No matter the size of your business, saving on travel is important
Even if your business can afford not to be frugal about corporate travel, that still doesn’t mean that your management shouldn’t be smart about it. Give your employees the freedom to choose and spend, and you will quickly go bankrupt – but give them a great policy, and they will save you money.
Here’s how to reduce your corporate travel spending for good:
Book Early and Stay Flexible
Every frequent flyer knows the first rule of frugal traveling: book early.
Planning in advance can help you save a lot of money on airfare and hotel stay. Unfortunately, this isn’t always applicable to corporate travel. A great percentage of work-related trips gets scheduled at the eleventh hour, which is why this type of business spending tends to be so costly in the first place.
Nevertheless, you should book early whenever you can.
If you start tracking your employees’ traveling habits, you’ll discover that there’s always some wiggle room you can use to your advantage. Sometimes, even a one day delay can mean a 50 percent savings rate. This is why you should always encourage your employees to be flexible when scheduling their trips.
When booking corporate trips, your organization should always look for several budget-friendly options in a couple of days span. That way, your employees will be able to plan and schedule their on-location meetings for the most convenient date while practicing trip flexibility at the same time.
And speaking of which, always buy flexible tickets with an option of return dates.
Use a VPN to Drop Prices
A Virtual Private Network is a necessary cybersecurity tool that helps individuals and businesses stay anonymous while browsing the internet. Your organization’s IT department probably already has and uses one – if not, they would be smart to procure a reliable VPN as soon as possible.
But how can this tool help you save money on corporate travel?
All online booking sites calculate airfare and hotel prices based on the location of the website visitor. If you are browsing for the cheapest corporate travel options from New York, for example, you’ll be offered higher prices than your colleague who is doing the same from their office in New Delhi, India.
A VPN masks your location by changing your device’s IP address. This means that you’ll be able to book flights for your employees from New York at the same price as your New Delhi-based colleague. A VPN (you can get it here) will reroute your internet traffic, making it appear as if you were located someplace else entirely. The same frugal trick works for hotels and car rentals as well.
Have a Transparent Policy
Your corporate travel policy should be:
- Written in plain language
- Easy to navigate and scan
- Created for real use
- Detailed and transparent
If you tighten your policy and make it very simple to use, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t allow for DIY bookings within set constraints. The most important thing in this scenario is to predict all the potential travel needs of your employees and include them to the policy to avoid unnecessary costs.
Also, be more specific with your reimbursement requirements.
Pro tip: instead of writing an extensive rule book, define your constraints and requirements using brief bullet points. As for the rest of the policy, make it similar to a travel guide – include step-by-step guidelines for planning and booking corporate trips on a budget for the most popular destinations.
Have a Budget Threshold
Whether you opt for DIY booking or not, your organization should set very specific budget thresholds for every expense category, including airfare, hotel stay, on-location transport, and food. This will help make your reimbursement rules and requirements even more transparent and easier to follow.
The only problem is, this requires some thorough research.
Budget thresholds will need to vary from one destination to another, based on how expensive it is to get there and stay on the location for a certain number of days. This is why most organizations end up hiring corporate travel agents. Alternatively, you can task one of your people with this assignment.
Setting budget thresholds for five to ten of the most popular destinations would take a few days tops.
Encourage Frugal Traveling
Finally, incentivize your employees to save money.
There are a couple of ways to approach this. You can either encourage detailed reporting where each cent would be accounted for or simply offer rewards for employees who stay within a certain budget limit. You can even combine these two cost-effective approaches for the best and easiest results.