Business travel can be tricky, so you don’t always have the same options that you do with consumer travel. You can’t really be too flexible with your travel dates or what airport you fly into. Of course, the best way to save money on business travel is to avoid it altogether. Scheduling web conferences, video chats, and even remote presentations mean you don’t have to leave your office to interact with clients.
Save Money While Do Business Travel Expenses
So when you absolutely have to spend the time and effort to travel, you might as well save some money, especially if you have to do it often. Here are some unexpected ways to save on business travel expenses.
1. Purchase Tickets and Travel at the Right Time
For a long time, we have been told that there are certain times and days when it is cheaper to book travel. Conventional wisdom says this day is Tuesday, and sites like farecompare.com narrow it down even further to the exact time: 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
However, a new study by the Wall Street Journal says that the cheapest tickets are bought on Sunday. Even though this is not usually a business day, jumping on the web and buying tickets for your business travel might save you some coin. Other travel sites like CheapAir.com say there is little difference in fares regardless of when you buy tickets. The conclusion: be on the lookout for cheap fares all the time, but especially on Tuesdays and Sundays.
If at all possible, schedule your business trips on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Avoid Fridays and Sundays, which are the most expensive days to travel. If a client wants you to arrive Monday morning, it is better to take an early flight than a late one on Sunday in most cases. Do yourself a favor and plan ahead.
You can never be too prepared. If you’re not a morning person, do yourself a favor and don’t schedule a morning flight. If you don’t handle flying well or have done too much of it lately, learn how to deal with jet lag.
Get your ticket on a good day, make a checklist for the day of your flight, and be prepared to deal with anything that comes at you.
2. Set Alerts for Airfare Drops
Do you travel to cities on a regular basis? Set alerts on various travel sites for those cities, and buy when fares are the cheapest if at all possible. This, of course, means that you should plan for travel ahead of time.
While there are times when last minute travel is necessary, you can save a ton by offering your employees incentives to book ahead of time, and setting alerts for the lowest prices.
Another tip is to keep shopping after you have booked your flight, at least for a little while. Airlines are required to refund tickets within 24 hours of when they were purchased or held, and some will even match competitor rates rather than lose your business to a competitor.
3. Use Hotel and Airline Rewards
This seems like a no-brainer, but many business travelers miss out on the advantages of travel rewards because they travel all the time, and it is usually in a company budget. However, this can not only save the company money, but it can work for the employee as well.
Offer to split the rewards with them, or do some kind of benefit share. Allow them to use some of the miles or nights they earn for personal use. This is a tremendous way for both of you to save money and allows the company to provide a perceived benefit as well.
Also, use branded airline and hotel cards. These often allow you to earn more points and freebies than the standard reward programs alone, and you can earn points for other purchases as well. You’ll have to evaluate which card will work best for you and your business, and you may want to have more than one, one for hotels and the other for airfare.
These reward programs, while often intended for consumers, can also be a big benefit to business travelers, and some even offer programs designed for companies and frequent travelers. You can’t do enough for the people who travel to work in the name of your company.
4. Book Direct
Those bundle sites on the web don’t always have the best deals. In fact, most of the time you can get better deals by booking directly early. You can also get better room upgrades, have more seat choices, and more perks directly from airlines, hotels, and rental car companies.
Those reward programs we talked about? You can also get more out of them by booking direct. There are often bonus points, and with some companies, you can’t redeem points for nights, miles, or rentals if you don’t book directly with the company.
Bundling sites like the ones mentioned are good for planning trips. You can see what hotels and airlines you should call, and what flights you should ask for. The exception to this is if you are traveling internationally, where booking connections and layovers can be tricky. In that case, bundling sites work well.
If you are going to save money on business travel, you may have to be a little creative, but these four ways will help you save money and reduce expenses without going to a whole lot more effort or spending a great deal of time booking travel.
Encourage other employees in your company who travel to use these as well. The bottom line benefit will be better for everyone, both the travelers and the company.