Travel is an inseparable part of managing a business, enabling business owners to acquire new clients and investors and manage operations across multiple locations. However, the soaring travel and transport costs are hitting businesses hard, making it tough for business owners to efficiently manage their annual travel budget. In fact, a report released at the 2017 Global Business Travel Association Convention, American firms spend over USD 424 billion per year on business travel.
Consequently, planning a business trip can be extremely overwhelming and stressful for business owners who are aiming at optimally utilizing their funds.
Carefully planning your business trips can go a long way in improving your firm’s profitability. Here are five ways you can save money on your next business trip.
1. Book Air Tickets the Smart Way
Airfares tend to soar when the demand is high and tickets are booked closer to the travel dates. Consequently, planning your trip in advance and booking tickets early saves you last-minute anxiety and avoidable expenses.
Use helpful websites and applications such as Flights.Idealo that offer you insights on the most optimal plan for efficient air travel, deals and discounts, the potential weather issues, airlines’ lounges, and frequent flier programs.
When looking for an ideal flight, compare the airfares with respect to all the airports you have access to. For instance, if you live in the New York City, compare airfares for the various available options, namely the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport, and the Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP). Departing from a major airport in your city is extremely convenient; however, it will severely upset your finances.
Several airlines define peak-and-shoulder-season airfares based on the demand, the weather, the academic schedule, and holidays. If you have the flexibility of traveling in the off-season months, book shoulder-season flights that will enable you to save money on your air travel.
For instance, flights are inexpensive and less crowded in January, February, May, June, September, October, and November. Moreover, traveling in the middle of the week (Tuesdays or Wednesdays) is cheaper as most of the business and personal travel happens on the other days of the week, increasing the demand and the airfares.
Also, airlines often do not publicize the fact that you are entitled to a refund if the fares of your air tickets go down. Check the airlines’ policies to get a refund in case the airfares drop.
2. Save on Your Hotel Stay
Accommodation costs vary significantly by the destination and the travel date. Research online on getting a sense of the best possible stay options and the fares, but call the hotel directly to inquire about deals, special rates, and free upgrades. Direct booking with the hotel will evade third-party fees, enabling you to save on your accommodation when you are traveling for work.
Several hotels offer volume-based corporate rates and discounts to large and small organizations. Negotiate with the most preferred hotel vendors in the cities frequented by you and fix business accommodation rates for you and your employees. When booking your stay at the hotel, the negotiated corporate rate will apply automatically when you produce the company’s travel code, leading to huge savings.
It is wise to book your stay in advance in order to get the best room tariff, however, if you have to travel for an urgent meeting consider last-minute hotel booking websites such as HotelTonight that offer unsold hotel rooms at an excellent rate.
If you are traveling for a day, consider partial day stays at hotels, enabling you to pay on an hourly basis without paying for the night stay. Startups such as HotelsByDay and Dayuse offer rooms that fit their guests’ schedule, allowing them to relax, store their luggage, and attend their business meetings.
Homestays and apartment rentals are becoming increasingly popular with business travelers, enabling them to stay in home-like and inexpensive accommodations. Airbnb has a special set of features and benefits for corporate travelers, making business travel easy and cost-effective.
3. Choose Your Ground Transportation Carefully
Through travel rides may seem to be trivial expenses, they represent up to ten percent of America’s total business travel budget. Instead of hiring a rental car to travel around for business, choose shared transport services, namely the shuttle bus or the train. E-hailing and ride-sharing services, namely GrabCar, Uber, and Easy Taxi offer cheaper travel rides and good services to their riders.
Local car rental services offer cheaper rides in comparison to the ‘big-name’ car rental companies. Research on the major car booking websites and go through their reviews to check if the company offers reliable and safe travel services.
4. Marry Loyalty Programs
If you are a frequent traveler it is worth signing up for the reward programs offered by your credit card company, airlines, hotels, restaurants, and car rental services. The airline miles and the reward points offered by the hotels and banks can go a long way in reducing your travel expenses.
Apart from offering you reward points, frequent-flier programs come with attractive perks, namely access to VIP lounge, upgrade to first or business class, priority check-in and boarding, extra baggage waivers, and premium seating. Hotels chains too offer rewards such as free hotel nights, room upgrades, and early or late check-in or check-out.
Even if you travel intermittently, it is wise to sign up for these reward programs to avail of the monetary benefits they offer.
5. Get Smart with Your Foreign Currency
Before traveling to an international destination for a business meeting take a moment to consider your options for exchanging the currency.
Beware of zero percent commission deals and free delivery offers when dealing with foreign exchange companies and currency agents. Read the fine print and look out for extra hidden costs that can blow your travel budget into thin air.
Plan ahead of your travel dates and shop around for agents and currency aggregators who can offer you the best conversion rate. Compare the deals offered by them with the market rate using reliable currency websites such as XE.com.
Home banks often waive off commission fees for their privilege banking customers. It is wise to check with your local bank before buying currency from a foreign exchange agent.
Minimizing your business travel expenses can significantly improve your profitability, saving you funds for other critical operations. Use the above-mentioned tips to save money on your next business trip, enabling you to use your funds resourcefully.
(Featured Image via: pixabay)