Come fly with me
Business travel was once seen as a luxury for the privileged few. Getting out of the office, flying first-class, staying in five star hotels, socialising with the client and having a seemingly inexhaustible entertainment account. It was a very expensive exercise. If those further down the company’s food chain had to travel, they went cattle class and were generally put up in flea-bitten motels. Not exactly the best way to inspire one’s staff
So, how do you keep costs down?
The one question every company’s travel manager or accountant must ask is, “Is this trip really necessary?” Apart from the expense, it’s also time consuming, and why travel when you can use online meeting platforms instead?
Well, that’s because business travel is still vitally important. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction when chasing that ground-breaking deal. So, there needs to be a protocol in place that for employees at every level to adhere to in order to seriously save your company’s bottom line.
Wouldn’t it be nice to keep costs under control and your staff happy?
Nearly all expense related products focus on what happens after the money has been spent. Which is way too late. The only way a company could recoup those losses – if a massive deal wasn’t signed as a result of the excursion – is by…let’s just say there won’t be any Christmas bonuses or thirteenth cheques this year. Thankfully, there are ways companies can control the travel spend from the moment the trip gets a “Yes”.
3 ways to save money are:
1. Have an effective pre-trip approval process.
2. Employ a risk management policy.
3. Book airline tickets and hotels as far in advance as possible.
Together with these incredibly efficient ways to reduce a Company's travel costs, these tips below will help guide you when putting your own Company's travel policies in place.
- Try not to hotel hop. When you find a reasonably priced hotel that ticks all the boxes in terms of location, comfort, quality of food and service, stick with them. Remember, hotels want your business. They are more likely to extend extra perks to companies who consistently send their staff to them than for the one-off traveller. Having said that, another way to save money is to stay in hotels one star less than normal. You’d be amazed at the thousands of dollars companies can save by doing this.
- Don’t use favourite airlines, use those that offer good deals and frequent flyer miles. Use company credit cards to get frequent flyer miles discounts.
- With a company card you can get up to a 9.1% discount versus a 5.9% without it for frequent air fares. There’s a possible 12.3% on hotels versus 9.5% and a 14.5% possible discount on rental cars as opposed to a 12.4% without one. Information Resource
- Unexpected things happen and your staff may need to make alternative arrangements on the fly, so to speak. So it’s important to have proper in-progress report back systems and audit trails. Both you and your staff need to know if their suggestions fit the budget. A clear, simple policy helps everyone.
Giving common sense a hand
Sounds easy enough doesn’t it? It can be. Having a system in place for all employees involved in decision making, documentation, reporting, together with those who physically make the journey can use, will make the entire travel process as efficient as possible for all.
What to look for in a travel platform
When you consider that 77% of business travellers book their flights and hotels from a mobile device, it’s obvious that your platform needs to be able to function not only on the office desktop but also on mobile devices and be interlinked. Information Resource
Some of the functions your platform should have are:
For the traveller
- A simple messaging system that keeps the travelling staff member in contact with the home office and is available in multiple languages and currencies.
- An ability to set budgets and policies which give the company control over spending. To ensure that, you need a system where only company approved airlines, hotels, rental car and rail options are displayed.
- Travel risk alerts associated with your destination should come up in real time along with advice as to what to do, and an extra approval step for those high-risk destinations.
- The platform should provide the traveller with the ability to manage their own profile. A system that ensures that the travellers’ data is always up to date. For example, the system should store all passport details, visas and health requirements, along with alerts of passport expiration dates, and visa and immunisation requirements before a booking is finalised.
- You need a platform that provides a full audit trail, daily approval reminders and issues an itinerary when required.
- A travel diary that helps record all private and business activities is another excellent function you should look for.
For the travel manager
- Look for a platform that controls the whole travel management process by combining all back-end reporting and accounting systems and which integrates perfectly with a variety of accounting software solutions. This will make life so much easier for your accounting staff.
- Another aspect that is an enormous help to your accounting staff are customised data records and pre-packaged operational and reporting templates which will allow them to illustrate cost savings, review traveller behaviour and come up with more precise cost cutting solutions.
But what if...
But what if you’re a small company or only a freelancer? Isn’t this all a bit much? There’s nothing ‘only’ about it. You probably need to save money more than the big companies. Find a platform that will give you an easy to use online booking system tailor-made to suit your specific business and travel requirements.
Is your business spending too much on corporate travel? Calculate your potential savings using our Travel Savings Calculator below: