Business travel can be quite an expensive affair. China and the United States alone contributed to nearly $600 billion US dollars worth of business travel last year. It is estimated that close to 16 percent of all international trips and 34 percent of domestic trips are for business purposes. Besides the cost of the flying itself, traveling for business also includes the cost of hotels, cabs, and airport transfers. All of this can easily add up, especially if you are a bootstrapped business traveler. In this article, we will take a look at five ways to minimize the cost of business travel.
1. Fly the Same Airline/Alliance
It can be tempting to fly the cheapest airline each time you travel., but in doing so, you are denying yourself an opportunity to accumulate frequent flyer miles. By sticking to one airline (or alliance), you get to quickly accumulate airline miles that may be redeemed for free flights in future.
There are a few things to remember here. First, you may sign up for more than one frequent flyer program so that even if you fly a different airline each time, you still get to accumulate miles. Secondly, many frequent flyer programs allow their members to redeem miles for flights that they have already flown. So in case you have already flown an airline a few times recently, remember to sign up and redeem these miles as well.
2. Use Off-Site Parking
Domestic business trips seldom last more than a couple of days. For such short trips, hiring a cab for airport transfer can work out to be expensive. For instance, if you are in Los Angeles, the average trip to the airport from LA downtown could be $50 (that is, $100 both ways). Shuttles are cheaper but inconvenient since they may not always fly from your neighborhood.
A great alternative is driving your own car to and from the airport, but with the daily parking rates hovering between $25 to $30 in most major airports, this may not be the cheapest option either. For long-term savings, a good idea is to use off-site parking services that are located conveniently close to major airports.
The average off-site parking cost is $15 per day, and this is just half the price of airport parking. If you run a business with 100 trips each month and assume each trip is two days long, you could potentially save as much as $3000 each month by just using these offsite parking services.
3. Book Hotel Chains
Most business travelers are aware of frequent flyer miles, and use it to save money. These travelers often fail to seek similar loyalty rewards from the hotels that they stay in. If you are someone who travels across the country or the world, a good way to save money is by booking rooms in hotel chains instead of stand-alone establishments. Such loyalty not only helps you save money, but can also help you win favors from the hotel management in terms of preferred rooms or extra amenities.
4. Avoid Cash
A business traveler to San Francisco is estimated to spend $509.50 each day on an average for food, car rental and hotel. At a national level too, the average daily cost for meals and car rentals work out to around $96.89 and $46.89 respectively.
A great way to save money is by avoiding cash completely during business trips. Using corporate cards earns you reward points that may be redeemed in future for other purchases. For instance, Amex cards routinely reward you with 1 point for every dollar spent. Which means, twenty days in San Francisco would earn you enough points to cover the cost of a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
5. Create a Travel Calendar
Your travel dates may depend on a multitude of factors, and this may make it difficult to book your trips in advance. But if you are a sales manager traveling the country to simply meet with your regional associates or to keep in touch with your clients, making last minute bookings may work out to be expensive.
A good idea is to prepare a travel calendar that you can share with your associates and clients in advance so that they may schedule their appointments accordingly. A travel calendar also helps you identify peak travel times for specific routes which you may avoid. For instance, international trips to India may be expensive during the local festival season in October, while similar trips to China may be expensive during their new year in February. A travel calendar helps you prepare for such expensive seasons in advance.
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