Corporate travel is at the top of the best returns on your investment in businesses. Research shows that, when done strategically, every dollar you invest here can bring a $12.50 increase in revenue and $3.80 in new profits.
Note the keywords: done strategically.
The thing is, some travel expenses are notoriously high. Much of your budget is allocated to lodging, transportation, and rental cars, with meals and incidentals close behind.
So how do you proactively manage your costs to maximize your ROI on these high expenses? These will help you strategize and bring in more revenue than your travelers' expenditures.
1. Get (and Stay) Organized
What’s your daily strategy for organizing your to-do list and planning your travel policies? If it’s scattered, you’re losing time and money.
You can start by pulling out those documents that show all your travel and reimbursement policies. What do those workflows look like? How detailed are they? Are they easy for your employees to access and understand, or do travelers have to come to you for all their questions?
Please revamp your travel policies and procedures to make them work for you. Clearly and briefly explain how to complete expense reports and what is and isn’t reimbursable.
Could you include a section that lists which vendors are preferred because you have corporate discount codes (and share those codes)? This is a beneficial way to reduce high lodging and transportation expenses.
According to Kyle Kroeger, Founder of ViaTravelers, “if you haven’t updated your travel policy in a couple of years, check it and see where it stands on rideshares. This type of transportation is popular with travelers but not reimbursable in many outdated policies. Rather than paying the high costs of a rental car, a few Uber or Lyft rides can significantly reduce your travel budget expenses. But employees need to know whether these are reimbursable before they go.
2. Use Credit Cards to Gain Rewards
So you must pay full price (or close to it) for expensive travel necessities. Why not make it worth using corporate credit cards with the best rewards? Pay the cards off each month, and gather those points simultaneously.
You can use the corporate card to book your employees’ lodging and transportation or consider letting them do the work. Set up filters on your booking platform that assign permissions and limits to each user login. You’ll get notifications when someone uses your card, so you can monitor the tasks without doing the work.
Some credit card companies permit you to have multiple virtual cards. These cards are linked to a primary account used by specific individuals, allowing you to give your employees the freedom to spend on the corporate dime while still staying within your preset boundaries.
At the same time, everything they spend accumulates points for you, and you can skip the step of reimbursing travelers for their on-the-road costs. Using this strategy makes your ROI visible in revenue and time saved.
3. Book Early
Part of being organized includes planning early enough to grab the best deals. If you’re not on a time crunch, you can search for discounts, watch for specials, and grab reduced fares when you see them.
According to some experts, you’ll get the cheapest rates on domestic flights 1-3 months before the departure date. International flights are priced the best at 2-8 months out.
By planning your travel dates, you can avoid peak season rates, too. Sometimes, you can’t adjust the date, like sending your employees to a major conference.
But if you have flexibility in choosing times to travel, look at your calendar or Google significant events in that area during that period. If there’s a holiday, big concert, or sporting event, consider picking another date that won’t spike the hotel and transportation costs,” says Justin Crabbe, CEO of Jettly.
Rising costs are visible in almost everything you buy today, but you can still maximize your ROI on business travel. Manage those high expenses with these three easy-to-implement strategies, and start seeing your profits rise even as market inflation is a part of daily life.