7 ways to maximise your business’s travel budget
Business travel can be a big expenditure — second only to payroll in some organisations!
It’s also a variable cost. The time of year and time of day your employees choose to travel has an impact on your overall spend. Hitting your goals can feel like a moving target.
If you need help capitalising on your business’s travel budget, check out our insider tips below — and start putting your travel budget to work.
7 insider tips for a tighter business travel budget
1. Book early
It’s true: you can sometimes nab a good deal when you book a day or so before you travel. But you can’t guarantee last-minute availability, and prices can go up, rather than down.
The safest bet? You’ve heard it before: book early.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that early. Hotels generally offer the best prices two to three weeks before the dates of travel. With train travel, the sweet spot is around 12 weeks before. Get your train tickets at this point and you could save a bundle.
The same tip generally applies to booking other means of transport, like flights and car rentals. A little planning ahead goes a long way.
2. Consider the scale of your business travel
Budget-conscious travellers typically don’t book the first hotel that comes up in a search. Spending a little time shopping around can save you a lot.
But if you’re planning travel for several employees, will you have the time to hunt for the best rates on an online booking tool designed with personal travel in mind?
Will you be able to keep track of multiple guests, itineraries, and costs?
Using the right platform can save you valuable time and help your travel budget go further. With Hotel Engine, it’s easy to compare prices and facilities at thousands of hotels across the country. And because we’ve already negotiated deals with a range of leading hotel chains, you can expect to save significantly on your hotel bookings over consumer rates.
3. Set clear travel budget limits ahead of time
Letting employees book their own travel and accommodation? You need to make sure that they understand (and stick to) the travel budget limits you put in place.
Communicate limits clearly. Make sure everyone understands it’s a team effort, and then consider setting up incentives for those who stick to your travel budget.
Alternatively, utilise the built-in budgeting tools of platforms like Hotel Engine. Hotel Engine’s Travel Policies feature allows you to apply budget limits to each employee account automatically.
That means that employees can book their own accommodations, but only if they fall within the specified range — so you can keep your spending on track.
4. Set realistic food and drink limits
Take care when setting food and drink limits. While your travellers may not need Michelin star menus, you don’t want to ruin their experience with unfair expectations. Know what’s covered by per diem allowances and then be prepared to add a little extra, depending on the destination. For example, London is a more expensive city than Leeds — so you’ll need to give your staff a greater food and drink budget when they travel to the capital.
Ultimately, making team members aware of expense limits will help to ensure nobody spends more than you’ve authorised.
5. …and look for hotels with meals included
While your travellers may not take advantage of every free opportunity, choosing a hotel with one or more meals included in the nightly rate is a great way to help them extend their travel budget, particularly if they have a per diem, scale rate or round sum allowance.
It can also be an additional help to employees travelling to rural areas, where there are fewer outside options for food and drink.
6. Consider flexible reservations
Sometimes travel plans change. Projects get pushed back, meetings get cancelled. When these circumstances arise, the best defence for your budget is a flexible or refundable booking.
True, flexible bookings sometimes come at a price premium — but if you’re regularly having to rebook non-refundable travel, it may save you money in the long run.
For train travel, booking a flexi-ticket that can be used any time over a specified time period is a fairly straightforward process, and often worth the money. But finding a hotel with the right cancellation policy can be tricky.
With Hotel Engine, you can see each hotel’s refund policy at the time of booking, and with up to 60% better rates than consumer hotel prices, flexibility is more affordable than ever.
7. Reflect with reporting tools
Don’t close the books when the reimbursements have gone through. With the right travel budget insight, you can see where you’ve been spending the most money and identify where savings can be made.
If manually analysing travel costs across your company is too time-consuming, leverage a platform instead. Solutions like Hotel Engine provide robust reporting on your travel spending, trip modifications, etc — in real time. You can track how costs are changing (on almost a daily basis in the UK right now!) and see when your total costs exceed your budgeted spend.
The result of all this valuable data? Travel budgets that make sense — and that go a bit further too.
Keep to your company’s travel budget with Hotel Engine
For companies looking to keep their travel budgets on track, Hotel Engine offers a range of great features and tools:
Exclusive savings on hotel bookings when you search, compare and book through our platform
No contracts or expensive membership fees
No minimum spend required
Easy-to-use reporting tools analysing how your money is being spent
Make the most of your travel budget. Sign up for a free account today.
Erin Sayer is the Senior Growth Marketing Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days keeping a pulse on growth trends, and finding and activating new and unique ways to grow businesses. When she’s not doing ‘all the growth things’, Erin loves spending time on the water or up in the mountains with her 2 favorite Australian Shepherds. She’s is also a self-proclaimed book nerd and true crime junkie.