Business travel is an inevitable part of company life. Whether you’re a large or small business, most companies will have to send employees around the world for meetings, research and business development at some point.
Whilst there are real tangible benefits to business travel, there are also downsides, not least of which are the time and money spent getting from place to place. Sending an employee out of the office for days at a time – sometimes to complete just a few hours of work – is not terribly time or financially efficient.
So, how do we simultaneously build up face-to-face connections with clients and keep business travel costs to a minimum? Here are a number of money saving tips and simple travel hacks that can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to efficient business travel.
Book in advance
In order to travel in a cost effective way, make sure you plan your trips in advance. Booking last minute often leaves you with highly expensive travel and accommodation. Being organised gives you far more options in terms of choice of hotels, as the best value ones always get booked up quickly. With trains and flights, the cheaper seats get sold off first – again, planning ahead increases the range of reasonably priced tickets available.
Ensure employees know their expenses budget
Setting an expenses budget is great way for employees to know what to expect from their trip: should they be entertaining, socialising and networking, or are they expected to go to one meeting and do their own thing in the evening? If there are daily budgets in place, employees will know how much they can claim and are less likely to overspend.
Hire a car if it’s cheaper than the taxi
Rather than expecting your employees to get taxis everywhere, book them a good value hire car. Make sure you’re getting the best deal possible by booking through a comparison site, such as easyCar.com. Car hire itself can be a bit of a minefield, so these tips on how to get the best value are worth checking out. This mode of transport works particularly well if colleagues are travelling in small groups or visiting multiple locations during the trip. On that note, if you are sending your employees away in a group, you will find most travel and accommodation is cheaper in bulk.
Be a loyal customer to receive discounts
Where possible, use the same hotel chains to build a mutually beneficial relationship – if you reuse them they might be inclined to give you a corporate discount. This applies to flights, trains and car hire as well. It is also worth looking at money saving sites to see if any hotels have special offers
Choose the most efficient way to travel
There are a lot of different ways to travel: from planes and trains, to boats and cars. Finding the most efficient mode of transport may take a little investigation work, and it may not be the most obvious one which saves you money. In addition, it is often cheaper to stay in destinations outside of the centre of major cities, although some European cities prove quite good value.
Before your trip, make sure goals are prioritised well in advance; you can even do this on the road! This will ensure that meetings will run quickly and efficiently. When out and about, keeping in contact with the office can be tricky, so try to schedule designated time to catch up on communication such as checking emails, listening to voicemails and making calls. Additionally, ensure that those who do similar jobs are not all out at the same time. Just because some members of the team are away, this does not mean that business as usual in the office comes to a halt.
Pack light and experience lots
How you pack can impact your entire trip. If you pack lightly, it means you have fewer things to keep track of. It also keeps you more mobile and can save you forking out on baggage fees. The opposite is true with work: squeeze in as much as you possibly can. If you’re in an area where multiple clients are based, try and fit in a visit – even if it’s just a cup of coffee. If you find yourself with spare time, try and take in as many sights as you can and share it on your company’s social media (and your own!).