Often SMEs rely on an office manager or PA to source the best deals in the belief this is the most cost effective way to control travel budgets.
Sometimes, travellers book trips themselves – they have favourite hotels and airlines and they assume that if they know how to book the family holiday, it can’t be any different buying business travel.
Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth and this ad hoc approach can cost SMEs valuable time and money.
By following these seven steps, SMEs will be able to successfully buy travel smarter, get more for their money and cut costs by up to 20 per cent.
Step one – Put someone in charge
The first step is to nominate a travel manager; a person within your company whose responsibility it is to manage travel booking. Then get them to create a travel policy.
A travel policy sits at the heart of any successful corporate travel programme. It helps to control spending by encouraging travellers to book ahead and look at the total cost of travel, for example.
It can also steer the travel booker/individual travellers towards using preferred suppliers (loyalty pays) while also giving them enough flexibility to meet their trip needs.
Step two – Avoid online leisure travel agents
Online leisure travel agents eat up your time and charge hidden fees. If you know what you want to book, go direct – you’ll get better service and equally good prices – or move on to step three…
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Step three – Consider using a travel management company
Travel management companies (TMCs) can save you money and sign you up for reward schemes – double win. If you book overseas travel, find a TMC that is a member of a global consortium and one that provides a 24-hour service so that you know your travellers are always connected, monitored and looked after.
If you have a small business travel budget, then a mid-sized TMC will work better for you. Choose one can look after everything – not just reservations, but security tracking, mobile apps and live bookings, too.
Step four – Always book ahead
No matter how you book your travel or who you book it with, always, always book ahead. Planning ahead can help you buy quality services for less. For air travel, consider flying mid-week or out of season, purchasing a multi-city ticket rather than a round trip fare, bundle your flights with your accommodation. For rail, never ever buy at the station. You will pay 30-40 per cent more.
Continue reading on the next page for why it pays to be loyal, the importance of knowing the security and safety of travellers and their policies, and also why you should consider the disruptive suppliers on the market.
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