What are some aspects of business travel that startup leaders absolutely must invest in to help their companies in the long run?
Almost every what’s worth the splurge, from programs like Global Entry to more indulgent items like upgrades and private guides. But unlike individual travelers, a company can’t use a single nice suitcase or pair of comfortable shoes for all its employees’ subsequent trips, so what should a business spend money on to make travel as productive, painless, and cost-effective as possible?about
Here are my top five ideas:
The old adage is true — saving time means money in business travel. An extra hour spent working is more useful than spending that hour in the back of a taxi or at an airport on a layover, and your employee will also be less stressed. While nonstop flights or hotels closer to the venue often cost a little more, your employee’s productivity is worth more than the amount you’re saving. Splurge on her sanity, and give her that time back.
If there’s a lot of travel required for your business, that means your employees are spending a lot of time filling out expense reports, and they may be spending more than you’d like. A well-integrated expense management tool can save traveling employees and the accounting department time while helping to identify areas where the company can reduce costs. A good expense tool won’t be free, but when it’s used alongside a smart travel policy, it can pay for itself.
You don’t know when a client engagement might run long or a sales pitch will be postponed, but it will happen eventually. If there’s a chance you may change or cancel a trip, paying a little more upfront to have that option can end up saving your company money in the long run. Most large airlines offer some fares (branded or otherwise) that include benefits like no change fees, same-day flight changes, a free checked bag, drink tickets, and so forth. A more flexible fare like this will be more expensive upfront, but it will be worth the splurge if plans change.
The price of admission (usually around $500 annually for an airline) might seem difficult to recoup in food and drinks, but each bagel or beer you don’t have to buy adds up. Couple that with the fact that airport Wi-Fi isn’t always free, and you can easily start to save money each trip — and that’s before the member brings any additional travelers in with her, which is something most clubs allow.
Beyond the directly quantifiable benefits, clubs offer more seats, space, and power outlets than gate areas do, which means more productivity during your employees’ downtime. Giving employees a membership can make them look forward to business travel, but make sure to weigh the cost of the membership against the frequency of travel in order to measure the ROI.
While a single airline, hotel, or car rental agency isn’t always going to be the cheapest option, focusing travel spend on one or two options can be worth it if the brand has an SMB loyalty program that can be used to offset travel costs. Companies should look at where they’re located and where they travel to pinpoint the programs that will offer them the most benefits.
One additional perk is that your employees can earn status and points with a loyalty program, something Millennials really value. They’ll also stop expensing some of the costs that are covered with their status, such as hotel breakfasts or checked bags. Purchased with the brand’s credit card, a business and its travelers could triple dip on travel spending.
You can’t really put a price on peace of mind, so investing in efficiently using your employees’ time and your company’s budget is something that’s practically nonnegotiable as your company grows. What travel item will you splurge on?