By Megan Doyle
When booking airline tickets for business trips, which cost an average of $450,2 booking and departing on the right days is an important way for SMEs to save money. It is often cheapest to book domestic flights on a Sunday and depart on a Friday, according to Expedia’s 2018 Air Travel Outlook report. Booking on a Friday and departing on a Sunday, on the other hand, tends to cost more than the average. It is worth noting that the average ticket prices on different days of the week may vary greatly based on origin and destination.3
Staying flexible when booking flights and scheduling meetings can save businesses hundreds of dollars on airfare, experts say. It’s recommended that businesses find several of the least-expensive flights before setting a meeting time to ensure savings.4
Travel booking websites are a good place to start planning. But experts also suggest checking airline sites as well, because not all airlines show up on the travel sites. Airline websites can offer better deals from time to time.5
Another recommendation for business travelers is to pack only essentials, as the additional costs of checked baggage can add up.6 Most airlines allow passengers to carry onboard a computer or other bag containing personal belongings, as well as a piece of luggage that fits in the overhead compartment.
With an average price of $180 per night, hotel rooms can cost more than a flight depending on the length of stay.7 When choosing a hotel, consider whether it offers free Wi-Fi, includes complimentary breakfast,8 and/or provides free access to conference or meeting rooms.
Experts also suggest opting for hotels with free parking—some hotels charge as much as $35 per day9,10 —as well as a free airport shuttle.11
To save money on car rentals, businesses can consider avoiding rental agencies at airports, as they often charge a daily airport tax as high as 25 percent of the total cost.12 Also, some business credit cards cover rental car insurance. Opting out of a rental company’s insurance coverage by using an applicable credit card can save customers $20 per day on average, according to experts.13
Booking a hotel with breakfast included isn’t the only way small businesses can save on food expenses. Consider buying food from local grocery stores, for example.14,15 When restaurants are necessary—for meeting with a client, for instance—try to meet over lunch, experts advise. Many restaurants offer the same menu for lunch and dinner, but charge less for the lunch with the same portions. It’s recommended that business travelers always check a restaurant’s menu beforehand to ensure that their spending stays within budget.16
One of the best ways for businesses to keep their travel spending on track is to establish a firm set of policies as to preferred airlines and hotel chains, expense limits, reimbursements, and other factors—and then hold employees accountable for following those policies. Experts suggest not reimbursing employees for expenses that don’t conform to the policies.17
Choosing a travel rewards business credit card can further minimize costs, while improving the employee’s travel experiences. Benefits include hotel and rental car savings, as well as free access to Wi-Fi and other services for which companies usually charge.
There’s no avoiding expenses such as airfare, hotels, and food on business trips. But understanding how to save money and travel smart can help businesses get the most bang for their travel buck.
Megan Doyle is a business technology writer and researcher based in Wantagh, NY, whose work focuses primarily on financial services technology.
1. “2018 Corporate Travel Index,” Business Travel News; http://www.businesstravelnews.com/Corporate-Travel-Index/2018?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eltrdaily
3. “2018 Air Travel Outlook Report,” Expedia; https://viewfinder.expedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/ARC-2018-Air-Travel-Outlook-Report.pdf
4. “25 Ways to Save Money on Business Travel,” Small Biz Trends; https://smallbiztrends.com/2015/02/ways-to-save-money-on-business-travel.html
6. “How to Save Money on a Business Trip: Smart and Productive Traveling,” 30 Seconds to Fly; https://www.30secondstofly.com/corporate-traveler/saving-money-on-business-trips/
7. “2018 Corporate Travel Index,” Business Travel News; http://www.businesstravelnews.com/Corporate-Travel-Index/2018?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eltrdaily
8. “4 Tips and Tricks to Save on Small Business Travel,” NFIB; https://www.nfib.com/content/resources/technology/4-tips-and-tricks-to-save-on-small-business-travel/
10. “10 Annoying Hotel Fees and How to Avoid Them,” Kiplinger; https://www.kiplinger.com/article/spending/T059-C011-S001-10-annoying-hotel-fees-and-how-to-avoid-them.html
11. “25 Ways to Save Money on Business Travel,” Small Biz Trends; https://smallbiztrends.com/2015/02/ways-to-save-money-on-business-travel.html
12. “How to Save Money on Rental Cars,” The New York Times; https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/02/travel/how-to-save-money-on-car-rentals.html
13. “25 Ways to Save Money on Business Travel,” Small Biz Trends; https://smallbiztrends.com/2015/02/ways-to-save-money-on-business-travel.html
16. “How to Save Money on a Business Trip: Smart and Productive Traveling,” 30 Seconds to Fly; https://www.30secondstofly.com/corporate-traveler/saving-money-on-business-trips/
17. “How to Reduce the Cost of Employee Business Travel,” The Balance; https://www.thebalancecareers.com/reduce-employee-travel-cost-1918740