Reinforce cost-effective strategies from your employees
Every time your staff makes a wise choice in corporate travel planning, it can be helpful to reward this behavior so it will be replicated the next time around. This can be done in the form of recognition or special prizes. Rewarding your employees can help them stay motivated in keeping budget limits at bay.
What are some examples of rewarding employees?
Upgrading their work space or equipment: Reinforcing good decisions of employees can be done by providing them the best tools to help them succeed in their work.
Say “thank you”: Sometimes, even a simple thank you can make an employee’s day. When you start a culture of gratitude, you can ensure unity in your team to help achieve corporate travel agenda.
Hold a simple celebration: It doesn’t have to be a fancy party to honor your team. It can even just be treating them to a simple lunch or holding a “lunch break party” to help acknowledge a member who did the right decision during a corporate travel.
Reward your employees publicly: Reprimands should be done in private, while rewards should be done in public. Presenting a certificate, a plaque, or any other form of incentive can help your employees feel motivated to do their best in corporate travel decision-making.
Corporate travel planning does not have to be stressful. By keeping these strategies in mind, you will have a productive yet cost-effective trip for your company.
Sign up for travel services or group promotions
Some travel companies offer promotions for people going in groups. If you are planning for a corporate outing, there is room discount available in some resorts that are geared for such types of events. Travel service companies also have affiliations with hotels, restaurants, stores, and attractions that can help you save more money rather than booking independently. You may want to consider this as an option if you're traveling as a large group.
Here are some characteristics of a good travel agency:
Accreditation: Some high-quality travel agencies are accredited by the department of foreign affairs or small business associations of specific locations. Since most travel agency arrangements are now done online, knowing that a company is accredited can help you feel assured with where you’re money is going.
Able to prepare a quotation: Travel agencies who take your business seriously can prepare a quotation of your itinerary even without commitments. It also gives you an idea of how knowledgeable they are about the location as well as their ability to get discounts from affiliates to make the best deals for your trip.
Prompt communication: Shady travel agencies usually respond sparingly and are difficult to talk to once you have settled your payment. A good sign that you’re in great hands is when travel agents are willing to communicate with you to answer any questions you may have.
Realistic prices: Suspicious travel agencies will offer ridiculously low prices to attract new clients. However, be wary of this scheme as you may end up losing hard-earned money. Find a travel agency that has realistic and competitive prices. This means that they offer prices based on the market average and they are transparent about all the charges in their quotation.
Years in the business: A travel agency that has been in the business for more than just a couple of years may be the best choice if you’re going to a new location. Years of experience means they can already anticipate potential problems and know how to give you the best experience.
Find ways for your employees to be productive during travel
This may not be directly related to saving money on corporate travel, but it can help you increase your employees' output during their trip. Increased productivity during travel can help you save money as idleness may sometimes result in unnecessary expenses.
Some companies incorporate a software tool that integrates the travel schedule from the main database to their employees' smartphones. Another traditional way to do this is to have an agenda for the day and ask for output at a specific deadline. This way, your travels will be more purposeful and drive positive results.
Below are some ways you can keep your employees productive during travel:
Create a list of things to do: You can keep track of travel objectives by making a daily or weekly to-do list. These can be considered as short-term goals for the whole agenda of your travel. Creating a list keeps you away from distractions and reminds you of the small details that you may forget during the course of your trip.
Complete low-effort tasks in public places: There may be some things in your daily to-do list that do not require much physical or mental energy. These can include replying to emails, posting on social media, or making a quick edit of a document. Such tasks can be done in public places which free up your time for other tasks that require more energy.
Always keep track of time: You make a daily schedule along with your to-do list or set an alarm on your device. If you have a meeting that needs to be concise, set a timer to help your team discuss the essential topics.
Stay focused: You can try productivity techniques such as Pomodoro timers, batch work, or going to a remote location to stay focused on the tasks needed to be done for the day. During major events, you can ask your team to turn of their devices unless it is needed for communication.
Be specific with your output: When creating daily goals, be specific on the type of output you want to make. Use the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) technique to make daily goals for your team.
Consider miscellaneous travel charges
Some things that company owners and managers often overlook are the miscellaneous travel expenses that come as a price of convenience. For example, WiFi on the plane, in-flight meals, or hotel buffet breakfasts can be a costly addition in your corporate travel.
It is important to consider these 'surprise' travel expenses and ask your staff if they would really need it. Otherwise, it is best to cross it off your budget allocation list.
Aside from those previously mentioned, some common ‘hidden’ travel charges include the following:
Checked baggage fees: Some airlines have a free checked baggage promo limited to 1-2 bags. However, these expenses may incur if you go above the limit. Make sure to remind your employees that checked baggage must be only within the free limit to avoid this expense.
Airline seat selection: If you feel like sitting beside your whole team isn’t necessary for the trip, then you can choose to opt out of this feature. Some airlines will charge as much as $80 just to have a customized seat plan. Skip this if you would rather spend on other things such as in-flight WiFi, or a better accommodation.
Taxes: There are some travel deals with all-inclusive fees. However, some offers may seem like a good deal until you discover that tax isn’t included yet. Thus, you need to set an allowance for possible taxes on lodging, food, and transportation.
Resort or environmental fees: In some countries or natural preserve locations, the government imposes fees for visitors to help in the maintenance. These fees are usually charged per person. Although relatively cheap for the most part, it can be a significant amount if you’re traveling as a big group.
Car rental insurance: Public transportation may be out of the picture in your corporate travel, but car rental is something you would consider. Do not forget that there may be car rental insurance charges which are mandatory for some companies. Explore your options on the car rental service that could lower the cost of this insurance.
Don't forget to plan your trip ahead of time
There's a saying that goes: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail! This is applicable for setting a cost-effective corporate travel itinerary. Planning ahead covers most of the topics mentioned above. It can help you choose the right timing to book flights, get hotel deals, and also save enough money for the trip budget.
Last-minute bookings are often expensive because hotels and airline companies know that this is an urgent need. They understand that even if they hike up the prices, people would still be booking because of a need.
What are some things to help in researching for your upcoming corporate travel?
WikiTravel Articles: WikiTravel articles are comprehensive posts about common travel places. The most crucial information that you can find in these articles are safety tips and local recommendations. You should also confirm with your destination contacts as some information may be outdated.
Posts by travel bloggers: If you’re still on the fence about picking a destination for your corporate travel, travel bloggers can help make a more concrete decision. You can read their blog posts on ideal itineraries, what to expect, and other tips for business travelers.
Watch Youtube videos: It may be difficult to visualize a venue when you haven’t been to it in the first place. Some Youtubers post walkthroughs or travel vlogs that helps viewers have an idea of what to expect on a certain location. Like blogs, they also provide useful tips on travel safety and other things to know.
Reddit: Some articles or videos may be promotional in nature, so you want an honest response. By going to Reddit, you may be able to find a community of people who have been in your target destination. They can provide an objective feedback if what you’re planning for the corporate travel is an ideal choice.
Local news sources: Local news sources can be a great tool for you to find on-the-date events on the area. Often, these events are hard to find in articles online, so being updated with the happenings in your destination can give you an idea of places to go to.
Provide a general budget for the trip but allow your employees to decide
Another strategy that can be useful for saving in corporate travel is setting a ceiling limit for food, transportation and activities. This is called the general budget for corporate travel. After this, you can let your employees decide how they can use this budget.
Many of them would be happy to work around your limit and find budget-friendly options, making you save even more. This is a win-win situation since your employees can get their top choices, while you are comfortable with the limit you have set.
Below are the key things you need to consider for the corporate travel budget, which you can let your employees decide to work around on:
Major transportation: This involves the departure and arrival flights, as well as group transportation in various vehicles. Many companies will offer group discounts for companies.
Other transportation: Other types of transportation may be individual taxi rides, Ubers, trains, subways, and other means of transportation which may still need to be accounted for. Set a price range for this item in the budget, and your employees will find ways to go around at cheaper prices.
Accommodation: As previously mentioned, your employees may be more travel-savvy and can find great deals for high-quality hotel and lodging. Set a budget limit and see the kinds of hotel options they can find for your travel plans.
Food: You don’t have to keep on spending for room service or hotel restaurants all the time. Your employees may find budget deals on restaurants that locals love. They can be incredibly cheap, yet a delicious feast for the rest of your team.
Activities: You can spearhead the main activities or business-related agenda for your corporate travel, but your employees can decide ahead what activities they want to do for leisurely purposes. They may just want something simple like visit a park, a national museum, or head to the local attractions. Simply set a budget for this item, divided in two areas--business-related and leisure.
Find more affordable hotel options
One of the largest chunks of spending on corporate travel are hotels and lodging. As a savvy manager or business owner, it can be wise to include policies for accommodations such as a budget limit or a star rating.
This way, your staff can work around the budget for the best value of the hotel, or they can find discounts. It is interesting that some hotels have promotions on various websites where the same room can be availed for large discounts. There are also hotel comparison websites that can help you get this sorted out.
What should you look for in an ideal hotel for corporate travel?
In-room WiFi: Your employees shouldn’t have to go down in the lobby to have access to the internet. In-room WiFi is a convenient option for them to finish their work while resting in their respective rooms. This will also be convenient for the rest of your traveling group if they decide to communicate with each other through the internet (Skype calls, Viber, Messenger, or email).
Work desk and office chair: This will help your team separate their space for resting, grooming, and working. If you have a long-term corporate travel, this is essential for productivity purposes. You cannot expect your team to work efficiently while staying in bed or if the work areas in the hotel are limited.
Accessible outlets: Along with internet and work space, outlets are also essential for your employees to charge their devices. These outlets must be accessible such as located by the lamp, close to the desk, or by the bed.
Business center amenity: This may also be necessary if your team needs to print documents or other office-related tasks. Having an open business center 24 hours a day and 7 days a week with reliable internet access, computer with office tools, and other business amenities can greatly help in unexpected events.
Location: It may seem commonsensical, but the location is something to consider when picking an ideal hotel for corporate travel. If you have an event in another venue where you need to be early, it is best to book a hotel close to that venue. It can be a challenge to go early as a group so having an allowance time is essential.
Strategize purchases on airline flights
A frequent traveler tip is to watch out for budget flights. Sure, it can be convenient to have a business class for every travel, but you may need to assess if this is actually a need rather than a luxury. For most corporate travel, the main objective of using flights is to get from point A to point B. This means that you can opt for economy class especially if you're going in large groups.
If scheduling is not an issue, there are strategies that you can do in booking and timing your flights. Many fare experts claim that it is best to shop on a Tuesday after holidays. You can also choose to use fare comparison websites to help you get the best deal.
Here are some tips on getting the most affordable flights:
Book early, but not too early: Flight prices increase within 3 weeks of the departure date. To make sure that you get the best deal for your flights, book from 1-3 months of your corporate travel departure. You can use apps such as Google Flights or Kayak to help in determining the right time to book flights, but be informed that this may not be accurate all the time. Just make sure that you are booking within the right time frame by planning ahead for a couple of months.
Set price alerts: To get the best deals, you can download apps that keeps you informed about the price changes over time. Ticket prices may change daily, depending on supply and demand within that timeline, airline, or specific destination. Having price alerts turned on can help you save a few hundred dollars, which can be a lot when you are booking for a big group.
Book connecting flights: Connecting flights with long layovers are noticeably cheaper than direct ones. If you don’t have an urgent schedule set in the early days of your corporate travel, you may consider having flights that are connected to other airlines. This can also save a few hundred dollars.
Use award miles: If you have a loyalty membership on a specific airline, you can save a lot by using award miles. Award miles are usually given for frequent bookings. These free miles can be redeemed on your next purchase.
Have a stringent trip approval process
Some companies end up losing money on corporate travel because of verbal agreements without details about a trip. To avoid this problem, you must have a stringent trip approval process. This can help increase your corporate travel savings. When everything is put on paper and you can see each detail of the trip, every dollar is accounted for which can help you on your budget.
Here are some things to be clear on when deciding to approve a corporate travel event:
Purpose of the travel: First and foremost, you must consider the purpose of the travel. It could be either for the company’s growth or the wellness of your employees. When presenting a proposal, the parties involved must make sure that the objectives of the travel event is clearly stated.
Budget: The budget can be presented clearly through the use of a table with itemized expenses and total amount. To also have a clearer picture of the budget, you can also ask how much the budget would cost per person. You company travel policies will serve as a guide to help employees work on an itinerary within your budget range.
Event date: Event dates are also essential to make sure that they don’t stand in conflict with other plans within your schedule. If you must be a participant in the corporate travel, this can help you plan in advance for a schedule.
Venue: The venue is also something crucial for the logistics of your corporate travel. It will affect the budget, means of travel, as well as you and your employee’s overall experience.
Additionally, it also helps for employees to sign a waiver on the liabilities in case an accident or any other personal damage happens during this corporate travel. The proposal along with the waiver must be signed by them and by the administration to determine an approval. Although your employees have their health insurance, it can also protect your business from unforeseen circumstances.
Improve your policies on corporate travel
Every company has their corporate travel policy. Lower management might send proposals and they must work within the guidelines you may have provided about the following areas: transportation, meal allowances, and itinerary expenses. Having a better policy in your corporate travel can save you money.
One of the ways to do this is setting budget limits in your business' travel expenses. For example, you may set a budget for lodging, meals, and activities done by your employees. Any activity outside the agenda of the corporate travel should be considered an out-of-pocket cost, and all receipts should be reported for reimbursement if this has to do with business affairs.
Now, how do you create a new company policy? It is important to let this information be disseminated with your key stakeholders first. The next step is to let your employees know that you will be changing the travel policies within your company.
Some helpful ways to help in improving your current travel policy:
Have clearly worded content: Make sure to use the correct wording such as “always”, “never”, or “case-to-case” basis. Leave no room for confusion about the policy content to prevent loopholes or unwanted justifications from your employees.
Determine what is guaranteed and what it not: When creating new travel policies, state which items are guaranteed coverage and those which will be shouldered by employees. For example, flight expenses and lodging will clearly be covered, while food only has a certain budget. Anything above that must be considered an out-of-pocket expense by the employee.
Indicate who will be affected by the policies: Another point of confusion in creating a new policy is when employees do not know who are affected by the new rules. Thus, it is important to indicate whom the new rules apply to gain clarity for all your company departments.
Place an effective date: It is good to give a little allowance on when you will be implementing the new policy. This is because you don’t want to avoid conflict when there is an ongoing corporate travel event while tackling this endeavor. An effective date such as the following two weeks up to a month is ideal to help your employees get ready for the changes.
As a manager or a business owner, it may be necessary to have out-of-state or international travel expenses to keep your company up and running. Corporate travel is essential to hold meetings with suppliers, to meet clients, and to find new ideas and resources.