I was asked last week by PROFIT magazine to provide tips for small business owners to save money on their corporate travel budgets. As the owner of a corporate travel management company who deals with small and medium-sized businesses every day, my list of tips came pretty easily. Here are some of the money-saving highlights I shared with PROFIT:
- Look at the overall cost of a trip and not just the initial advertised prices. People can be lured by a great rate at the time of booking, then get burned in the end. I always recommend researching the checkout costs and incidentals for amenities like breakfast and parking. Best Western offers free high speed Internet, and parking and breakfast are usually included in the advertised rate.
- Book early! While the leisure travel industry has trained us to wait until the last minute to look for the best deals, this is not always wise for corporate travellers. If you book early you can save money, especially with airfare. If you’re someone who changes your travel plans frequently, you should still book early — but consider booking a flexible fare.
- Get paid for your loyalty. I am constantly telling our clients to pick a few really strong loyalty programs and travel with just them. Aeroplan is the most popular program in Canada and is perfect for air and car rentals with Avis. Best Western Rewards is also very lucrative, with no blackout dates to redeem (which is really unique for hotel chains), and a faster path to free room nights I also recommend joining CAA, even if you have existing roadside coverage, as the program gets you great discounts, like a nice discount at all Best Western hotels!
- Look at rental cars versus paying your employees a mileage allowance. According to Revenue Canada, the automobile allowance is $0.52 per kilometre. It’s a good idea on any trips over 200 km to compare the cost of a rental car versus paying per km. There are a number of innovative new programs for companies that rack up a lot of kilometres – car share programs, for instance, offer monthly rates for multiple employees.
These are just four tips of many from my recent interview. Any other tips you’d like to share to help our small- to medium-sized business owners out there?