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Corporate Travel: 5 New Ways Small Business Owners can Save Money

Corporate travel can be expensive. By the time you add in all the related expenses such as flights, rental cars, lodging, and meals, you’re looking at some serious expenditures. Multiply that by the number of corporate trips your company is likely to need in a given year, and you’ll see quickly just how fast it all adds up.

There are things most companies do in order to save money on travel. They work with a travel agent that provides discounts, and they put hard limits on meal allowances and such. Yet there are probably things your business can do to save money on corporate travel that you’re not doing yet. Here are some unconventional ways businesses can save on corporate travel:

Corporate Travel: 5 New Ways Small Business Owners can Save Money

  • Reduce your travel needs

Most companies don’t think they do unnecessary travel. After all, that yearly planning session has always taken place at the home office, and all 30 managers have always flown in for those three days of planning. The question to ask, however, is whether that travel is necessary and worth the cost.

In many cases, it simply hasn’t occurred to the company that the same exact goals could be accomplished without the travel expense. Today’s communications technologies offer opportunities like teleconferencing, video conferencing, web-based collaboration, and more. Everything your managers could do in person, they could do remotely. This, of course, has to be measured against the other factors involved; that yearly planning session may well increase camaraderie and productivity among managers, as well as reduce turnover. So for any given travel expense, you need to do a cost-benefit analysis to see if it’s truly worth it.

  • Consider firing your travel agent

The dirty little secret when it comes to corporate travel is this: a travel agent doesn’t always save you money. If you’re a large business with frequent travel, it may actually be less expensive to have an in-house travel coordinator who can spend her time arranging the best deals and taking care of the company’s travel arrangements. That said, smaller companies or those that have infrequent travel may still benefit from going through a corporate travel agency. Here again, it’s important to look at what you’re actually paying, and what it would cost both in terms of cash and worker hours to handle travel in-house.

  • Implement a comprehensive travel policy and get buy-in throughout the company.

Controlling your corporate travel costs starts with defining what your company is and isn’t willing to pay in regard to travel. Policies that define meal allowances and even hotel options will all work together to save you money. Part of having a good travel policy is, in reality, self-interest. For example, submitting of expense receipts is important if you’re going to be able to deduct employee travel expenses. The key to a good travel policy, however, is buy-in. Key players in your business – managers, and those individuals who most frequently travel – need to be informed of the policy and on board.

  • Regularly review your travel metrics

Look at where your company is spending money on travel. Are there opportunities there for savings? For example, if you go exclusive with a single rental car company, you may be able to reduce your overall travel costs. Identify those areas where costs out of control and you’ll be better positioned to leverage savings.

  • Consider unconventional travel methods

If you have several employees traveling to the same destination, there may be better options available to you than just commercial flights. For example, you might actually be able to save money by chartering a private jet, depending on where you’re going and how many people are traveling. For travel that’s within a couple of hundred miles of the office, you may be able to rent a van or provide a company vehicle for a group of travelers. In many ways, it’s all about doing the math; identify all the travel options, not just the standard commercial flight options. Once you have that data, you can make a good decision about how best to travel. Make sure your managers are all up to speed on this process, and educate them in the use of alternative travel methods as well as the costs.

Travel is often just part of the cost of doing business. That doesn’t, however, mean that you just have to accept the costs as they are. Implement some of these techniques today to help your company save on travel costs.

About the Author:Scott Williams is Social Media Coordinator at Marv Golden Pilot Supplies, an online pilot shop providing supplies to airplane pilots. Marv Golden sells a range of aviation headsets, including the top selling light speed zulu.

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