Business Travel on a Budget: 13 Tips for Savvy Entrepreneurs
Without a doubt, businesses of all sizes spend a lot of money on business travel. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) projected total business travel spending would hit $302.7 billion in the U.S. alone.
This leads to the question: What exactly are business travelers spending all this money on?
The Cost of Business Travel
As you probably already know, business travel can easily become a burdensome and expensive venture. However, the people who probably feel the pinch the hardest are small business owners and entrepreneurs. Unlike corporate employees with expense accounts, the expenses for travel often come out of their own pockets.
CreditDonkey provides the following information concerning typical travel-related costs:
- Hotels rates can certainly add up to hundreds of dollars, especially if you are taking a lengthy business trip. According to Business Travel News’ 2015 Corporate Travel Index, the average per diem rate for a hotel stay is $163.13.
- Eating out at restaurants can cost as much as $96.89 on average per day.
- If you must rent a car, the average daily rate for business travelers is $46.89 according to the Corporate Travel Index.
- If you’re traveling by air, you’ll be spending even more. The average airline ticket price for domestic travel in 2015 was $386.89 (includes reservation change fees and baggage fees). For international flights, you can expect to pay around $1,004.00.
When some of us think of business travel, we automatically assume that flying is involved since it’s quick and convenient. Surprisingly, however, the percentage of people traveling by air is probably less than you might think.
Here are more interesting statistics from CreditDonkey:
- According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 74% of business travelers visit a destination that is fewer than 250 miles from home.
- The median one-way distance for business trips is 123 miles.
- According to the U.S. Travel Association, 48% of business trips involve a personal vehicle.
- However, a trip over 500 miles away does have most travelers (approximately 64% – 90%) looking at flight schedules.
- Overall, only 33% of domestic business travelers are catching planes to get where they need to go.
Can You Lower Travel Costs?
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs and small business owners feel the cost of business travel outweighs the benefits. Of course, most of them successfully conduct business virtually on a daily business.
However, many still find it necessary and ultimately rewarding to travel for their business. From the occasional business conference or tradeshow to in-person client meetings to networking – there is nothing quite like face-to-face meetings.
With a little research and a good dose of patience, though, it is definitely possible to make business travel affordable. A recent post titled “The Last Travel List You’ll Ever Need: 150 Frugal Tips You Can Use Today” which appears on a blog hosted by car insurance quote site TheZebra.com shares incredibly helpful advice for traveling on a budget. These “frugal” tips can come in especially handy for bootstrapped entrepreneurs or small business owners.
Here are tips for the savvy entrepreneur who wishes to save money and still enjoy a pleasant business travel experience.
Business Travel Tips for Flying
- Did you know that airlines use browser cookies and may adjust ticket prices based on how often you search for specific flights? A smart way to prevent inflated flight costs is to browse the web in “incognito” or “private” mode and use a new incognito session for each search. (Here’s how to do that in Firefox, Chrome, and Safari). When you find the best price, you can return to “normal” browsing mode to book your flight.
- Local and smaller airlines may not be included in global search results, so don’t forget to check their websites directly. Sometimes they have offers or competitive rates, plus you might end up closer to your desired destination without having to rent a car.
- Compare the potentially lower costs of one-way flights or booking separate, individual legs of a long-distance flight versus round-trip fares.
- Consider mixing and matching airlines for better ticket prices. There’s no law stating you have to stick to one airline for an entire trip – even when following tip #3 above.
- According to travel and fare advice website FareCompare, the cheapest day and time to book domestic flights is Tuesday at 3PM Eastern time, and the cheapest time to fly is on Wednesdays. The least expensive times to fly overall are red-eye flights and the first flights of the morning since demand tends to be the lowest for those times.
- Avoid luggage and luggage weight fees by packing only what you absolutely need and, if at all possible, packing everything in a carry-on.
- Take advantage of all the discount, frequent flyer and reward programs you’re eligible for. For example, many credit cards let you earn points you can use towards free flights.
Accommodation Tips for Business Travel
- As mentioned earlier, hotel rates can add up in a hurry, especially for extended stays. Luckily, there are several ways to lower your hotel rates. One way is by taking advantage of last minute deals that you can find on sites such as Hotel Tonight and Last Minute.
- If you’re not opposed to driving or relying on public transportation, you will save a lot by staying in a hotel that’s further away from a city’s downtown area. You may find even bigger savings by staying in a smaller town outside of the city.
- When making plans for business travel, take the time to sign up for hotels’ email lists, as well as become their “fan” and “follower” on Facebook and Twitter. Some chains provide discounts to their audiences this way. As well, don’t completely rule out a stay in a budget hotel, especially if you’re only looking for a place to crash for a few hours. Just make sure to check the hotel’s ratings on sites such as TripAdvisor or Expedia to make sure it’s not a total dive.
- Don’t limit yourself to thinking that you must stay in a hotel when traveling for business. If you think you’ll need extended stay accommodations there are people are willing to rent out their private rooms, apartments, and even their homes for reasonable amounts. B&Bs (Bed and Breakfasts) are also good options. Depending on the city you are traveling to, you can check out online sites such as HomeSuite, Tripping.com, and TripAdvisor.
Food and Drink Tips
- You can save a lot of money on at least one meal each day of your business travel by choosing accommodations which include breakfast.
- If you’re taking the extended-stay option for your business trip and staying in a place with a refrigerator and kitchen, you’ll save a ton by doing your own shopping and cooking rather than going out to eat three times a day. Even if you’re staying for just a short while, you can still save money by buying your own snacks and beverages rather than hitting up the hotel vending machines.
Over To You!
These are only some of the hundreds of tips out there that will help you as you prepare for business travel. Do you have other suggestions for saving money for travel that worked for you in the past?
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Also published on Medium.
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