further in advance. For popular business destinations like New York, getting your plane tickets 3 months in advance will incur significant savings. The Airlines Reporting Corporation found that savings of more than 60% could be achieved by booking flights sufficiently in advance. Booking in advance can also save money and increase choice when it comes to hotels, hire cars, and meeting spaces. 

Fly at off-peak times

For business meetings abroad, flying is often the only realistic transportation choice. Once you’ve found a comparison site for these, there are several ways you can reduce travel costs. Studies have shown that air fares can vary dramatically depending on which day of the week you fly, with midweek flights shown to be cheaper. Of course, with Friday often being a more relaxed business day, flying on Thursday may not always make sense. But even departing on Tuesday as opposed to Monday, the most popular business flight day, can often save you money. 

Extend your booking to fit flights 

It may sound counterintuitive, but often staying longer on a business trip can reap significant savings. If air travel makes up the majority of a trip’s cost, there may be savings to be had by extending your time there. Expedia reported that a Thursday to Monday trip can cost around 20% less than a Friday to Saturday one in terms of long-haul flights. Given long-haul international air fares often stretch into the thousands, saving a few hundred can sometimes cover the costs of extended accommodation. Consider if your executive has more flexible plans that would allow this sort of arrangement. If they were planning to work from home on a certain day, or don’t mind staying the weekend, it’s easy to find savings. 

Use reward programs and cashback cards

It is common for executives to use hotel reward programs, frequent flyer schemes. and credit cards with cashback offers, all of which will help to cut costs without any extra effort. Setting your executive up with the correct information for these, including when to use their card to gain rewards and when to leave it untouched to avoid fees, can reap instant rewards. 

Frequent flyer programs can be a little more complex to manage than cards, especially when it comes to redeeming rewards. Not all routes are valued equally and you may find that cashing in rewards is worth more on some routes than others. Do your research into the going rate for airmiles to find out when you’re getting a good deal—you may have to be patient and save them up for a little longer to maximize the value you can get out of them when booking executive travel. 

Our quick cost-saving business travel checklist

To finish, we’ve pulled together our tips into a simple checklist which you can refer to whenever you’re booking executive travel and looking to cut costs and save. Enjoy and happy traveling!

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