4 ways to reduce your business travel expenses

January 24, 2021

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Business travel expenses

Globally, people take a total of 445 million business trips each year. While these business travellers account for just 12% of airline passengers, they are responsible for a staggering 75% share of airline profits. As great as that is for airlines, if you’re a business owner or manager, that isn’t such good news.

Besides demonstrating the massive market there is for business travel, these numbers also shed light on the challenges of business travel budgeting. From estimating the cost of travelling to the airport or adding up a week’s worth of lunch receipts, managing business travel expenses is time-consuming and error-prone.

And the more employees you have, the easier it is for costs to pile up.

Getting a handle on your business travel expenses is a challenge, but with the right tools and tips you can cut down on business travel costs in no time. It all starts with a clear business travel policy.

1. Set up clear business travel policies and guidelines

A study of corporate travel trends by Expedia Group found that only 60% of businesses had a travel policy of any kind. If you’re part of the remaining 40%, then have no fear, because setting up a travel policy is not as complicated as you may think.

A business travel policy is a framework for how your employees travel, their accommodation and expense allowances, and the preferred suppliers or booking channels that your company uses. While they can become convoluted and complicated, it’s best to keep them short and sweet if you want them to stay effective. The key is to focus on the following fundamentals:

  1. Outline an approvals process;
  2. Include guidelines for booking and reservations;
  3. Set clear on-site expense limits;
  4. Assign the policy a clear owner in the organisation.

One thing to keep in mind is that this policy should be simple enough to apply across the entire company. However, this doesn’t mean that all teams and employees get equal expense budgets.

2. Leverage technology for easy business travel expense management

A lack of formal processes and outdated booking systems have a significant negative impact on business travel and budget management. A company’s tools and procedures often make it impossible to get an overview of what different teams spend. Instead, managers spend hours on manual reporting and updating budget spreadsheets, resulting in a lengthy reimbursement process that leaves everyone dissatisfied.

Digital business travel solutions can help with a wide range of travel costs. For example, Bolt Business offers companies a complete overview of employee travel expenses and handles all expense reporting and invoicing automatically. By allowing managers to set employee-specific travel expense allowances, employees get instant expense reimbursement without the hassle of submitting a claim or the hours spent filing reports.

Besides the time and money saved, giving individuals the freedom to book their business travel transportation makes business travel more convenient and enjoyable.

3. Reward employees for sticking to their personal budgets

For many small to medium businesses, employees don’t have the luxury of having their flights booked for them. Instead, they’re responsible for getting themselves from point A to B.

Now, if you don’t have a clear policy on how much that should cost, then you’re setting yourself up for some substantial extra costs. You’re probably familiar with the phrase – it’s easy to spend money that isn’t yours. That’s where incentivising your employees to treat company budgets like their own can save money.

From an annual bonus for keeping to their business travel budget to a reward after each well-managed trip, the benefits of rewarding your employees for sticking to their budgets can be substantial. Incentives for budget-keeping are especially important when you don’t use an expense management tool to add limits in advance.

4. Team up with travel agencies to get the best deals

Given the average spend on business travel expenses, it represents a substantial cost for businesses.

Remember, though, that an administrative team or employee won’t have the negotiating power to strike great deals with an airline, hotel, or transport supplier. Partnering up with travel agencies who are experts at getting great deals can help you save thousands, if not more, on travel expenses.

If you’re wondering how they do this, it’s by working at scale to get bulk-deals for their clients. Working at scale is also how Bolt Business helps companies save on business travel. As one of the fastest-growing transportation platforms in the world, Bolt Business saves clients as much as 30% on ride fares.

Save on rides and expense management with Bolt Business

In addition to saving you cash on rides, the Bolt Business platform aggregates your team’s expenses in one easy-to-use dashboard. Learn more about Bolt Business and how we can help you cut down on business travel costs and make travel expense management easy.

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