Skip to main content

How to cut your business travel expenses (while keeping your road warriors productive)

Here are 6 ways to reduce your company’s travel costs while you ensure that employees have safe and productive trips.

According to a 2016 study, a three-day business trip in the United States costs companies on average approximately $1,800 CA ($1,444 USD).

Between airfare, hotels, rental cars and food, your company’s travel expenses can quickly get out of control.

And the above number doesn’t include communications expenses, such as data plans and roaming charges.

While you want employees to have productive business trips, you likely don’t have an unlimited budget. You can’t let travel costs cut into your bottom line.

Here are six ways to save on travel while you ensure that your employees have productive, worry-free trips:

1. Review your travel policies

The time leading up to a business trip is busy.

Employees won’t always have time to read the fine print when they book flights and hotels. They also may forget to review your company travel policies before they head out of town. Unfortunately, this can lead to unexpected “gotchas” and higher travel costs.

Keeping your policies simple makes it easier for employees to know what to look for when they make travel arrangements. That way, even if they don’t have time to read your policies before a trip, they will still be likely to comply.

Here’s a quick overview of what to include in your travel policy:

- A list of reimbursable expenses

- Guidelines for spending on flights, hotels, rental cars, meals, entertainment, and other business expenses

- How to submit expense reports

- Information on any savings incentive programs that you use

2. Reward savings

Employees often worry about overspending when they travel.

What are the consequences if they go over their budget? How much do they have left in their budget? Will they need to have an uncomfortable conversation with their manager or their company’s travel policy enforcer?

These concerns can impact employees’ productivity while they are on the road – which ultimately harms your bottom line.

Instead of discouraging overspending, you can reward employees for saving.

For example, you can give employees incentives if they stay under budget. Google’s pioneering corporate travel program offered employees upgrades on their future travel if they stayed under budget. Take a cue from Google and give employees gift cards, future flight upgrades, or other perks.

3. Offer a booking service

When employees make their own travel arrangements, they will choose their preferred companies and packages.

They might buy a first-class ticket for a one-hour flight or get an upgrade to their hotel room.

Why not? They’re not paying for it.

If you provide employees with a booking service, you can cut back on unnecessary travel expenses. You will also make life easier for your employees, as they won’t need to research flights, hotels and rental cars. Your booking system – be it a travel agent or an online booking tool – can take care of everything for them.

4. Get a roaming package that won’t break the bank

Roaming costs can quickly add up.

Many roaming plans require you to purchase an add-on before someone travels. But if you don’t know when an employee is roaming, you can’t take this precaution to reduce your costs. Then, you may receive an unexpectedly high bill when the employee returns.

Luckily, you no longer need to worry about high roaming fees when employees travel in the U.S. or abroad. Look for a plan that automatically triggers preferred roaming rates when someone leaves Canada and knows when they return. That way, you won’t need to add and remove roaming options manually. Meanwhile, your employees won’t worry about using too much data when they travel.

5. Choose a flexible wireless plan

Many companies purchase one wireless plan for everyone. Highly mobile employees get the same amount of data as people who stay in the office.

But this can lead to high overage fees, as frequent travelers quickly surpass their limits.

You can lower your data costs – while keeping travelers productive – by choosing a flexible wireless plan. Look for plans that offer convenient features like data that’s shareable among teams. That way, you won’t need to micromanage data plans or worry about high overage fees.

6. Keep track of your mobile devices.

Almost 450,000 devices are lost or stolen in Canada annually.

And if your employees travel to London, they could be among the 190,000 people each year who leave their phones in cabs.

An enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution allows you to manage your company’s devices remotely. For example, you can instantly wipe a device if it is lost or stolen – no matter where in the world it is located or if its battery is dead. You can also control which users can access which applications – reducing the risk of your data falling into the wrong hands.

Next Steps

Is anyone in your company traveling this year? If so, it might be time to review your travel policies and see if you have any opportunities to cut your costs. For example, can you think of ways to reward savings, as opposed to punishing overspending? Or can you change to a wireless plan that offers better data and roaming rates?

You will likely find quick wins that will reduce your expenses while you keep employees safe and productive on the road.