Tips for saving money on business travel

Travelling for business can cost a pretty penny. But there are ways to cut costs.

Love it or loathe it, travelling across states or overseas is part of running a business. And while flights are cheaper in recent years, travel costs can get out of hand fast.

Australian business travellers spent an average $5,341.70 per traveller in 2014, according to a survey by Locomote, making it an expensive exercise in anyone’s language.

The site, which manages corporate travel for more than 200,000 employees across the country, found that overnight business trips were the most popular (15.1%), followed by two nights away for work (11.1%), then five nights away (10%).

Domestic travel saw companies spend an average $730.30 per traveller per trip away, which included flights, accommodation and car rental. Overseas travel jumped to $3,492.



Money saving tips for business travellers.

  • Avoid flying where possible by utilising Google Hangouts, Skype or Zoom with your clients.
  • Ditch the chain hotel. The rise of sites like AirB&B are paving the way for travellers to have a more homely (and cheaper) travel experience.
  • Try searching for two one-way flights instead of a return flight, there can be a significant price difference.
  • Collate adequate records for claims by using a free app such as Shoeboxed.
  • For international travel, compare the cost of using overseas ATMs with the use of an electronic travel wallet or travel card. These alternatives are pre-paid currency cards that allow you to load your travel money at a fixed exchange rate on to the same card, which can be used at ATMs or shops.
  • Take a look at the Australian Tax Office website for business travel tips.



But there are ways to save on business travel.

Be a loyal flyer

Frequent flyer programs are a great first step and can have business and personal benefits for you and your staff. It may take a while to accumulate points, but they add up if you fly often. Even if you don’t fly often, just one long haul flight will add to your points balance. Look into linking this to corporate credit cards, so both you and your staff can benefit.

Make travelling for work more comfortable with premium status. This can also bring the added bonus of gaining access to the airline lounges, even if you or your staff are flying economy. The programs also offer priority check-in, priority security and priority boarding. Choice conducted research on airline loyalty programs from a value perspective, which is worth a look.

And while price comparison sites like Webjet, or are great to quickly compare the prices of each airline for your selected route, make sure you actually compare prices with the airline’s own website - sometimes it’s cheaper to book direct with the airline.

Time your booking

Being organised can help save you time and money. Try to avoid booking flights too close to the travel date, as airlines often put the prices up for those hoping to fly at the last minute.

But buying tickets too early can be expensive, too. Try to purchase flights between three and 12 weeks before the flight.

Encourage your staff to consider scheduling their travel mid-week flights and outside of school holiday periods as they are often cheaper.

Book individually

Booking group flights can be tricky. Airlines typically show the lowest ticket price for the whole group, which means you might not see all seating options at the back of the plane because there’s only one left. To get around this, make sure there’s enough seats on the plane for the whole group, then search one ticket at a time.

Keep a record

A travel diary can also be a great way to maximise tax deductions, so note down where you go, who you saw, meetings, and things you discovered that will help you improve your business. This also enables your accountant to properly apportion between business and personal elements of a trip away. Encourage your staff to do the same, so they too can claim any personal expenses associated with corporate travel.

Meanwhile, don’t get caught by airline websites that automatically tick options, such as luggage or insurance when booking online. Be sure to untick these options to cut costs.

Travel insurance

An annual corporate travel policy for your company can save you time and money, as well as not having to worry about remembering to notify your insurer each time you travel. In addition to loss of luggage, the policy can also include medical costs and flight cancellations. Speak to a Steadfast insurance broker, who can advise you further and even extended your policy to include personal travel for you and your employees.

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