Outside the Box Solutions to Rising Gas Expenses in Business Travel
If you’re an operations or finance manager trying to figure out how to get around these rising gas and travel prices, you aren’t alone.
Yes, petroleum and fuel prices are surging.
But thankfully, there are options.
The world may be looking at a global energy crisis of sorts, but it doesn’t have to spell doom for your business travel budget.
So here’s the real question:
How are you, the operations or finance manager at a medium to large-sized business, going to save your company money despite rising prices?
What options can you bring to your boss when you’re tasked with finding solutions?
Well, the outlook may be better than you think.
Because you’re not out of options.
And in this post, you’re going to learn seven tips for staying ahead of surging fuel prices to keep costs under control in these interesting times.
1. Get Strategic
You may be able to save money you didn’t even know that you were spending by taking a closer look at your travel plans.
Are you sending a team to Kansas City, then to St. Louis immediately after?
Think about which is a more cost-effective option — driving rental cars or flying.
Depending on gas prices and available airline deals, flying might actually be cheaper.
Oftentimes, companies make travel decisions without anyone taking the time to go over the premiums (and their alternatives). But, reviewing all of your options with a fine-tooth comb might reveal some surprising savings opportunities.
Also, You May Not Need to Send Your Entire Team to Every Meeting/Project
When it comes to more expensive trips, consider cutting back on non-essential team members.
In theory, sending four people instead of five saves you 20% on that particular trip (which helps to curb those extra price hikes due to gasoline expenses).
(That new intern may be disappointed that they don’t get to go. But hey, business is business. And you’ve got a job to do!)
2. Rethink Your Corporate Travel Policy
Sometimes, overhauling your travel policy can help you to find extra money in unexpected places.
And this, of course, can help you to cut into the losses incurred by the rising cost of gasoline—as well as other ‘unexpected’ costs.
(“What? You went to a hockey game and bought a signed jersey on the company card? No, I don’t think we can include that as a write-off…”)
For example, you can institute an expense-approval process to make sure that your team isn’t spending too much on non-essential stuff.
This can help you in many ways:
- Cut back on expenses that won’t qualify for tax deductions
- Reduce needless business miles
- Make sure that you always rent the most fuel efficient rental car
For a more detailed breakdown of how to adjust company mileage policies in a world where fuel prices, mileage deductions, and tax forms are getting more and more complicated, check out this guide: How to Adjust Company Mileage Policies When Gas Prices Skyrocket.
3. Book Cheaper Flights
Yes, it’s easy to pull up a travel booking site and click “Book Flight” on the first decent option you see.
It’s also convenient. And we get that time is a valuable resource that you can’t afford to waste.
But if you’re willing to spend a bit more time researching and comparing prices, there are a lot of ways to save some extra money on flights.
Here are some strategies that can help you cut down on air travel costs:
- Shopping for flights mid-week
- Comparing prices out of different airports
- Checking deal sites and airline websites
- Looking for package deals
- Booking a red eye flight
- Signing up for email list to receive sales and promotions
- Making full use of reward programs
4. Cut Down on Hotel Costs
Hotels make up a significant portion of travel spending.
But as with flight tickets, there are ways to save money here.
Hotel Engine can help with this by getting you amazing deals on corporate lodging.
Our services are free to use, but we save our customers up to 60% on business lodging at more than 700,000 partner hotels worldwide.
Other options can include:
Comparing Different Hotel Prices
Finding the best hotel option for your money may take a bit more time than just searching, clicking, and buying.
But it’ll save you a lot of cash.
Check out our guide: How to Find the Best Hotel for the Value.
It’ll give you some tips on leveling up your team’s lodging accommodations while protecting your company’s bottom line.
Booking a Hotel That’s a Little Further Away
This isn’t something that most people think of.
But, you can actually save quite a bit of money in some cases by choosing a hotel room option in a different district or a little ways outside of town.
There may be a shuttle from the hotel to the area where your team is working. But even if they have to drive, the reduced lodging rates could make up for the added fuel costs.
Negotiating Your Rate
As a general rule, it’s pretty easy to get 10% off of room rates simply by asking.
Of course, Hotel Engine takes care of this for you by delivering top-notch room options at already discounted prices (often way more than 10%).
You can also submit RFPs to hotels to find the best group room rates available from lodging providers in the area.
Booking With Hotels That Offer Flexible Policies
In some cases, you can take advantage of flexible rate options to book cheaper hotels.
5. Consider Using Per Diem Instead Of an Accountable Plan
They both have their advantages and their disadvantages, and you need to do specific things with each to keep from affecting your employees’ gross income for that tax year. (As taxpayers, they’ll thank you for this when they file their next income tax return.)
Truth be told, if you give your team the option to choose how to spend their travel budget money, you may end up with a more cost-effective outcome.
This is especially true when the corporate travel expense budget has an automatic cap on it.
In certain situations, it may help you to save money you didn’t even realize was available.
6. Institute an Incentive Program for Travelers Who Save The Company Money
Consider rewarding the employees who save the company a certain amount of money with extra bonuses, vacation time, paid time off, or even some leisure travel.
You could institute a program where you use the standard mileage rate to reimburse traveling team members who volunteer to start commuting to remote job locations in their personal vehicles (instead of a rental).
Some employees may not go for this, as vehicle expenses like maintenance costs and gas mileage may make it infeasible.
But for some people — especially self-employed contractors — the vehicle deductions gained by using their personal car is not only helpful from a tax savings perspective, but also worth the extra bonus rewards from the company.
Or, you could also institute some kind of ‘health incentive’ program for team members who opt to walk short distances instead of drive — which also helps you to avoid those pesky parking fees.
Of course, every situation will be a little bit different. Number-crunching, with the help of your company’s CPA, may be the best course of action to help you help your team figure out what will cost less and save them the most.
7. Start Planning Ahead for The Future
Unfortunately, this fuel crisis doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
For that reason, it may pay to start thinking about how to mitigate this issue in a more ‘permanent’ way in the future.
Here are some examples of what we mean:
- Adjusting your pricing to account for higher fuel costs
- Planning future travel far in advance to beat price increases
- Getting creative with how you get boots on the ground in places where you travel to on a regular basis
Some of these options may not be ideal for your company. But the idea is to think outside of the box to find unorthodox ways to cut costs.
Will Gas Prices Be Going Down Anytime Soon?
The national average for gas prices is at the highest it’s been in seven years.
Yeah, it’s high. Anyone who’s touched a gas nozzle in the past month knows this.
But is it going to last?
That’s a really important question that a lot of business owners have been asking themselves.
Is this a storm that businesses are just going to have to weather? Or is this a sign of permanent change that’ll forever shape how some companies do business?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure.
But according to economists and professionals in the world market space, there is a hope that prices will start to decrease.
It’s just going to take some time for supply to catch up to the drop-off that was created during the COVID lockdowns.
But as we move into 2022 and beyond, we may begin to see gas prices slowly come down.
And with them, we may actually see travel prices decrease, as well.
There you have it — seven tips for how to plan business travel around surging gasoline prices.
Now, with these tips in hand, it’s time to make a plan and execute.
In these difficult times, there’s one thing that all businesses must keep in mind:
The show must go on.
Gas prices may be high, but there’s still business to be done.
So be encouraged. Get out there, do your thing, and change the world.
You’ve got this.
And if you ever need a hotel room (and want to save some money on it) … well, remember that Hotel tEngine is right here to make it happen.
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.