GUIDE TO CUTTING BUSINESS TRIP COSTS
1st Sep 2005
Travelodge has just revealed the astonishing results of a survey conducted among UK businesses. £1.3 billion is wasted every year on extravagant overnight domestic business trips.
With nearly half of all businesses failing to produce an official business travel policy, many employees today admit to booking what they want and, unbelievably, 88 per cent claim not to be influenced by cost.
Stephen Alambritis, Chief Spokesman, Federation of Small Businesses, commented: "Business owners understand the importance of face-to-face meetings and consider personal contact with customers an essential part of generating new sales. But well run firms control the cost of business travel, setting budgets for both transport and accommodation. Controlling costs across the business underpins future growth and success."
As the UK's number one budget hotel brand, Travelodge prides itself on being a low-cost operator. Given our 20 years in the business, Travelodge has a number of tips for organisations looking to trim expenditure: Heed these helpful guidelines, cut costs and help grow a successful business.
DEVELOP YOUR BUSINESS TRAVEL POLICY
You must explain what's acceptable when it comes to expenses during business or training trips. If you have a policy, ask yourself if you're covering the right areas and if your employees are fully aware of it. If you don't have a policy, you need to create one. You want your employees to have an acceptable level of service and comfort while away on trips within a reasonable cost to your company.
Face to face communication is clearly still important today given 84 per cent of UK employees regularly take overnight business trips. The business travel policy should therefore include guidelines for employees on how to organise and finance such a trip. This policy should be included in the Company Handbook so all employees can access it.
Content might include:
- Set and agree a realistic budget for every trip.
Every employee should agree a budget with his or her line manager. This may sound admin-intensive but it's vital in order to reduce unnecessary over-spend.
- Arrange the meeting so travel is avoided at peak times.
- Appoint one person to co-ordinate all bookings.
Letting individuals arrange their own business travel and accommodation is one reason why costs often spiral out of control - around 40 per cent of employees make their own arrangements today. The objective is for this person, be it a PA or office manager, to become familiar with all the best prices and providers.
- Consider outsourcing business travel bookings to a third party.
This is worthwhile if employees in your organisation travel extensively.
- Always book as early as possible.
This is a great way to get the best discounts and more effective cost management. Did you know only 9 per cent of UK employees buy train tickets sufficiently far in advance to take advantage of APEX and Saver fares?
- Book online.
Make the most of reduced web-only rates. For example, Travelodge's great £26 per room, per night rates are available only on the Travelodge website.
- Recommend operators - provide a list.
Did you know only one in ten companies have a policy asking staff to use budget airlines, despite its reputation as a very cost-effective means of travel?
- Travel economy, not business or first class where possible.
- Think tube or bus, not taxi.
- London Congestion Charging.
Confirm who has responsibility for paying the charge and say it must be paid in advance or on the day to get the £8 fee. Did you know there is a surcharge of £2 if you pay after 10 pm on the day and that fines are £100, rising to £150 if not paid within 28 days?
- Recommend accommodation providers - provide a list.
Given the quality and central location of many budget hotels like Travelodge today, business travellers don't need to stay in a 4 or 5 star hotel. By simply switching to budget accommodation, UK businesses could collectively reduce the £1.3 billion wasted on overnight business trips by £938 million.
- Internet / Email.
When working from a hotel or home, employees shouldn't leave their laptop on permanent dial up. They should also think carefully before downloading large content.
- Mobile phones.
Even when away on business, request employees use a landline where possible.
- Food and Drink claims.
Reimburse employees for essential costs but make the point that business trips are not an excuse to spend company funds.
- Ask employees to submit travel expenses within a week of returning.
This allows accounts to quickly process costs and plan ahead.
- Check closely.
It's the responsibility of the employee's line manager, or equivalent, to review all proposed trips before authorising. They must also examine the claim and ensure they've followed guidelines. Accounts Payable departments must also be vigilant when processing claims.