Travel is a crucial element of success for businesses in many industries. In almost every sector, you’ll need to go on trips to meet investors, suppliers, potential partners or some other party that’s necessary to your business model.
Business travel can take up a large chunk of your time and budget — up to 31 percent of the budget for larger companies, according to this JP Morgan report, so you should constantly be looking for ways to save money and time. Here are a few ways you can just that:
1. Work with an agency.
Most people believe that you have to be a giant multinational before you’re able to enter into a partnership with a travel agency, and that used to be the case in the past. Nowadays though, there are many middle-market agencies that are happy to enter into a partnership with smaller companies.
You might not get as much of a cut as the big multinationals do, but if you conduct thorough research, you’ll certainly find a deal that’ll get you savings on hotel and airline costs at least. When you put all the savings together over the long-term, it should certainly be a significant chunk, allowing you to plow your funds to other crucial areas of your company’s operations.
2. Have a clear policy.
Having a corporate travel policy is another thing that many people think is the preserve of big companies. On the contrary though, getting a comprehensive policy in place to guide team members will make things much more efficient for even small companies.
Guidelines on getting approvals, bookings and extra expenses will shave time off making fresh regulations for each trip or having to sort things out afterward. One crucial thing you’ll need to keep in mind when coming up with the policy, however, is that the more inclusive and consensus-driven it is, the more likely it is to work effectively. Engage your staff, hear their opinions on the issues, and use those insights to draw up a policy document that they’ll all find it easy to get behind.
3. Plan well ahead.
There are several ways your business can benefit from long-term, strategic planning. Firstly, having a company-wide calendar with all planned trips will help you save money since you’ll be able to see the big picture of where and when your team needs to be represented. You can use that information to consolidate your trips whenever it’s possible by sending a single person to multiple meetings or by scheduling meetings close to one another to cut down the number of flights.
The travel industry itself is being transformed by big-data processing and analysis via datacenter solutions like Viderium, in terms of IOT (Internet of Things) integration and improved customer service. If your company does a lot of travel, and you take a cue from that and spend some time analyzing price, traffic and other trends, you’ll be able to make better calls that’ll help to save money.
4. Explore alternatives.
There are certainly some trips that force you to use certain airports, but did you know that flights to regional airports usually cost much less? Apart from that, you’ll save time since there’ll be shorter lines and even cut down on transportation costs to and from the airport.
Apart from airports, being willing to go off the beaten path when it comes to accommodation can also yield significant savings. Although there can be benefits in staying in the most highbrow areas and popular hotels, there’s really no much point if you’re not going to be doing business in those particular locations. Another factor to consider is that it’s often easier for smaller companies to arrange deals with comparatively-sized hotels than the biggest ones, so you can save money that way too.
In all, the importance of getting your startup’s travel expenses under control cannot be overstated. If you don’t sort it out, it could become a big drain on not just your bottom line but also on the overall efficiency of the organization. With the four tips above, you’ll be well on your way to getting a system in place that’ll save you money and time while ensuring that you don’t miss out on any important meetings.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com
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