Large organisations tend to have travel managers and administration staff to look after employees’ accommodation and ticket bookings, but as a small-business leader you probably have to let your employees arrange their own travel, or take care of it yourself. At best you might have a manager or staff member who juggles travel research and reservation with a hundred other tasks.
Arranging travel for yourself and/or your staff can take up valuable time which would be more profitably spent on other activities, especially if frequent travel requirements exist.
Small businesses often make undesirable trade-offs when arranging business travel. For example, do you spend time on research to get the best from your travel budget or just get trips booked and off the to-do list as quickly as possible?
Small Business Travel Booking Made Smarter
If you identify with the difficulties of small business travel research and reservations, the following three tips might help you take some pain out of the process and reduce the total costs of working away from the office.
- Use Serviced Apartments: If your employees travel in small groups and/or spend a while at a single location, investigate the cost of serviced apartments as an alternative to hotel rooms. Not only does this reduce the cost of accommodation, but the booking process is a bit quicker. After all, you are only reserving one unit, instead of multiple hotel rooms.
- Don’t assume cheapest price means best choice: When you loathe to waste time and money, it’s tempting to find and book the cheapest accommodation in the vicinity of the travel destination and have done. However, in certain cases this can be a costly mistake.
- If the cheap accommodation you just booked is some distance from the working location, you or your staff might spend more time and money getting to work than if you had booked more expensive, but conveniently located lodgings.
- Commuting time from lodgings to the work location could potentially cost more than that which you might have spent targeting value rather than price. So if you really want to keep travel costs to a minimum, it pays to consider the big picture.
- Avoid Last-minute Travel Arrangements: When you’re in business, travel at short notice sometimes becomes a necessity. However, small-business owners and managers often make the classic mistake of leaving travel research and reservation to the last moment, even for trips which have been on the radar for months.
Last-minute travel booking is an easy mistake to make when the number one priority is to keep the business running—but it’s a mistake which costs money. Booking tickets and accommodation at the eleventh hour leaves you short on options and almost certainly costs more than arrangements made early. If you’re in this habit, it’s definitely one to try and kick.
Alternatives to DIY Business Travel Research
The tips above should help to make business travel reservations a bit less onerous and might yield some cost savings too. However, if you want to eliminate time spent on travel research and reservations, there are a couple of ways to outsource the effort.
For instance, a business-travel agency or service provider may offer technology to take the effort out of arranging travel. Solutions include online portals for employees to make reservations, with built-in enforcement of travel policies.
Another option—one which will save even more time for your people, is to ask a virtual assistant to take over the travel research and reservations for your company.
After a little initial training to familiarise a VA with your travel policies, you or your employees will need to do little more than send him/her the details of travel dates and requirements. The virtual assistant will do the rest. All that’s left is to pack a bag or two, say cheerio, and decide how to make profitable use of the time you gained for your business.