The business landscape is only growing more competitive. As digital technologies continue to bring greater accessibility and agility to what is already a global marketplace, companies need to ensure they are operating at their very best to have any chance of long-term survival.
It’s a game of fine margins—all things being equal, why would any customer choose your product over a rival’s identical offering that’s $0.01 cheaper? Hence managing and reducing costs is one of many cost saving initiatives for large companies and is an essential part of modern business operation.
Corporate travel is likely to be one area that receives plenty of scrutiny whenever business costs are mentioned. Employee business travel can be a significant expense for many organizations. So how can corporate organizations save money on employee travel in 2019? We’ve pulled together the top tips to reduce expenses that will inform your employee travel policy now and in the future.
Consider the necessity of business travel
One of the first areas to look at when aiming to reduce corporate travel costs is whether all the trips being taken are essential. There are a lot of factors that go into this question. After all, there are certainly benefits to traveling for in-person meetings. Such face-to-face encounters generate over 28% more ideas that remote meetings.
But while productive meetings like these have their place, they may be favoured too often. Research also shows that around 9 in 10 people prefer small, in-person meetings, suggesting that they may turn to them even when they don’t need to. It is worth clearly outlining in your employee travel policy what constitutes a worthwhile reason for an in-person meeting and, when people have to justify themselves, you may find costs naturally decrease.
Know what you’re spending
You’d be amazed at how many organizations don’t have a complete picture of exactly how much they are spending on travel costs. Ascertaining this is critical in bringing your costs under control. Just by evaluating your current spending, you may be able to identify several ‘quick wins’ that can help lower your travel budget. For instance, you may have two executives who travel to the same city once a month but do so at different times. By combining their trips, you’re likely to be able to achieve savings without having to sacrifice any of the benefits you’re getting from these meetings.
Write and revisit a clear corporate travel policy
Having written guidelines and procedures is often one of the easiest ways to share knowledge on best practices for booking employee travel and thus generate significant cost savings. For example, you can clearly outline what items are included in your policy, who your preferred vendors are, and how to go about booking in order to get the best deal.
Setting out a policy in this way makes it less likely that your organization will end up overpaying just to cover an employee who doesn’t know how to find the best deal when booking corporate travel. Be sure to revisit your policy on a regular basis to ensure it’s still up to date. What works for booking travel in 2019 might not work as well in 2020!
Be flexible and track the best travel fares
You may want to arrange face-to-face business meetings in a given area that aren’t quite as time sensitive. This may be visiting a customer site to check in on them, but exactly when you do so isn’t of the utmost importance. In these cases, it makes sense to go when you can get the best deal on travel.
By subscribing to notification services about sales, discounts, and promotions, you’ll be able to better assess when to make the trip at the best possible cost. Many corporate travel comparison sites have features like these which you can sign up for.
Plan ahead when you need to:
If you can’t be as flexible in when you travel to a given destination, be sure to book as far in advance as possible. Last minute bookings are often significantly more expensive and merely reducing the frequency with which your organization books travel at short notice can often achieve decent savings. While the exact timings vary internationally, there is likely to be a golden ‘booking window’ for your country to get the best fare. For instance, to save money in the US, booking a month before your departure date is likely to be your best option.
Make the most of corporate travel rewards
If your employees are frequent flyers, then it makes sense to take advantage of any loyalty program you can in order to build up rewards that can then lower your overall travel costs. Hotel chains, airlines, and car hire companies are just some of the providers who will welcome your repeat business and offer you discounts, offers, and cashback in return.
Get creative with your travel destinations and times
Should you do something just because everyone else is doing it? Absolutely not! When it comes to cutting costs on employee travel in 2019, popularity contests aren’t always a great sign of value. By opting for slightly more ‘out there’ destinations and travel times, you can stand to make significant savings.
Airports charge airlines for a variety of reasons, from terminal space to runway charges, and these costs are naturally passed on to travelers through the ticket prices they pay. Therefore, at airports with lower landing fees, corporate travelers stand to make savings. Often small and medium-sized airports charge these lower fees, since they don’t have the demand that busier destinations do.
Of course, your travel will be planned with a specific destination in mind, but if there’s a nearby airport that’s often overlooked, you stand to save. A similar supply and demand principle applies to flight times. Airlines can justify charging as much for flights at less sociable hours since they can’t always get the passengers to fill these routes. So looking to travel early in the morning or late in the evening can often result in savings too.
Consult experts by engaging corporate travel specialists
Let’s face it: you and your employees may not be the best placed people to try all the money saving tricks required to best cut the costs of corporate travel. By working with aggregated corporate travel sites or even hiring experts to manage your employee travel program, you may be able to save both money and time—time that can be invested into your business in other ways.