Technology is making it easier and more cost-efficient to connect business owners with their partners and clients, especially when the two are in different parts of the country or world. However, chatting via Skype doesn’t always match up to a face-to-face meeting.
Sometimes traveling for business is necessary but it can be expensive, especially for an owner on a small-business budget. You have to worry about flights, hotel costs, transportation, food and maybe even one night of splurging to try to impress your potential client.
Here are 8 ways your small business can save money on your business travel plans.
Use Alternate Airports – If you’re flying to and from a major city, like Miami and Los Angeles, lower-cost airlines typically fly routes from secondary airports. Instead of selecting to fly out of MIA and into LAX, select ‘ALL nearby airports’ when doing your travel research to find cheaper flights leaving from Ft. Lauderdale and going to Oakland or San Jose. You may need to take a shuttle or taxi to your final destination, but it may be worth it if you save enough on your flight.
Use Less Popular (and Less Expensive) Travel Options – People who travel often tend to have their loyalties to a specific airline, hotel chain or rental car company. When it comes to traveling for business, especially last-minute business travel, you don’t always have the option to be selective. If it’s considerably cheaper by a long run to fly Spirit, JetBlue or Frontier, then it needs to be done to save your small business a buck. The same goes for your hotel options, of course.
Leave Your Baggage at Home – There is only one airline that doesn’t charge baggage fees. If you want to save money, you need to leave your closet at home. For every three shirts you bring, you are allowed one pair of pants. Wearing the same bottoms again is more acceptable than repeating a shirt. Also, look online for tips on how to efficiently pack your bag.
Check Cancellation and Change Policies – As a businessman or woman, you know that things come up. Plans change, meetings get canceled, and you get stuck with the fees. Some booking sites and airlines might allow you to cancel, without having to pay fees, if you cancel within 24 hours of the purchase. Other airlines, like Southwest, don’t even have change or cancellation fees.
Look for Travel Packages – If you book any combination of a flight, hotel and rental car, you can usually save money on the bundle. Check sites like Expedia for offers and compare the package prices to the individual costs. Sometimes finding the right combination and package can be a little bit of trial and error. Also, consider using a service like Rocketrip as a cost-saving alternative to business travel.
Use a Credit Card with Benefits – Some credit cards provide insurance that can be applied to anything travel related – rental cars, flights, hotels. If your card is equipped with this feature, you can decline the collision damage coverage that the rental companies try to sell you. This will probably save you about $10 to $30 a day.
Fill Up Your Rental Car Yourself – When renting a car, there’s always the option to leave the refueling up to the company. They try to tell you that it’s half the price if you prepay for a full tank. But in reality, you could fill up the tank, drive 50 miles, return the car, and you still wouldn’t incur any fueling charges.
Use Public Transportation – If you’re traveling to a metropolis, you should consider skipping the car rental entirely. If you come from a place where the closest you get to public transportation is the escalator in a mall, this might even be exciting for you. In a big city, like Chicago and New York for example, there are tens or hundreds of apps that can help you get around. In some cases, it may even be easier to take public transportation than to drive around for hours in traffic.
Earn Stays and Miles – Hopefully through your entire trip, you were using a credit card that was racking up points and miles to use for your next business excursion. It’s better to use your rewards and miles for business travel than leisure because your options are generally more limited when it comes to booking for business, therefore increasing costs.
By using some of these small business travel tips, you may be able to save your company a ton of money over the long-term. You’ll be surprised by how much will add up when you save a little here and a little there with minimal effort.