In The Trenches: Sourcing Business Travel

Travel Category Procurement Services

by Jennifer Ulrich, Senior Project Manager

Many companies in today’s technology driven market have seen a significant decline in travel expenses than in the past. We are far beyond the days of the traveling salesmen going door-to-door to greet new clientele and have that one-on-one lunch to catch up with old clients. Most of us work remotely from our offices and many of us do not even need to leave our homes to “go to work” these days. The advantage to this change in traffic is reduced travel and related expenses to the individual worker as well as the company.  Despite these changes, business travel is still a big part of many people’s daily lives. The following article provides some insight into how companies go about reducing these expenses.

  One thing to keep in mind is that no matter how big or small the company is, a travel program can be beneficial regardless of size. If travel is a significant part of a company’s spend, having a travel program is important to ensure streamlined costs as well as efficient processes for those involved. Depending on the level and type of travel, these programs can include rental car programs, hotel accommodations, air travel, and more. If the company does not have a travel program in place, however, the following tips can be helpful for booking business travel.

  • Look for corporate discounts. This can be done most effectively by picking up the phone and calling the airline, rental car company, hotel, etc. directly and seeing what they have to offer that would suit your specific needs. The size of your company and number of people traveling does not make a difference when accessing corporate discounts so taking advantage of them is very easy.
  • Rewards, rewards, rewards. So many businesses offer rewards programs nowadays, from your local grocer to gas stations to airlines and hotels. Encourage your employees to set up rewards accounts with the airlines, hotels, etc. they use the most and try to use those designated companies every time. Rewards like free hotel stays and frequent flyer programs will add up and all you need to do is continue traveling as you always have. This is what we call a “no-brainer” in the industry.
  • Research and track booking trends. Every time someone in the company books a flight or hotel room, harvest their data. Tracking things like site used, airline or hotel used, length of time between booking and scheduled date, and price paid, when compiled over time, produce usable trends and data for securing the best deals going forward.
  • Think outside the box. Do not rely solely on the typical travel search engines. They often leave out certain flights and airports. Consider looking at some smaller sites. Another disadvantage to our technology driven nature is that many people take on travel research and booking themselves. Talking to travel agents, those who are especially trained to handle this stuff, can have a big impact on your travel budget.
  • Consider all modes of travel. Simply considering all of your options including trains, driving the whole way, and even the bus can certainly save on travel, if you are willing to relinquish some of the comforts of travel that is. Also be sure to consider regional airports as opposed to the larger hubs, this can save on time and money.

In addition to the above tips it is important to ensure that your staff is educated on what programs are in place. If there are no programs set up business travel best practices that everyone should adhere to. Travel expenses can be a significant part of the budget but through greater transparency and compliance they can be one of the most manageable aspects of the budget as well.

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