By Michael Zhou
Small business travel is anything but small. From flights and hotels to rental cars and dinner meetings, sending your small business team on a business trip can be quite expensive. In fact, a three day business trip for one employee can cost a small business up to $1,425. An expense like this once or twice a month can add up quickly.
What can be done? You certainly can’t cut travel, especially if the majority of your small business’ success depends on deals made on the road. Whether it’s you or your team traveling to meet clients or attending trade shows or events, it needs to be affordable. The following small business travel tips can serve as your quick guide to cutting costs. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Use those credit card rewards whenever possible
Small business travel can be more affordable when you have a flexible small business travel card. And there are no shortage of travel credit cards for businesses, both large and small, to leverage for cheaper business travel. There are small business travel services you can leverage for assistance as well.
Once you’ve been using your business travel card awhile, you’ve most likely stacked up some credit card rewards. This can help you and your business cut costs on flights, hotels, rental cars, dinner meetings with new clients, and much more. Find a travel credit card that fits the needs of your business and use it whenever possible.
2. Book online and go with the same carrier as often as you can
If you’re still using a travel agency to book you and your team’s business travel, you are losing quite a bit of money. By doing the leg work yourself online, you can save quite a bit of cash, and score more miles for future business travel trips. For instance, using Google Flights is a great place to start searching for flights.
Next, if you can use the same airline often, do so. This can add more miles to your small business account, and you may get double rewards via the airline and the small business credit card you use to pay. Lastly, look for layover flights. They are cheaper and you may be able to fit a business meeting in during a long layover, saving on hotel and flight costs.
3. Know the best days and times to book your flight and travel
Booking online flights and using the same airline carrier as much as possible is only half the battle. To unlock even more savings when it comes to airfare, you need to know what days and times to book and fly. Typically Tuesdays in the afternoon are best for booking and traveling domestically. This is because most airlines publish deals on Tuesday.
Wednesdays and Saturdays are great days to choose for departures and arrivals. And if you can get most of your business travel done in places during their offseason, you are going to definitely save big.
4. Nurture relationships with the hotels your small business frequents
Hotel prices continue to increase. With higher nightly rates, resort fees (depending on the city you stay), and taxes, hotels can eat a lot of your business travel budget. To score cheaper rates, build and nurture relationships with the hotel chains you frequent the most.
For example, Hilton hotels offers a local business program for businesses in select areas. Many other hotel chains do the same. This can cut 7 percent to 10 percent off room rates, and sometimes more. Look at the past year or so of your travel expenses and identify the hotels you and your team frequent, and give their business representatives a call.
5. Keep track of all your small business travel expenses
The best way to save on small business travel is to stay on top of it. Create protocols or standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure you and your business team are getting the best flights, hotels, and not going outside the budgetary guidelines. You may even find setting a per diem for you and your team effective as well.
Tracking all this can be a pain, especially while you’re trying to run and grow your small business. But there are a number of web-based tools and apps that can keep business travel on track and recorded. Some of these tools and apps are also free, a definite bonus for small business owners.
Are you getting the most out of your small business travel?
The above small business travel tips are not the be-all, end-all by any means. There are a lot of ways to cut costs when it comes to business travel, but the above are among the most important and easiest to implement right away. Business travel is expensive, but if you stay on top of it, you can save thousands per year. If you have a small business travel tip for cutting costs, we want to hear from you.
Michael Zhou is a Senior VP of Business Intelligence Development and has assisted the Fortune 1000 company with expertise in the web as a whole, including ground-zero marketing efforts that benefit both consumer and vendor. He is also contributor on Esprittoday.