Travel is an essential component of growing your business, but too often as entrepreneurs we are concerned about the pressure travel expenses will put on our cashflow and profits.
Not travelling, however, could mean the difference between connecting and not connecting with a customer, and sealing the deal.
Large corporates and conglomerates didn’t get to where they are by cutting out travel. Rather, by managing these expenses so they achieved the best bang for their buck.
Says Ryan Potgieter, Flight Centre Business Travel GM(2017): “Businesses at all levels are on the hunt for ways to lower their travel costs and when it comes to the world of business travel, keeping business travel costs in check, is everybody’s business, not just the manager.”
Here are some clever ways your travellers can get on board to keep your business travel costs in check without having a formal travel policy in place.
For South Africans, travelling overseas usually means having to apply for a visa. Unless you are travelling for a few days to the destination every month, it may not be worth the cost of applying for a multiple-entry visa. Instead, single-entry may be more cost effective.
Says Monique Swart, founder African Business Travel Association: “Visa applications are left to the last minute, which ultimately drives up the costs of airfares. This could lead to fees for booking changes, requesting an express visa at additional charges or even that basic visa conditions are not adhered to and the visa is rejected, leading to even more costs.”
5 things your travellers can be smart about before they travel
- Know the basic geography of your destination or familiarise oneself with key routes to avoid additional transport costs.
- Check that routine vaccinations are up to date, especially those specific to your destination to avoid being refused entry, which will automatically lead to additional costs.
- Pay attention to add-on fees. When booking a hotel for instance, ensure that you’ve booked a hotel which includes an airport shuttle, WiFi and breakfast as paying for this at a later stage could incur much higher costs.
- By booking at least seven days in advance, you could reduce travel costs by up to 25%.
- By making use of a travel management company (TMC) to assist in planning your trip, you will find that the services prove to be cost effective, allow for the fastest routing and ultimately assist in making the best purchasing decisions.
Travellers should keep abreast of what’s happening in a destination, and that all potential pain points have been diagnosed so any nasty surprises, and costs, are kept to a minimum.
4 things your travellers can be smart about when travelling
- Grab a piece of fruit from the breakfast buffet for a snack during the day and consider buying meals from a supermarket, e.g. a sandwich instead of take-aways.
- Switch off data roaming and depending on how long you’ll be staying, buy a local sim card or make use of the free hotel WiFi whenever possible.
- Consider all the touch points you will have during your trip and look at what you can pre-pay in rand, instead of settling the bill in foreign currency.
- By using a TMC like Flight Centre Business Travel (FCBT), you will be privy to benefits such as billback services where all additional bills for accommodation and car hire can be billed back to the TMC which will then be able to provide you with one consolidated invoice. Ultimately, this reduces the need to keep slips and submit laborious expense claims.
Often the best way to plan ahead is to test the waters first and then better plan for the future. FCBT suggests performing an ‘autopsy’ on all travel to leverage what worked and change what didn’t for future business travel trips
4 things your travellers can be smart about upon their return
- Submit all expenses pertaining to the trip timeously and weigh these against the ROI of the trip to ensure that the time spent in a destination and the results achieved match the output.
- Examine which costs could have been eliminated in retrospect.
- What were some of the pain points along the journey that can be shared with other staff so that they are prevented in future?
- Use data to forecast future travel behaviour. Is a particular member of your team more prone to make lots of last-minute flight changes and incur costs? Do your travellers prefer dinner at the hotel to breakfast? Having this knowledge will help you proactively manage your travel in future and save costs.