For many companies, employee travel is an absolute necessity. But as always travel costs are rising, mostly in the form of creative new fees. (Have you heard that some airlines are starting to charge for carry-on bags? Soon, you’ll need to buy an extra seat if you want to take a change of clothes!) Businesses want to save money on employee travel, but they need to be smart about where to make the pinch. Here are 10 tips for reducing employee travel costs, without ticking off your employees.
1. Encourage same-day travel
When possible, encourage employees to travel there and back on the same day, rather than springing for hotel costs. Travel time of up to about 2 hours each way is just like a really long commute. Even if it can make for a longer day, many employees may prefer getting back to their family over spending a night away from home.
2. Book air travel for off-days and off-times
The cheapest airfares are usually available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Also, avoid peak travel times – while red-eyes aren’t great for employee productivity, rush-hour flights can be double the price or more of off-peak fares.
3. Get the best hotel rates
Hotel costs can add up quickly, but there are many ways for businesses to keep these expenses down. Check out our 13 Hotel Booking Hacks for Business Travelers, and make sure you aren’t making these 5 Hotel Booking Mistakes. Book through Hotel Engine to ensure you are getting the best rates available.
4. Have employees share vehicles, but not hotel rooms
Rental cars, airport shuttles, taxis—all of these things can be shared. But don’t make your employees share a hotel room. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
5. Don’t underestimate the importance of loyalty
Airlines, hotels, and even many restaurants are in hot competition for your business travel dollars. Using the same airline and hotel chain for as much travel as possible will earn your employees free flights, nights, and other perks that can save you money.
6. Re-evaluate your per diems
If your employees will be traveling to a conference or other event where some meals will be provided, adjust their per diems down accordingly. Also, ensure that the per diem is valued appropriately for the location.
7. Make sure that any applicable refunds are collected
If your employees end up not using one of their flight segments or not staying in a hotel as long as planned, make sure you get the refunds you are entitled to. You can save a significant amount of money just by only paying for the travel services you actually use.
8. Use the same business credit card for all purchases
Many credit cards offer travel perks, and if your employees travel a lot these can really add up. For example, the savings on rental car insurance available on some Gold and Platinum Visas and Mastercards can make a huge difference on travel expense reports.
9. Have a clear written policy for reimbursements
Make sure your company travel policy clearly states what is and is not eligible for reimbursement, and don’t reimburse for expenses that fall outside of the policy. This isn’t harsh, it’s just a practical way for you better predict and control how much you will have to shell out at the end of a trip.
10. Give your employees what they need to be productive on the road
Ensuring your employees have everything they need to be productive on the road (mobile devices, portable wi-fi hotspots, productivity apps, access to essential documents, etc.) won’t directly save you money on travel, but it will mean that those hours spent traveling aren’t a total wash in terms of getting things done.
Saving money on travel starts with proper planning. Have your employees join Hotel Engine today. Not only will they get the best hotel rates available, but they will also receive a reward bonus just for signing up.
Featured image by RadekS [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Common