There’s no so such thing as too small when it comes to travel deals

Partnering with a travel management company will save your company both money and time

09 May 2018 - 14:39
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Image: 123RF/MichaelJung

If you’re a business owner or any director and don’t travel frequently, you might brush off the idea of negotiating corporate travel deals as unfeasible, unrealistic or something only big companies do.

The truth is there’s no such thing as being too small when it comes to negotiating travel deals. In fact, travel professionals will tell you that negotiating preferred agreements could just be a smart way for you to reduce your company expenses.

If the idea of wheeling and dealing with airlines and hotel chains gives you anxiety, partnering with a travel management company (TMC) such as Flight Centre Business Travel (FCBT) is a good option.

By teaming up with a travel professional, you can piggyback off their existing relationships with suppliers and their global buying power and benefit from reduced rates and special privileges such as not having to pay a hefty deposit when you rent a vehicle. And should something go wrong, your TMC will know who to call to sort it out quickly.

Corporate agreements aren’t the only way travel management companies such as FCBT can help you save time and money.

Some companies opt to do a lot of things internally instead of outsourcing to reduce costs: from reconciling expenses to updating websites and answering customer queries. But this could actually end up costing you a lot more than enlisting a travel professional.

The true cost of DIY Travel

Imagine all the time spent comparing flight costs and travel times, getting to the airport to catch the red-eye flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, only to realise you’ve booked it from Cape Town to Johannesburg. And take into consideration  the time and money wasted having to change the booking, wait for the next flight, possibly reschedule all your meetings, and miss an opportunity to conclude an important deal.

“Quite often, when you’re running a business and trying to organise your own travel, you’ll consider the immediate implication of cost, without thinking about how that decision could have impact down the line and actually cost you and your business a whole lot more,” says Ryan Potgieter, Flight Centre Business Travel brand leader.

A practical example of this is booking the cheapest airfare, which is fine as long as your business does not require you to be flexible. “A good travel expert will work with you and understand your company well enough to advise that you would be better served with a more flexible ticket because you are prone to changing your travel plans frequently,” says Potgieter, adding that every change on a cheap ticket can incur hefty penalties.

You’re never too small for a travel policy

Guidelines on travel arrangements should be clear for everyone in the company, even if you work with a small team. But, does it really make sense to craft a proper travel policy for yourself and your staff that dictates the terms under which travel is planned, approved, booked and carried out?

Potgieter says: “Just because you may be a smaller business, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a travel policy. If anything, it’s even more reason to have one. Smaller companies typically don’t have the buffer bigger businesses have when it comes to wastage. A travel policy helps you keep track of what you’re spending on your business travel, as well as puts in place rules that avoid unnecessary expenditure.”

Among the advantages of a travel policy are:

  • streamlining processes such as booking, expense reconciliation and reimbursement;
  • helping to eliminate fraud;
  • assisting with reducing traveller friction; and
  • empowering you to negotiate with suppliers based on company needs.

What is included in your travel policy will depend on your company and its requirements, but essentially it is important to provide some flexibility and be consultative in its drafting process.

“A freedom within framework approach is always best when it comes to business travel. Give your travellers a range of options that fit within the travel policy so that they have some choice on where to stay, for example,” says Potgieter.

As a business owner, you’re likely to have adapted a growth mindset when it comes to your profitability, client base, market share and your business. It’s time to adopt the same mindset for your corporate travel requirements.

Flight Centre Business Travel offers some insights into when it makes sense to turn to a travel expert and what you should include in your travel policy.

Stop scouring the web for hours to organise your next business trip. Call Flight Centre Business Travel on 0877 40 51 60 or visit www.fcbt.co.za for the travel expertise you need to grow your business.

This article was paid for by Flight Centre Business Travel.

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