Sending employees on business trips across the country, or worse across the globe, is an expensive task. Yet, for many modern businesses, flying their employees across the map is a necessity, whether it’s for networking purposes, sales, partnerships, scouting, or anything in between. Over the course of a year, the costs associated with corporate travel can add up to a substantial amount, so naturally, you should try to bring these costs down as much as possible in order to reallocate resources towards other goals.
But you can’t simply cut your employees’ allowance, or put them in a shady hotel room, because that would invariably have a negative counter effect. No, you need to find a healthy balance and discover other ways to reduce the cost of business travel while keeping employee satisfaction high. Here’s what you need to do.
Set up a strict business travel policy
Many businesses never go through the trouble of creating a travel policy, and therein lies the first mistake. If you don’t have a corporate travel policy to regulate everything pertaining to business travel, you’re allowing small details (and the fees they carry with them), to fall between the cracks. Needless to say, this is not exactly the best way to cut extraneous expenses. Even if you already have a travel policy, it’s important to revise it and analyze its long-term viability.
Start by creating a robust approval process. There should be clear guidelines on reservations and hotel bookings, allowances and daily expenses, insurance and safety, commuting, and more. Leave nothing to chance and help your employees stay within your policy’s parameters by setting clear guidelines, providing all of the necessary information, and helping with organizing the trip itself.
Save up on airline flights
As you have already gathered through years of experience and accumulated flight expenses, air flights can be very costly, so it’s important to try to reduce flight costs wherever you can. Again, you shouldn’t make such cutbacks that you lower employee morale and satisfaction in the process, rather, you should make certain tweaks to the way you find and book your flights. The most obvious changes you can make would be to book economy only, be flexible with the airlines you use, and book your flights well in advance.
However, if you want to really maximize your savings potential, then go ahead and include smart technology in the process. You can install various apps nowadays that will alert you when cheap flights and accommodation become available, allowing you to snag a good deal at just the right time. If you enable alerts on promotions and discounts, and if you install a price-tracking app, you stand to lower your travel costs significantly.
Capitalize on air miles and other reward programs
Another very important solution you should integrate into your corporate travel strategy is to optimize your credit card use in order to capitalize on various reward programs. Nowadays, card providers will offer all kinds of benefits, including air miles and even credit card with free luggage options that give you a free travel bag or a free checked bag. The important thing is to compare the various options and providers, compare the benefits they offer, and choose the best reward program for your company and your employees’ needs.
Over time, these rewards can rack up significantly and allow you to score free flights for your employees, get valuable discounts, or cashback rewards to put towards their allowances. The possibilities here are numerous, so be sure to take the time to explore credit card reward programs instead of missing out on a good deal.
Be aware of all side charges
Unexpected charges tend to creep up on you, well, quite unexpectedly. This only puts further strain on your budget, and makes your employees nervous because they’ve unknowingly racked up additional charges during their trip. Needless to say, you need to be wary of all potential surcharges and plan for them well ahead of the trip.
It’s important to work those expenses into the travel budget so that your employees can have a productive and stress-free time, but if the expenses prove too cumbersome, you will at least have enough time to find other accommodation and more favorable terms.
Remember to reward your employees
Finally, be sure to reward your employees, and thus your business as well. Why, you might ask? Because by following your policy and choosing cheaper business travel options, your employees are saving you money. They could have charged the deluxe suite to your company’s account, but instead they opted for a smaller room with a painfully dull view, and that kind of sacrifice should be rewarded.
Over time, these small savings will add up to a substantial sum, so be sure to incentivize further savings on their part. You can give them a corporate gift card, a voucher for their favorite store, a cash bonus, extra vacation days – the choice is yours but the main thing to keep in mind is that everyone will benefit from this simple act of gratitude.
Sending your employees on business trips might be a necessity, but that doesn’t mean that you should break the proverbial bank in the process. Use these tips to minimize travel expenses and reallocate the saved-up capital towards other crucial processes in your company.