3 ways to boost your startup’s business travel budget

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Last summer, the Global Business Travel Association reported that global spending on business travel increased 5% between 2014 and 2015, reaching a total of $ 1.2 trillion. This figure is expected to reach $ 1.3 trillion by the end of 2016 and grow steadily by 5.8% over the next five years. By 2020, it is expected to exceed $ 1.6 trillion.

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For the most part, this news comes as no surprise. New capabilities for video conferencing, mobile collaboration, cloud access and data sharing were expected to reduce business travel. For a long time, we were told that the internet would connect business people as faithfully as any conference room.

However, the continued growth in spending on business travel suggests that there is always something unique of value in a face-to-face meeting. When businessmen can interact directly, this action eliminates common communication problems, introduces body language and emotional cues into the conversation, and speeds up the transfer of ideas.

Plus, since no technology can replicate the experience of an in-person meeting, the obvious conclusion is that business travel will continue to be a major expense for the business for the foreseeable future.

But business travel, as everyone knows, is expensive. Large companies may be able to absorb the blow, but small businesses and startups are already struggling to cover the costs. To keep up with rising travel spending, startups will have to look for cost savings elsewhere.

Here are three ways you can jumpstart your business travel budget, so you can do more with less:

1. Create a comprehensive travel plan.

Small businesses are estimated to spend 19.7% more on business travel than large companies, according to Concur Technologies, in large part due to disorganization. Small business travel budgets often do not factor in the full cost of the trip.

Fortunately, however, in a survey conducted by ACTE of travel managers, 51% said they hoped to introduce a ‘total cost of travel’ approach in their organizations so that they could start to manage this expense from one place to another. macro point of view.

The message here? View all your travel expenses in a consolidated manner, using an easily accessible and systemic travel policy. For example, Seagate, a data storage solutions company, has an incredibly detailed corporate travel policy hosted on its website so employees can access it at any time. When everyone travels the same way, businesses can take meaningful steps to reduce costs.

Related: 11 Strategies For More Efficient Business Travel

Start by describing the policies, practices, and preferences that guide how everyone in your organization approaches business travel. List the travel and entertainment items you’re willing to cover, such as airline tickets, guest entertainment, meals, and ground transportation.

2. Specify any restrictions.

Next, describe any restrictions or booking guidelines in those categories. For example, when it comes to booking a flight, set guidelines for what class of service to use. If a flight lasts less than five hours, for example, you can order that employees book economy class and, for longer flights, first class.

Enter your airline, hotel, rental car, etc. preferred suppliers, as well as the payment process for these items (company card against personal card). It is also crucial to describe any items that your business will not pay for. These may include dry cleaning fees, parking tickets, tips from hotel staff, and flight cancellation fees.

Incorporate detailed expense reporting guidelines to reduce the risk of fraud – which, according to a 2016 Chrome River survey of more than 1,000 business travelers, costs U.S. businesses nearly $ 3 billion each year.

Be specific when asking business travelers for proof of payment. If employees need reimbursement for accommodation, have them submit itemized hotel bills, as opposed to credit card statements. A statement will show the overall cost of the stay, but a room bill will detail the costs, potentially revealing items your business doesn’t cover, such as movie rentals and minibar drinks.

3. Get buy-in from the whole company.

You only have a certain leverage to negotiate the costs. But you can encourage your employees to spend less when they travel. According to the ACTE survey, up to 84% of travel managers believed that achieving savings would be “a matter of managing demand and ensuring compliance.”

This means conditioning travelers to accept tighter budgets and technical adherence to new travel policies. It’s important that your travelers believe in and commit to your travel plan, so make sure any decisions or changes you make are handled transparently.

Deloitte has found that millennials, in particular, want to understand the “why” behind decisions, so be open and honest about certain rules – explaining that specific guidelines are there to minimize waste. Don’t be one of the 44% of companies that don’t solicit traveler reviews. If your teammates understand why you’re trying to cut costs, but also find that what you’re doing ensures that travel is always convenient and comfortable, they’ll be working with you rather than against you.

4. Separate “savings” from “sacrifice”.

If you want to motivate your employees to cut costs while they’re on the go, find a way to make it worthwhile. Consider allowing your Road Warriors to keep the loyalty points they accumulate on their travels, which they can then use for a well-deserved vacation. Or maybe reward them for traveling on a lower budget, with a gift card to their favorite restaurant.

Related: 4 Ways To Motivate Employees Without Budgeting For Bigger Salaries

Also look at non-traditional bonuses. According to Adam Grant, author and professor at The Wharton School, “Giving to support programs strengthens employees’ effective engagement with their organization by allowing them to see themselves and the organization in more prosocial and caring terms. “. With the right incentives, you can encourage cost-conscious travel without making your team feel short.

The future of your startup depends on your ability to travel, but its future also depends on your ability to stay on a budget. Commit to a sustainable travel policy and you will be in the best position to grow.