Without a treasure map it can be hard to find chests of gold coins just buried in the ground. But they’re there. Every travel program has a secret cache of undiscovered value. You just need to know where to look. Making it harder? Every corporate island has a different treasure map that must be deciphered to hit the jackpot.
This is where we can hopefully help you to succeed in your quest. By examining the clues, we will suggest a few places to look so you don’t have to dig too hard before finding your treasure.
Start at 30,000 Feet
Since air travel is the most expensive part of the business travel landscape it makes sense that we should look to that sector to find overspending first. And since long-haul international tickets cost the most (last week it was announced that the most expensive airline ticket in the marketplace was a $66,000 personal cabin on Etihad with a queen-size bed and private bathroom) let’s start with them.
So where might we find savings?
– Free Upgrades. The value of a free upgrade on a transoceanic flight can be worth thousands. Every time you pay for one when you could have scored a free one you’re losing money. Make sure your company is partnered with a TMC with access to valuable negotiated perks like these which will make life easier for your road warriors.
– Early Reservations. The cheap last-minute flight deals we saw during the peak of the pandemic are gone. These days if you wait until the last minute to nail down your travel plans, you’ll end up paying for it. The Penny Hoarder (they should know) is proclaiming that travelers who bought their plane tickets an average of 76 days (about two-and-a-half months) in advance of their flight scored the lowest price. Getting travelers to book tickets as soon as they know they need to go should be standard-operating-procedure. Booking 1 to 2 weeks before their departure date can cost $90 more on average. Waiting until the same week of their trip might cost about $150 more. Note: Booking too early can be a mistake. More than three months out can be costing your company as well (not as much a last minute bookings, but still a little higher).
– Gas for Rental Cars. While every supplier is different, a general rule is the cost of having the rental car company refill the tank is always most expensive. Sometimes, a lot more. Since your traveler may be pressed for time on their way back to the airport always have them try to top off the tank the night before.
– Rental Car Insurance. While the goal here is cutting out the cost of buying coverage for liability, as well as a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) which transfers the cost of fixing any dents, or worse, back to the rental company; the truth here is it’s a complicated subject which requires research by a diligent travel manager. The old axiom that you don’t need rental car insurance because your personal insurance policy will cover it only applies when the car is being used for personal travel. The fact that it’s a business rental will toss that out the window first thing. And then there’s liability, the traveler may have caused a terrible wreck and both the traveler and their company may be named in a lawsuit. The best scenario involves the company getting coverage for both liability and damage to the rental car from a third party supplier. (Allianz has coverage available for $11 a day, which is a lot cheaper than at the rental desk.) Your comprehensive corporate insurance provider may also have an option that will cover your firm and all its travelers. The only thing certain is that the most expensive option is ignoring this aspect of business travel.
– Automation. If the only travel automation you use is an online booking tool, you may be losing money. How? Take the number of hours required for a traveler to assemble their receipts and prepare an expense report and then multiply that times the employee’s hourly rate. Now multiply that calculation times the number of trips as a company you have each month. All the hours they spend each month managing travel could have been spent on their primary job. Having an expense management program attached to your online booking tool, one that automatically assembles receipts and prepares an expense report could put most of those hours back in the productive column. So the answer to more savings could be just a little more automation.
Hopefully these clues will help you unearth some gold coins. And you didn’t even need a parrot!