Even though business travelers often enjoy reduced “business rates” on airfares and accommodations, business travel can still take a hefty toll on a company’s bottom line.
Although more and more business is being conducted long distance, there are times when face-to-face meetings with clients, prospects, vendors and employees are necessary. Here are five ways to help you control your business’ travel-related expenses.
Determine the Potential ROI
Before going through the hassle and expense of traveling to meet with clients, vendors, prospects or remote employees; do the math. Ask yourself if the trip makes financial sense and be sure to include all associated costs.
For example; before sending your top closer on a cross-country trip to finalize a sale, ask yourself whether the sale could be closed over the phone or via Web conference. Consider the total cost of the trip including airfare, taxis or rental cars, food, lodging, and service fees. Don’t forget to include the wages you’ll be paying your employee while en-route to and from the meeting.
Have a Firm Travel Policy and Enforce It
Most businesses provide company credit cards to employees who travel frequently. Many also offer cash per diem to cover miscellaneous expenses.
Make sure your company’s per diem allowance in line with reasonable miscellaneous expenses. Employees will typically inform you if their per diem allowance is too low but they may not let you know if the allowance exceeds their needs.
What about frequent flyer miles? Are your employees able to pocket these perks and apply them to their personal travel? Unaccounted-for expenses like these can negatively impact on your company’s bottom line over time.
Plan Ahead and Book in Advance
Don’t wait until the last minute to confirm your travel plans. Booking flights, hotel accommodations and rental cars 14 to 21 days in advance can shave hundreds or even thousands of dollars off your business travel expenses.
Planning ahead will give you time to shop around for the best deal available. In some cases, it might make sense to reschedule an upcoming meeting in order to take advantage of a promotional offer. The more lead time you give yourself, the greater the potential savings.
If you or your employees travel frequently, rewards cards are a great way to earn travel discounts as well as discounts on a variety of office products and business-related services. Be sure to compare benefits and interest rates when choosing your card and make sure you understand the terms and conditions for redeeming rewards.
Many airlines, hotels, rental car companies and travel-related Web sites also have travel clubs. For frequent business travelers, the cost of membership can often be recouped over the course of just a few trips.
Finally, be sure you maintain accurate, detailed records of your business-related travel expenses and hold on to your receipts for tax time.