With spiralling costs but the case for travel strong, Hugh Batley, founder and managing director of business travel management company TruTrip, offers some tried-and-tested suggestions to reduce travel spend
For many companies, business travel is key to regaining post-pandemic momentum. But just as business leaders get ready to take on new frontiers, 2022 brings global inflation causing costs to increase all around and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently reviewed and increased their inflation forecasts by ~13 per cent for both 2022 and 2023.
Travel is no exception; with the cost of travel increasing +27 per cent in some regions due to (Covid & Russia-Ukraine conflict-related) lower capacity, high demand and a fundamental increase in provider costs, for example, airline fuel has increased by 35 per cent.
But business must go on and, the past two years have taught us, that sometimes there are no substitutes for meeting in person.
Here are some ways your company cut travel spending without compromising on effective travel.
1. Planning early
Planning ahead means booking flights and hotels well in advance to get the best deals possible. It also means setting a budget before booking anything because this will help you figure out what accommodation and commute options suit your needs best.
We know making early travel plans isn’t the most ideal in a fast-paced business landscape. Schedules are subject to change and cancelled travel plans at the last minute can incur hefty losses for your company. But we’re here to say planning your employees’ travel calendar months ahead of time can help you save money. You get to take advantage of early bird travel prices and secure your top hotel and flight seat choices.
This is the most straightforward advice, but implementing it is not necessarily easy unless you use a travel management solution with flexibility built-in. For most travellers, a flexible travel solution can save you up to 50 per cent vs booking a week or less before departure.
2. Effective policy
Employees find it difficult to understand and follow policies if the guidelines are confusing and frequently updated. This is all-too-common when using manual methods to enforce policies.
If you automate your business travel policy, then you can monitor all spending on travel more effectively and ensure compliance with company policies. To achieve this and beat travel inflation, a tech-driven travel management solution like TruTrip allows you to customise your travel blueprint down to granular options.
3. Trim around the edges
Knowing exactly how much each trip costs empowers you to make informed decisions about which destinations are worth visiting. This ensures that every penny spent on travel goes towards achieving an important objective for your company.
Calculate the minimum viable travel cost for the essential options your company policy permits, then compare it to the actual current cost. Keep in mind other expenses beyond the actual travel costs, such as charges for cancellations and rebookings, the outlay for software solutions, and even manpower costs.
4. Opt for low-cost carriers
Low-cost carriers offer a range of benefits, with lower fares being the most prominent. With this option, you can often find more cost-effective deals than traditional carriers while still maintaining good service levels.
These carriers are hardly the preferred option for most business trips, though. However, for shorthaul trips, they offer the best value for money. Your employees will still get to their destination in time and with reasonable comfort levels.
5. Alternative accommodation
There are a growing number of alternatives to hotels that can help you keep costs down while ensuring your travellers’ relative satisfaction. Long-stay apartments, boutique hotels, hostels, bed-and-breakfasts, and Airbnbs are great examples of this.
Group collaboration trips, in particular, can soar to very high prices when you book hotels for teams. But you’d discover that these alternative accommodation options are also comfortable and they even ensure better flexibility that could help teams form stronger bonds.
6. Plan stays along key public transport routes
Another way to minimise the impact of travel inflation is to consider lodging your travellers outside the main city centre. This probably sounds counterintuitive at first. But consider this: getting your travellers accommodations outside the city centres but within easy reach of public transport, such as an express bus, can help you save on exorbitant hotel costs. Because you are planning along the key public transport routes, your travellers won’t have to worry about their commute to meeting venues.
7. Prioritise your travel based on impact
Frankly, there is an overdose of meetings in the corporate world. Yet, despite the endless opportunities for business interactions, both physical and virtual, it still seems difficult to get anything done. This means one thing: no meeting is important enough if it does not generate genuine collaboration.
If you question the methods and impacts of your meetings, you might discover that some interactions shouldn’t have been meetings at all and some goals can be achieved more effectively without meeting physically.
Simply prioritising meeting objectives can cut your travel spending significantly and raise your company’s productivity.
Clearly, beating travel inflation takes some work. The key to success is setting objectives for lower spending, ensuring visibility into your travel expenses, and enhancing reporting. The right travel management integrations help you do just that and there’s no better time than now to rethink how you do business travel.