According to a recent report1 from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), business travel is going to be getting more expensive as we head into 2019. It says prices will rise "sharply," and that hotel rates will go up 3.7 percent, while flight rates will increase 2.6 percent.

According to the report: “Airfares are likely to become more expensive due to rising oil prices, the competitive pressure from the shortage of pilots, potential trade wars, and increasing fare segmentation to improve yield.”

Success, when it comes to saving your business money on rising travel costs, will only come if you make an effort to rein in extra spending.

Discuss expectations with employees

For starters, you can discuss your expectations for spending with employees who will be traveling on your company dollar. If they will be booking rooms, dining out, and/or obtaining transportation with company money, you should discuss in advance what options are acceptable and which are not. Hopefully, your employees will not be staying at the most expensive hotel in town, in the most expensive suite, and riding in limos all over town to the fanciest restaurants, but it's a good idea to let them know generally what kind of spending you are expecting them to do….before you see their expense reimbursement form.

You can provide a set per diem, or you can give them some flexibility with an honor system. If they have a general idea of your expectations, they will be less likely to significantly overspend, because they will realize how this reflects on them as an employee.

Do the booking yourself

You can, of course, do the booking yourself to be sure you are paying what you are comfortable with for rooms and flights. Doing the booking gives you more control over travel spending. It also ensures that employees aren’t spending valuable company time looking up reviews, comparing costs, checking out amenities, etc.

You should do your best to put employees into comfortable conditions, but you can do so without paying too much. Plenty of online travel sites can help you shop around for the best deals in the area to which you or employees will be traveling. It won't hurt to check multiple comparison sites for consistency.

Consider hidden costs at hotels.

Before you book a hotel room, be sure to look for hidden costs. These will vary from hotel to hotel, but if you can't find information on the hotel's website, you can call them and inquire about any costs that a stay might include. Such costs could include: parking, housekeeping, late checkout fees, refrigerator, resort fees or special taxes, etc. Be sure traveling employees are aware of costs and discuss which ones can and should be avoided.

Use rewards programs when you can

Look at options for rewards and rebates to save some money if business travel will be an ongoing expense. Look into frequent-flier programs and hotel loyalty programs that may significantly reduce costs over time and build up points for free stays. Most airlines and hotel chains have memberships you can join.

Business credit card perks

Look to see if you are using a business credit card that has travel perks, as well. Some offer discounts on hotels, flights, restaurants, and car rentals – all of which can save you money whether you or employees are traveling.

Book trips as early if you can

Sometimes business trips can come up without much warning, but if you can plan in advance, you may be able to save money. The earlier you can book flights, the better. As your travel date approaches, ticket prices are likely to rise. You also have more options when you book early. If you wait too long, you may have to settle for more expensive options.

The reality is that travel is rarely cheap to begin with, making it all the more important to look for savings where you can.

1. https://www.gbta.org/news-and-advocacy/newsroom/buoyant-global-economy-means-higher-hotel-and-air-prices-in-2019

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC