At the start of the new financial year, Diversity Travel managing director Chris Airey shares his top tips for making your business travel budget go further.
Diversity Travel specialises in the charity and academic sectors, and was the winner of the 2014 Business Travel Awards Best TMC, in the under £50m annual UK sales category.
1. Are your arrangers booking early enough?
It may be a cliche but it’s true: the later you book, the more you pay. By running a standard advance booking report for all your flights, hotels, rail and car-hire, we can work how far in advance your arrangers are enquiring about and booking travel and tighten up if necessary. By booking just a month earlier, you could save up to 20% on your flight budget.
2. Are your arrangers choosing the cheapest air fare options?
If not, why not? You need to know. Your TMC should provide fare savings reports that clearly illustrate where arrangers have not chosen the cheapest price and the reason why – and how much it cost you. This can be pretty powerful stuff for booker training and advice sessions; you can demonstrate clearly the savings that can be achieved if your staff stick to this simple policy.
3. Are you spending more than you need to on change and cancellation fees?
This could be the case if your arrangers are booking fares that look cheap, such as those offered by low-cost carriers, but don’t actually offer enough flexibility for your needs.
4. Are your arrangers making the most of their flexibility on dates?
Your TMC’s reservations consultants should be achieve significant savings for clients by moving dates a day or two either way. So make sure you keep your TMC informed if there is leeway to do this.
5. Should you be joining airline corporate loyalty schemes?
These can free up vital extra travel funds by accruing points for your organisation rather than the individual whenever a staff member travels with a particular airline or alliance of airlines. Schemes are available with a growing number of carriers including British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air France/KLM. The benefits, including free flights and cashback, can then be ploughed back into your budget.
6. Are you managing your hotel policy as well as you could?
After flights, hotels usually take up the next biggest slice of your budget. We can help you significantly reduce the cost of your hotel spend by identifying a limited number of properties in key locations that fit your criteria and then negotiating the best possible rates on your behalf, based on your volume of spend. This can give you much greater control of your budget, and also, by centralising your booking and invoicing, save you the time it takes to process numerous expense claims.
7. Are you making the most of group airline rates?
If you have 10 or more people travelling and returning on the same flights, our specialist group travel team will negotiate with every airline operating your required route to find the best group rates possible. These offer you the ability to pay a deposit to reserve the seats for your group up to 11 months in advance, only paying the balance and providing the names eight weeks before travel. There is often the flexibility for a couple of people to return on a different date, too. They will always check individual fares as well to see if these are cheaper before presenting you with a complete range of options.
8. Are you overlooking your rail costs?
The fares may be lower than for flights but they really add up. And employees may be less concerned about cost-effectiveness, because the amounts aren’t as great: for instance, waiting until the last minute to book a ticket. Your TMC should be able to produce reports showing you exactly how far in advance people are booking their rail travel, what kind of tickets they are buying and how much they’re paying. You can use these reports to drive behaviour changes through internal communications and webinar training.
9. Is your organisation eligible for charity fares?
Registered charities are eligible for charity air fares. There are different types of these available, depending on the nature of a charity’s work. Diversity Travel has negotiated fares with 36 different airlines, which offer benefits such as the ability to hold bookings provisionally for 11 months without payment, and the waiving of change or cancellation fees on last-minute changes.
10. Have you reviewed your travel policy recently?
As your organisational priorities change, your travel patterns will often change too. For example, have your top destinations changed? If so, do you need to revisit your route deals or preferred hotel strategies? Have you got more and more people booking their own travel, when it might be more cost-effective to have a limited number of people managing this? Your TMC account manager should review your management information on a regular basis – at least once a year, but usually much more often – to ensure you continue to get the absolute maximum from your budgets.