Making corporate travel savings might sound like a challenge – especially if you have lots of employees flying to different locations at different times. But there are ways to keep your costs down without compromising on traveler safety or services.
With a smart process in place, you can save money on every trip – and make both your travelers and your stakeholders happy. Check out 10 of the most effective ways to reduce your overall corporate travel spend.
1. Tighten up your corporate travel policy
From booking flights to meal allowances and handling expenses, there’s a lot to consider when setting out a corporate travel policy. That means there’s plenty that can slip through the net. Take a close look at your existing corporate travel policy and think about whether it’s robust enough to cover every area of travel spend within your company.
Focus first on getting the fundamentals in order – a proper approvals process, along with guidelines on bookings and reservations, on-site spending and expenses. Setting out clear procedures will help your business travelers make decisions that stay within your policy and don’t incur additional costs that hurt your bottom line. If you don’t have a travel policy in place, read our handy guide on how to write one.
2. Have a pre-trip approval process
One of the simplest ways to reduce your corporate travel spend is by having an approval system in place for every booking. By making it clear who needs to give approval for travel, you won’t have the problem of trips having to be cancelled after they’ve been booked, triggering wasted expenditure.
If you partner with a travel management company, make full use of their Online Booking Tool. This should give you better oversight when it comes to setting up travel arrangements. CWT’s tool allows you to choose which employees can book their own hotels and flights, and monitor all their bookings easily. It means you can take immediate action if they venture outside your travel policy.
3. Make savings on airline flights
Airline tickets can be expensive, so be smart about which ones you book. You could save just by being flexible on the dates of travel and airline you use, and by booking Economy flights only. However, once you book it’s usually cheaper to have a fixed travel plan. Only buy flexible tickets that give you an option of return dates if they’re absolutely necessary for your trip.
Getting alerts for airfare promotions and discounted rates can also massively reduce your corporate travel costs. For example, CWT’s innovative travel management software searches for the best prices and the most competitive rates on airfares. Our additional price tracking tool – powered by Yapta’s FareIQ – will automatically cancel and rebook tickets when it finds a cheaper deal to the same location, saving you even more money. On average, our customers are able to save USD $170 per ticket.
4. Cut the cost of hotels
Room rates can vary enormously, even within the same hotel, so being smart can deliver big savings. You may decide you want to let your business travelers choose where they want to stay. That’s fine – just make sure you set a budget threshold or star rating. You might also want to specify that standard rooms should be the required room type, and clearly outline whether you’ll be covering minibar charges, Wi-Fi costs and so on.
If you want to stay in control of the booking, research will also pay off. Our CWT Hotel Intel platform provides genuine, independent peer reviews from business travelers who have stayed in those hotels. If you’re visiting the same location regularly, we can help you negotiate special discounts on hotel rates. You can also watch the savings mount up with our hotel rate tracking tool – powered by Yapta’s RoomIQ – which will cancel and rebook accommodation when prices drop. On average, our customers are able to save USD $135 per stay.
5. Set a realistic food and transport allowance
You might find that giving employees control over their food and transport spending can actually reduce overspending. Meal expenses can be set as an overall allowance per day, giving the employee the choice of how much to spend individually on breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’ll always be exceptions – so keep that five-star restaurant in reserve for your highest-profile client meetings. When it comes to transport, you should clearly advise employees to choose the most cost-effective method, factoring in journey times. This could include using their own vehicles to get from A to B and then reimbursing them.
6. Plan ahead
This is the golden rule when it comes to saving money in any sense. In the world of corporate travel, it’s always wise to book flights and hotels in advance as they can dramatically increase in price nearer the time.
With CWT Trip Estimator you can get a better understanding of ticket prices further in advance, as well as booking trends, hotel rates and more. Also, be smart about who’s covering your client meetings – does it make sense to send someone hundreds of miles to a meeting if there’s already an employee in the location who can cover it?
7. Understand travel auxiliary charges
Additional charges such as Wi-Fi and parking easily add up to give you a nasty surprise at the end of a trip – especially when you thought everything had been accounted for. Some business service providers can bundle these costs into one combined package, helping you factor them into your budget forecasts and keeping you in control of your spend.
8. Help your employees be more productive on the road
If your business travelers are spending less time organizing their trip, they’re spending more time working – which is good for your company. Making their journey run as smoothly as possible at every stage will help them stay productive during their trip.
Software can play a big part in this – for example, our complimentary CWT To Go™ app syncs employees’ travel schedules with their business smartphone calendars, giving them important travel details whenever they need them. Plus, we share local information and discounts, so they don’t have to go looking for them, giving employees more time to get on with their work while they’re on the road.
9. Consider a travel management service
Hiring a corporate travel specialist can really rein in your overall business travel spend. As experts in the field, at Carlson Wagonlit Travel we work with global organizations to implement customized travel management programs and services – and our industry-leading travel support can save you money, time and stress.
By teaming up with a company like CWT you can benefit from preferential rates on airfares and hotels, as well as on-site offers and promotions. Plus, our best-in-class CWT AnalytIQs software brings together data from trip expenses such as airfares and non-trip expenses such as business meals. It gives you full visibility of all your travel arrangements, helping you make the right decisions that will lead to significant reductions in your costs.
10. Reward your employees – and your business
Every time your travelers pick a more cost effective option, they’re saving the company money. Over the course of a year, that can really add up. So how about giving them an incentive to deliver further savings? It could be a voucher for their favorite store, a share of the savings, or time off – just some way of thanking employees for reducing your travel costs and encouraging them to keep doing it.
There are also savings to be had by ensuring your business makes the most of corporate reward schemes. These cost nothing to join and give your company points every time you make a booking. Once your points have built up, they can be redeemed against the cost of airline tickets, upgrades and often hotels and car rental.
These are just some of the ways you can make savings on your corporate travel costs. But every business is different, and as experts we can work with your organization to create a robust corporate travel management package that’s tailored to your employees, industry and economy – and will keep your spending down over the long-term.