Three Tips to Start Saving Money on Corporate Travel Today

Three Tips to Start Saving Money on Corporate Travel Today

In an era where “basic economy” airfare is a real thing and once-rumored room sharing with co-workers on business trips more fact than fiction, we thought it would be a good time to reiterate some of the more practical ways companies can save money on business travel costs. Things you can do to start saving now, without putting employees in uncomfortable situations or putting too tight a squeeze on the budget. After all, business travel is an important strategic investment with an expected return, so it's best not to take a pennywise and pound-foolish approach with company T&E expenses.

Of course, nothing you'll see here is really all that revolutionary or proprietary. However, what we've found through our research is sometimes the simplest path to saving money on corporate travel is just as easily overlooked. So, without further delay, consider these three proven tips to start saving money on corporate travel today.

Put it in writing
The first step to helping your company save money on travel costs is to document the policies and guidelines for employee travel and associated expenses. Having a written corporate travel policy in place is a critical best practice, something that 79% of companies have a according to the 2017 Certify Annual Trends study. Your policy should outline important information around expense spending limits, preferred vendors, booking and reimbursement procedures, as well as guidelines for what constitutes an allowable expense and which expenses will not be reimbursed. Setting expectations with your employees is the first step to controlling travel costs.

Negotiate vendor discounts
Many companies ignore potential savings because they don't believe their volumes would give them enough leverage in negotiation. What's more often the case is companies simply don't have any idea what kinds of volumes they're purchasing from the various travel vendors, or who the vendors even are. But it pays to find out. Airlines, hotel chains, car rental, even restaurants are happy to extend corporate discounts with the promise of guaranteed bookings. Perhaps your travelers are already choosing from a select group of vendors in each category. If not, it's okay to mandate use of specific vendors in your policy. So, find out who your best vendor partners might be based on company geography, travel footprint and frequency, and employee preferences. And remember, it never hurts to ask.

Use an integrated booking solution
The Internet is an amazing resource for, well, everything, but especially for researching things like airfare and hotel rates. That said, travel booking is one of those areas where less can be so much more. For example, openly searching for a flight from Boston to Denver will yield a multitude of options. But how does your employee know which one is the “best”? Too often convenience is given priority over price, so the company can end up paying a lot more for more or less the same trip. Two features of an integrated travel booking tool can eliminate guesswork for employees while at the same time help the company control costs. In fact, with pre-trip approval and lowest-logical fare functionality, companies can actually control some travel costs even before they end up on an employee expense report.

Expecting employees to make the most cost-effective business travel choices isn't always the best approach. Clear, effective policies that maximize the company's investment along with resourceful tools to help guide employee behavior can be the winning formula to help you get ahead of skyrocketing corporate travel costs.

What are some of the ways you've saved on T&E expenses? Share your thoughts here.