Travel is the second largest controllable expense for most companies. Smaller companies are no exception to the rule and, particularly in the present economic climate, it is imperative for them to keep an eye on corporate travel spend and maximise their travel budgets.
It is generally believed that, due to the lesser scale of travel, small and mid-sized companies can find the best fares on the internet, using low-cost airlines and last-minute deals. While this is sometimes the case, it is important that smaller companies do not jump on the lowest advertised fare because, depending on their requirements, restrictions and hidden charges prevent these fares from translating into the cheapest option. Travellers may need to amend their plans at the last minute and low-cost airlines will always charge a hefty premium for making these changes. It is important to remember that low-cost airlines do not always offer the lowest fares as scheduled carriers also offer very competitive prices.
Undoubtedly, small and mid-sized companies have fewer resources to dedicate to travel management. A Travel Management Company (TMC) can effectively advise smaller companies on how to best leverage their budgets and which travel options will suit their travel needs. They can benefit from a larger TMC’s buying power and relationship with suppliers, and take advantage of their ability to negotiate lower fares and rates. For instance, negotiated hotel deals can save companies money if the company can guarantee a minimum number of hotel nights per year. If their volumes are not sufficient to achieve preferred rates, the TMC should be able to offer special fares and rates which are uniquely available to them.
TMCs can now offer small and mid-sized companies a customised service that includes online travel reservation software which searches for the lowest available fare and is aligned to a smaller company’s specified requirements. Companies can then choose to book via a tailored online portal or via experienced business travel consultants on the telephone. This can also be particularly useful when travellers are short on time and need a personalised one-stop-shop where they can book all their travel and be presented with creative ways to manage their travel expenditure.
The access to expert travel consultants’ advice and 24/7 global support offered by a TMC is invaluable when booking a complex trip. TMCs also ensure that all travel is properly tracked so that travel managers can easily pull up reports and statistics on how their employees travel, to ensure it is in line with the company’s travel policy.
Small and mid-sized companies should certainly consider booking as far in advance as possible. This will often mean they will be able to get more value for money and be able to access the lowest fares. Not only will air and rail journeys be cheaper, but they will have better choice of travel times to accommodate their needs.
It is clear that in the current climate all companies are looking to control costs, whatever their size. As travel is such a large proportion of a company’s cost, a strong travel policy is more important than ever to help implement effective travel expenditure that can generate significant savings, whilst still providing a consistent, quality service to travelling employees.
We can help you save money no matter how large or small your travel programme is. Why not get in touch today.