Every penny counts in today’s economy, and a company’s travel and expenses budget can quickly become a big source of cost overruns and surprises if both management and employees aren’t vigilant about keeping travel expenses as low as possible. Whether you’re a large or small company, have lots of employees who travel or only a few, have a travel company or allow employees to book their own travel, these six simple tips can help you keep your costs down in tougher times.
- Pack up savings by avoiding baggage fees. Most companies have policies in place for booking air travel, and lots of websites help fliers compare ticket prices, but extra fees, especially baggage check fees, can really add up and may make a ticket that looks more expensive be the more affordable option in the end. Of course, the best possible scenario is not to check luggage at all, but for some trips that just isn’t realistic, so if you need to check, make sure you add in the bag fees before you book. We love this airline fees chart from travel website kayak.com that outlines the checked baggage and other fees for all the major airlines.
- Extend your savings with extended stay. Often, if your stay involves more than 2 nights, extended stay hotels like Residence Inn, Extended Stay Hotels, and Candlewood Suites may save big bucks. Not only might these chains offer lower rates per room night, but the savings can really add up when you consider savings from being able to dine out (even if it’s just for breakfast), and high-speed internet charges. Many travelers don’t consider extended stay hotels when booking their travel, but in reality they may save money and also provide more of the “comforts of home” for those longer trips.
- Save on the most important meal of the day. Coffee and breakfast give you the energy you need for your meetings, trade show, or whatever takes you away from home. If you’re staying at a “regular” hotel, look for one that offers free breakfast. Room service and restaurant breakfasts can add hefty sums to that travel expense report, and most free breakfasts are high quality. Which ones are the best? A September 2012 Today Show article listed mid-range hotel chains such as Hyatt Place, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites, Residence Inn, Country Inn & Suites, and Element Hotels.
- Plan ahead to get ahead. No question, last-minute travel happens and you usually pay a higher price for airline tickets and hotels. But the dates and locations for most trips, whether to an annual convention or quarterly business review with a client, are known in advance and should be booked in advance to maximize savings. Don’t trust yourself to remember to book one month out? We love yapta.com, which allows you to put the dates of your trip in the minute you know about it, and then sends you notifications every time there’s a fare change, letting you know the perfect time to buy. In addition, Yapta helps you get a refund on select airlines (including several of the major carriers), if your flight drops below what you paid (refund rules and amounts vary by airline).
- Go green and stay home. If you haven’t explored the possibility of using video conferencing to reduce your company’s travel expenses, it’s definitely worth your time to do so. You might be surprised at how easy it is to justify an investment in teleconferencing equipment. Wainhouse Research conducted an analysis with a set of assumptions for a mid-sized company that showed significant savings and tremendous ROI.
- Automate your way to savings. Online expense reporting software, like DataServ’s Expense Report Automation solution, can save your company valuable time and money on the back-end; after the traveler returns home. This easily tailored, user-friendly Software as a Service program works with a company’s existing travel partners and helps companies and their employees better manage a significant source of pain: the expense report. It replaces inefficient paper and/or Excel-based reporting and integrates expense reporting under one platform with Accounts Payable. DataServ’s solution set is unique in that it can make sense for even mid-sized companies; competitors’ offerings often are so complex and require such a large investment that they are out of reach for these firms.