10 Ways to Save on Business Travel
Commonsense approaches will keep you on the move without emptying your pockets.
As a business traveler for 25 years, mostly as a sole proprietor, I’m acutely aware of how much corporate travel costs and how those costs can be a nightmare to contain.
Business trips are rarely planned with the kind of notice you need to snag the deep discounts. Trips also change mid-itinerary, tacking penalties and fees onto already steep prices. Taxes and fees can add another 25 percent (or more) to your tab. (How about an 18 percent municipal parking tax?) Add luggage fees, Wi-Fi access, surcharges on rental cars, extra meals (think of those four-hour airport delays), new visa requirements for international travel. All these bills add up, so even if you think you know how much a trip will cost, the final tab can be a shocker.
So how can travelers maximize savings? Priyan Fernando, chief operating officer for American Express business travel, advises that corporate travel is a cost center that needs scrutiny, like any other business expense, and a calculable ROI.
With that in mind, American Express has released 10 tips for efficient travel spending, and we’ve added some of our own.
1. Plan twice, book once. American Express advises that changes mean fees. Airlines often charge $150 or more to rebook a ticket, and many hotels charge “no show” fees of $50 or more, even if you cancel ahead of time. Some hotels even charge the full rate for a room you booked but didn’t stay in, especially during a convention. My advice: Confirm appointments before you book; check and double-check to make sure your bookings make sense—that flights and hotel reservations match up, flight or interline connections aren’t too close, and that you’ll most definitely stay that last day of a convention.
2. Pack light. Most airlines charge baggage fees and levy charges for overweight bags. American Express advises that the cost of dry cleaning may be cheaper than checking extra luggage on longer trips. My tip: Rethink the number of wardrobe changes you’d ordinarily make. At the very least, bring fewer pairs of shoes, leave the hair dryer at home (your hotel room likely has one), and use miniature bottles of toiletries and personal-care products.
3. Check your paperwork. Crossing borders? Ensure that your passport is current and that you have the necessary visas for your trip. Expired or missing paperwork not only can delay your trip but also increase the cost if you need to pay for expediting. My tip: Check with a travel management company or a travel agency for visa/passport support before you travel, and factor in the amount of time it takes to get the travel documents you need.