No matter how careful you were, you could probably stand to cut your company’s travel budget. With foresight and discipline, these six strategies are all relatively easy to accomplish.
- Stay Away from Pricey Destinations
To the extent possible, avoid traveling to — or spending great lengths of time — in pricey destinations. The good news is that the world’s most expensive business travel destinations aren’t always places you’d want to spend a lot of time: in 2015, Caracas, Venezuela topped one list. But plenty of spendy cities — New York, London, Sydney, San Francisco — are likely to make your shortlist. Plan accordingly.
- Get an Airline Credit Card
When you can’t avoid business travel, at least use a credit card that pays you back for every dollar you spend on airfare. Review up-to-date lists of the best airline credit cards for products that fit your needs and travel preferences.
- Downgrade Your Hotel
You don’t need to stay in a four- or five-star hotel everywhere you go. In fact, if you care about your business travel budget, you shouldn’t. Opt for more down-to-earth accommodations and save the self-pampering for personal travel.
- Keep Discretionary Expenses to a Minimum
Many expenses related to business travel are tax-deductible. You’ll of course want to speak with your accountant to determine the best course of action for your specific situation, but you don’t need professional advice to increase your travel-related tax deductions’ potency the next time you travel.
One easy tactic: spend less at mealtimes. The IRS allows you to deduct a flat per-diem rate for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE). The exact rate varies by locale, and you can only deduct half your M&IE. It still beats nothing, though. And the less you actually spend on food, the more of that M&IE pot you’ll be able to pocket.
- Combine Multiple Trips Into One
If your standing itinerary takes you to multiple cities in the same geographic region or flight direction, consider reworking it to accommodate fewer, longer trips with greater numbers of proximate stops. If you have to hit the four largest cities in Texas every quarter anyway, why not hit them in one fell swoop?
- Don’t Go At All
Think you absolutely have to take all those planned business trips? Think again. Videoconferencing technology has improved to the point that many pro forma trips simply aren’t necessary any longer. This is especially true for trips not likely to result in new business or additions to your team. Why spend four hours on a plane each month just to touch base with your subordinates for an afternoon when a two-hour video chat will suffice?
Keep That Trimmer Handy
Travel isn’t the only business expense on which you’ll need to keep a watchful eye. You — or your designated cost-cutting lieutenant — need to be on constant guard for opportunities to reduce the cost of business software, professional services, equipment, office space, local transportation, employee benefits, and even smaller outlays like office supplies and overhead. No expenditure is too unimportant to cut.