Traveling is one thing every business has to do. Whether you’re meeting with collaborators, attending trade shows, or sponsoring employee training programs, you’ll almost inevitably fund a business trip at some point.
How can you ensure you don’t spend too much on these trips? There are no beating business travels. You have to do it. However, there has to be a way to tone down the costs as much as possible.
Luckily, we’ve got some tips to help you below.
- Conduct a comprehensive travel audit
Traveling entails a lot of things. There’s the flight part, accommodation, feeding, logistics, and other on-site expenditure. Before you say you want to cut down on corporate trip costs, you must first understand which part is eating deep into your budget.
Is its accommodation? Is it transportation? Is it feeding?
If first, you can encourage employees to stay in shared apartments rather than lodging in separate rooms. If the second, you can encourage them to use public transportation more often instead of always jumping cabs and taxis. If feeding, you may hire a chef to travel with the team, eliminating the need to eat at highly-priced restaurants.
But first, you need to understand which part is doing the damage. If you can’t identify the part yourself, have a member of staff or anyone amongst the traveling party conduct a simple observatory survey.
- Incentivize employees
When traveling involves employees (like many of them), expenses can run up pretty quickly. And if care is not taken, a company can spend beyond its budget.
To prevent this, you need a plan to hack down on costs before anyone sets out. So, here’s an idea.
Involve your employees in the cost-cutting procedure. That is, charge them with spending less.
How? Someone quips. “Do you spell out how much they mustn’t exceed? If you do, that might affect their productivity.”
Nobody said anything about spelling out how much they can and cannot spend.
There’s a much better approach. And that approach involves incentivizing them. Tell them there will be a reward for every employee that spends less during the trip. For example, you could put a ‘travel cost program’ that rewards employees with up to 30% of any savings they generate from their travels.
You see now; you have to be smart.
- Hack down on visa costs
Visas as we know them are generally expensive. While they might cost a few hundred dollars for an individual, the cost quickly runs high when applying for multiple individuals. And unless you’re making a same-country trip, you’ll likely need to apply for visas for the traveling party. Meaning, you’ll spend a lot in this area.
For example, if you’re traveling to a place like the United States for business meetings, you’ll need a B-1 visa. This visa, which allows you to visit the US temporarily for business activities such as meetings, costs $160 to process. Imagine your traveling party features 15 staff members; that’s a whopping $2,400 spent on just visa applications.
Luckily, there are two ways to hack down on visa costs. Firstly, you can reduce the number of personnel on the traveling party. Or you can look for visa alternatives. In most cases, it’s always impossible to follow route #1 because you can’t leave any staff members out, which leaves you with option #2.
To find visa alternatives, you need to examine everyone’s status to see whether they can qualify for cheaper visa categories. For example, if your destination is the US, you may apply for ESTA USA for those employees who are eligible for it. It typically costs $14 to apply for ESTA. I should use this medium to educate people about the ESTA USA online visa.
What is an ESTA USA online visa?
ESTA USA is an electronic authorization that allows you to enter the US visa-free. If you’re a citizen of one of the US Visa Waiver Program countries, you’ll be qualified to submit an ESTA application. Usually, a typical ESTA application permits you to come to the US for tourism and business purposes and stay for up to 90 days.
In the context of this article, it makes sense to apply for ESTA USA for your traveling party. Besides the fact that an ESTA application saves you costs remarkably, it’s also faster to land an ESTA USA authorization – it takes only 72 hours. That means you won’t have to wait around for so long, unlike regular US visas.
Furthermore, your employees’ ESTA status stays valid for two years. Even after their first visit, they can return at later dates for other business-related purposes.
- Use discounts to save on flight costs
Another expense that runs up pretty quickly is the cost of flight tickets. For one person, you may not feel the effect. But when you have many employees traveling at once, your budget may suffer.
An excellent way to hack down on this cost is by offering promotional offers. Many airlines offer promotional deals such as discounts and credit points. The latter helps you reduce expenses directly, while the latter builds up over time. Avail of these offers to reduce your overall flight costs.
You can find these deals on an airline’s website. Or you can call directly to ask for it. If an airline refuses to offer you a discount, don’t be afraid to try others. The fact you’re traveling in a large number should earn you discounts without question. Even if all you get is a $5 discount reduction per ticket. For a 20-man traveling group, that’s $100 saved.
- Use a travel agency to plan your trips
Many companies use travel agencies not only because of the convenience. Many a time, it’s because these agents have access to affiliate companies that can land them cheaper deals.
A proficient travel agent can land cheaper hotel bookings, flight costs, transportation options, etc.
If cost reduction is significant to you, talk to several travel agencies to see which ones have the capacity to expand your options to save money.
You might be lucky to find a good agent that will help you. And if not, you’ve lost nothing. Unless, of course, you’re counting the time you spend talking to them.
- Conduct your business online
Must you meet that associate in person? Is it compulsory for employees to have in-person training? Can’t they have their training online?
COVID has shown us that almost anything is achievable over the internet.
Nowadays, people meet with associates online, close deals, append signatures, authenticate and validate documents, attend training and conferences, and do more.
If you’re tired of spending too much on corporate trips, perhaps it’s time to consider taking your operations online. If not everything, you may split things up. Tend to some online and travel for others. That way, you’ll reduce the number of trips you need to embark on in a year.
- Go economical at all times
Finally, encourage your employees to be minimalistic while on corporate trips. Tell them to book economy flights, eat-in or look for cheaper restaurants, and lodge in the most affordable hotels.
If they won’t listen, take action and place the bookings yourself. It’s your business, after all. Therefore, it’s up to you not to allow employee extravagancy to run you out of business.