EVEN FOR COMPANIES trying to operate on a tight budget, some travel is often unavoidable. “You have to stay in front of your customers,” says Joe Murray, vice president of River City Travel in Portland. But travel costs don’t have to eat away at the bottom line. Here are a few tips from the Small Business Administration and local experts that can help any company:
Have a travel policy. Guidelines go a long way toward travel savings. According to the SBA, your policy should detail how to approach traveling while on the company clock.
Use a company credit card. A centralized form of payment provides a monthly expense report while also reflecting benefits back onto the company. “They provide a record of actual spending,” says Judy Myers, manager of business development at Azumano Travel.
Consolidate trips when possible. A travel agent can help get the best price for a block of airplane seats or several hotel rooms. And consider trimming the number of travelers.
Keep detailed records. “Data collection will centralize how you book your travel,” says Myers. Through detailed record-keeping trends emerge and companies can see where they need to put their money and where they can afford to cut back.
Call in the experts. On or offline, a company specializing in corporate travel can evaluate your company’s travel patterns and recommend cost-cutting measures such as hotel or airfare discounts. “Use a travel agency that can help you negotiate rates,” says Murray.
Join an airline perks program. Most large airlines offer discounts and incentives, says Myers. Preferred carriers and business rewards programs work best when your company goes through one or two travel agencies and can provide an accurate record of travel data trends. After all, the same frequent travel bonuses that benefit vacationers also reap rewards, in much larger terms, for corporate travelers.
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