Being responsible for booking all the corporate travel at your job can be overwhelming. There is so much effort that goes into planning a trip, and having to stay under the company’s travel budget does not make accomplishing your task any easier. In fact, that probably makes the entire process more time-consuming, especially since travel is so expensive and the chances of finding a good deal is the same as winning the lottery – slim to none. Although you do not have control over who spends how much during the actual trip, there are a few ways to avoid going over the travel budget while scheduling all the travel arrangements, making the process less of a struggle and leaving you to turn your attention back to your offer administrative duties.
Here are 6 ways you can plan an awesome business trip without breaking the company’s bank.
1. Is that really needed?
Take into account every aspect of the trip, such as how long it will be and the location. If the trip is only going to be a few days in an urban area, there really is not a reason to rent a car because everything is in walking distance and there is plenty of public transportation. Additionally, cities usually offer visitor passes for public transportation, so you should research what options they have.
If your colleagues are traveling to New York City, for instance, look into getting 7-day MetroCards. This strategy results in lower transportation costs and it is more convenient than paying every time your colleagues need to use a subway or train. There are even passes available in other cities that allow 1-day or 3-day passes, such as San Francisco’s public transportation system in which you can purchase a 1-day pass for $17 or a 3-day pass for $26. A 1-day pass would be ideal for a day trip that is going to require going to multiple locations within the city.
2. Expense reports reveal all
Staying up-to-date on all travel expenses is the best way to find out why certain trips ended up going over the travel budget and where to cut costs for the future. Make sure you and your colleagues save every receipt and travel document. The easiest way to execute this plan is to organize as you go. Date every document and put them all in the same place, so you know when you confirmed a flight, how much money it costs and where the confirmation document is. Rather than scrambling to calculate the amount of money spent on a trip once all is said and done, start recording expenses from the moment the corporate travel planning process begins. Add the numbers as you go, so you know if you are on track or if costs need to be cut somewhere. Additionally, if they do not already, have your colleagues fill out a travel expense report that tells you the amount of money they spent on a trip and what they spent that money on. Expense software companies, such as Certify, are also useful because they offer mobile expense report tools, which make tracking expenses quicker and easier.
3. Time is money
When travel is booked contributes to the price. The Wall Street Journal reported on a study done by Airlines Reporting Corporation from 2013 to 2014. According to that study, the best time to book an international flight is 171 days beforehand while the best time to book a domestic flight is 57 days beforehand. So if you look at airfares for a business trip that is going to take place in three weeks, the price is going to be significantly higher than the prices available a month ago. Sometimes corporate travel is last-minute, so the price is out of your control. However, if you know about an upcoming trip a few months from now, consider looking into airline tickets right away. And according to Business Travel News, the average cost per day in the United States for a corporate business trip is $292.80. These 2014 statistics were determined from 100 U.S. cities. So, anywhere you can save money when planning a trip would be immensely beneficial to the company.
4. Motivate savings
If colleagues are not encouraged to save, they may not put as much effort into managing their travel finances. RockeTrip helps employees stay under their travel budget by providing them with a concise travel policy and keeps track of how much they are spending. It is the new travel expense report.
RockeTrip claims they can decrease the amount of money spent on corporate travel by 30%. What makes this platform stand out from the rest is that employees are able to keep half of what they do not spend, which can definitely encourage them to try and save as much money as possible while on the road.
Everyone already knows that there are thousands apps available for smartphones users. Literally. Thousands upon thousands. So of course, a number of those apps can assist both travelers and corporate travel planners. For instance, tell your colleagues to look for an app – like Gas Guru – that locates the nearest gas station with the cheapest price. This is a small, but effective, way for travelers to save money if they are driving a rental car. Another great app that can help you when scheduling a trip is TripIt, which organizes all your travel documents and confirmations so they are all in the same place. It also informs you of canceled and alternative flights. Even if you print out every document, TripIt can come in handy if a file gets lost.
6. No disorganization or procrastination
As expressed above, it is important to stay organized when arranging a business trip because there are so many tasks to complete. Figuring out how you can be the most organized is vital because it affects how productive you are. Besides using different apps, try listing all the corporate trips that are going to take place within the next year at the company and when you should begin making plans. This way, you will be on a schedule and know what you should be planning next. Maybe on one day you can look into flights, another day hotels and so on. Keeping yourself organized forces you to plan ahead. This idea goes hand in hand with overseeing travel expenses; organize as you go. You'll be sure to stay under your travel budget.