Business Travel: Save Funds Using a Travel Manager

Business trips help the bottom line in several ways — by recruiting new clients, deepening relations with existing ones and making sure everything is going well in a far-flung company.

But travel also comes with costs, most notably in airline fares, rental-car charges and hotel stays. Those expenses can pile up quickly and be a challenge to manage in-house. Negotiating the best deals with vendors is a key element in cutting down costs, according to the Global Business Travel Association.

One way to save is by partnering with a travel management company, which has already built the industry connections that your business needs. Travel Leaders travel advisors who specialize in corporate travel have a long history of working with suppliers, and are able to help their clients get the best rates.

Here are some ways a management company can help you save:

Before contacting a company, create a report based on your last year or two of travel expenses. Be prepared to show data on the frequency of travel, peak seasons, how much you’ve spent on airfare, lodging and transportation and frequent destinations or routes for your business trips.

When it comes to negotiating with airlines, they will want to demonstrate your company’s volume of air travel. The carrier will want to know how much incremental business it will get from your company. Does it justify subsidizing the business they are already getting without a discount?

When negotiating agreements for car rentals, the travel manager makes sure the supplier doesn’t focus entirely on getting the lowest daily rate. Rental companies are often more willing to make concessions on other costs, such as refueling fees, insurance and energy recovery charges. These miscellaneous charges typically represent about 40 percent of your car-rental bill.

If your business is small to mid-sized, without the volume of travel to impress a major hotel chain, try to aim your negotiations at a regional chain or a boutique hotel in a destination that your employees visit frequently. To get the best rate, consider using just a few properties in each destination. And most importantly, choose properties that will be acceptable to your traveling employees.

Adding value to the supplier can make it more likely that you’ll get a discounted rate. For example, an option for an airline agreement would be to make their loyalty rewards card your corporate travel credit card, if you can demonstrate significant annual purchases. With a hotel, you might be able to parlay a short-term discount for an annual convention or national meeting into a yearlong deal.

Consider barter opportunities. Perhaps your business offers services that would be useful to the vendor, or can help the vendor enter a new market or target a new segment of customers. In-kind discounts are another way to save. If you’re not reaching an agreement on airline fares or room rates, try to negotiate for free Wi-Fi, overnight parking or access to an airport lounge.

For help navigating any travel plans, contact one of our business travel advisors.

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