While corporate travel takes up a lot of time and resource, it also eats away at budget, with business travel spend around the world expected to reach $1.7tn by 2021.
Travel is undeniably an essential part of running a business, and while making savings might sound like a challenge, there are ways to keep your costs down without requiring a huge amount of effort on your businesses part.
1. Introduce a corporate travel policy
Set out a clear, robust corporate travel policy for your employees to follow that considers every area of travel spend. Implement a proper approvals process and issue guidelines on bookings, spending and expenses. Give your business travellers the tools that they need to stay within your policy.
2. Tighten up your approvals process
Make sure you have an approvals process in place that every booking has to go through. Do not reimburse expenses that were not pre-approved or are not covered by the corporate travel policy.
3. Negotiate corporate rates
Negotiate corporate rates with hotel chains and travel companies in order to cut costs. Look for hotels that offer complimentary breakfast or dinner and consider less expensive hotel chains when making bookings. Or, if you let travellers book their own accommodation, set out a budget threshold in the corporate travel policy that employees must adhere to.
4. Set a food and transport allowance
Allocate employees with a realistic food and transport allowance. Set a daily budget for meals, giving staff the choice of how much they spend on each meal. Advise travellers to choose the most cost-effective method of transport, whilst also paying consideration to journey times.
5. Plan ahead and advance book
While in the world of corporate travel it's not always possible, book in advance as and when you can to make drastic savings. Try and schedule wisely and avoid peak, more expensive times.
6. Pay attention to additional costs
Despite the fact that the cost of flight tickets has come down over recent years, many airlines are upping their fees through incremental costs for 'fast track' boarding, luggage check-in, seat upgrade and reservations and flight meals. Consider these additional costs at the time of booking.
7. Consider meeting virtually
While face-to-face meetings are sometimes essential, it's now easier and cheaper than ever to meet virtually with clients or co-workers in different locations using software such as Skype or a business-centric tool like GoTo Meeting or WebEx. For routine meetings these may provide a cost and time effective alternative. BT estimates the use of web and videoconferencing results in annual savings of £180 million for its organisation alone.
Through preparation and planning, your business can make savings when it comes to corporate travel almost immediately.