How to make
savings with confidence
These days it’s hard to read a headline without hearing about a change in border restrictions or local lockdowns, both at home and around the world. And whilst it’s not all doom and gloom (we’re looking at you, China, with your impressive return to domestic travel), one thing is for certain: Covid-19 is not going away overnight. Add to this a ‘no-deal’ Brexit around the corner and the challenges of simply keeping afloat in the current economic climate, and the chances are you’re feeling pretty uncertain about what the future folds.
Given this uncertainty, many businesses are now under more pressure than ever before to tighten the purse strings. But whilst cost savings are necessary, the savviest companies will be reviewing their books through a longer-term lens and asking themselves: will this cutback impact our ability to get back to business and grow?
The case for business travel: why you still need it
Whilst travel budgets are one of the easiest areas to cut, removing it completely won’t necessarily be the best outcome for your business. And yes, we hear you: that’s exactly what a travel management company would say. But tell us we’re wrong to our face and we’ll believe you. Why? Because face-to-face communication is so much more powerful.
When it comes to business growth, nurturing relationships and fostering new ones, there simply isn’t any alternative more powerful than standing in front of somebody face-to-face. In-person conversations lower the risk of miscommunication, make it easier to creative that all-important great first impression, and boost the chances of closing a deal.
Put simply, technology can’t replace the human connection when it comes to fostering business growth. So, if your travel budget is to be saved from the chopping block, how can you manage it more effectively and make your it work as hard as possible? In short, how can you make sure your savings are smart, not cheap?
1. Know when to book
We’ll kick off with an oldie but a goodie. Simply knowing the best time to book can have a huge impact on your travel costs. As a rule of thumb: last-minute business trips are generally not the best idea. Not only can scrambling to put plans together leave room for error and put the business traveller’s safety at risk, it’s also certain to result in the accumulation of excess costs.
In fact, business travellers can expect to fork out up to 200% more for airfares purchased one day out from travel. On the other hand, just by booking flights in advance, companies can save up to 21% of their travel spend. It’s a no brainer.
2. Don’t try to cut corners
This might sound counterproductive to cutting costs, but the reality is that looking for the cheapest deals for all aspects of a trip could end up costing you more money in the long run – now more than ever. It’s often the smaller expenses that make all the difference to the cost of a trip. From early check-in to parking or taxi fares, re-look at your budget and you will probably come to find that these expenses add up so quickly that they often represent a huge chunk of the cost of corporate travel as a whole.
Instead, focus on trying find the hidden value-adds. For example, rather than booking a cheap hotel on the outskirts of town and paying stacks of money for transport into the city centre, give your travellers a stress-free trip without compromising your bottom line by booking a conveniently-located, SmartSTAY hotel with complimentary inclusions such as a breakfast or room upgrades. Our SmartSTAY rates are special rates offered by our preferred hotel partners that offer you the best-in-market rate, along with three unique benefits for every traveller such as free parking and Wi-Fi.
3. Stay as flexible as possible
With ever-changing travel bans and new border restrictions, or changing personal needs of your travellers, it’s never been more important to keep your plans flexible. So before you click ‘buy’ on the cheapest, non-refundable plane ticket (we see you – put the mouse down!) consider the likelihood of your plans changing, how much flexibility you need and the costs involved if plans do change. Last-minute changes can add up very quickly if your bookings don’t have any flexibility built in. We’ve rounded up some of the most flexible airlines here to help you plan your next business trip with peace of mind.
4. Stop ‘rogue’ bookings in their tracks
When it comes to travel budget management, it’s far easier to keep track and maintain control when you have accurate and up-to-date data. When employees book travel on their own, these costs are often invisible until they submit expenses on their return – potentially throwing your budget off track and making it harder to spot any savings opportunities. By having a good travel policy – or an interim policy if you’re travelling right now – that’s followed by your employees you’ll be able to set spend limits for each type of travel, gain valuable booking behaviour data and have a tighter grip over your travel budget. You’ll also be able to better support your employees’ duty of care, and you can’t say fairer than that.
5. Work with travel experts
As business travel experts, we’re constantly searching for (and finding) ways to save you money on your business trips, whether that’s leveraging our relationships with certain airlines to reduce fares, or spotting a way to get you a room upgrade without the extra cost. And that’s not us tooting our own horn: any TMC (travel management company) worth their salt will help you save time and money through various partnerships with travel suppliers.
As part of a global travel company, we have unique partnerships and agreements with airlines and hotels all over the world. This means we often have access to fares and room rates that simply aren’t available to the general public. Want to know more? Find out all the ways Flight Centre Business Travel can save you money when booking your business travel.
The bottom line when it comes to nurturing your company’s bottom line is that not all cost-savings are equal. Forward-thinking, risk management, strategic planning, and a bit of a helping hand in the form of a trustworthy TMC are all crucial to making those all-important ‘smart savings’. So if you’ve saved your travel budget from the chopping block, now is the time to put these learnings into practice and make your travel budget work as hard as it can, so your business can reap the rewards in the long run.