How to Reduce Corporate Travel Spend
Last-minute bookings, flight changes, additional amenities, hotel and airfare market rate fluctuations, and passenger changes can bloat your travel spend allowance, leaving you with expenses upper management may find hard to digest.
While business travel is notoriously hard to budget, travel management companies (TMCs) combine expert personnel with software and reporting tools to keep costs in check and align your travel program with your travel budget, no Alka-Seltzer® required.
In fact, the Global Business Travel Association estimates that TMCs save companies who spend at least $250,000 in annual travel from 5% to 50% of their travel spend, which is a significant savings.
Christopherson Business Travel can help you realize savings and reduce corporate travel spend using these seven methods.
1. Manage Unused Tickets
Before 2020, it was commonly estimated that 10% of business travel airline tickets went unused. However, the pandemic’s travel restrictions flooded many businesses with unused tickets, some with a total value of more than $1 million. That’s definitely an expense worth tracking and managing.
According to Christopherson Account Manager Patti Bragg, “The number one travel issue right now is unused tickets, especially when a company has guest travelers or non-profiled travelers. You need an unused ticket tracking and reporting system to see those tickets, be able to reuse them, and get those funds back. This one travel management feature really provides a lot of savings.”
To recoup unused ticket expenses, Christopherson provides a tool that tracks the entire life cycle of a ticket—from purchase to use—and automates unused ticket management, whether your travelers book online or through an advisor.
2. Capitalize on TMC Rates
You can reduce the rates you’re paying for airfare, lodging, and transportation by taking advantage of a TMC’s affiliate memberships and corporate buying power.
Our memberships in the BCD Travel Global Hotel Program, Virtuoso, and the THOR Hotel Program provide clients with discounts, enhanced amenities, and benefits at more than 86,100 properties spanning 189 countries and 6 continents.
Depending on the property, our memberships can provide benefits such as free upgrades, breakfast, and Wi-Fi, as well as reductions on best rate pricing. So while you’re saving money, your travelers will enjoy additional perks.
“Our hotel programs really benefit clients who do lots of conference travel or group travel, clients for whom lodging is the major travel expense, and clients who don’t regularly log enough room nights to get company-specific rates. These clients can access our consortia rates. It’s a great value we bring to each account,” said Bragg.
As an industry leader, Christopherson receives priority privileges and benefits from major carriers, which we pass on to you to improve your service and save you money.
You’ll also get preferred seating on multiple fare classes and exclusive access to international airfare, and your travelers will access Southwest Airlines’ full content, including Wanna Get Away fares, as well as TMC-only change and cancellation perks on major airlines, such as Delta, United, and American, that result in cost savings.
If you don’t have company-specific negotiated rates, you can capitalize on Christopherson’s corporate buying power and standing negotiated rates with all major rental car companies, including National, Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, Budget, and others.
Your account managers may also help you obtain better rates by introducing you to additional vendors who can give you deeper discounts.
For example, a client who preferred renting cars from a particular company asked Christopherson Account Manager Susan Moon how they could reduce their rental car costs. Moon was able to look at the client’s travel spend and identify savings opportunities. By engaging two other vendors in the discussion, she introduced the client to other companies that could provide lower rates.
3. Obtain Automated Savings
Rate Monitoring Tools and Services
Finding a lower price after you’ve made a purchase is one of the most frustrating scenarios for consumers. That’s why we provide expert travel advisors and automated tools to ensure you receive lower rates when they are available for the trip options you’ve selected.
We use a quality control fare-checking module to automatically search every itinerary for lower fares until the time of departure. When lower rates are found for an identical itinerary, that booking is returned to your travel advisor or our online team for review and response, ensuring that you receive the lower fare.
Like the airline industry, hotels raise and lower their prices based on market conditions and inventory. Our hotel rate monitoring tool screens travel advisor-booked reservations for lower rates. Rates are checked 72 hours prior to travel and, if a lower rate is found for an “apples to apples” comparable room, your reservation will be changed and the savings tracked and reported.
To increase your savings through use of preferred vendors and negotiated rates, Christopherson also offers a tool that automates hotel program compliance and simplifies duty-of-care requirements.
After identifying itineraries without hotel bookings, the tool sends automated reminders to travelers requesting that they fill in this gap in their travel plans, which ultimately helps you get more bookings with your preferred hotels and increases your negotiating power.
4. Negotiate Lower Rates
Based on your travel spend and volume, Christopherson’s account managers can assist with hotel rate negotiations or provide you with automated tools to obtain the lowest possible rates within your travel policy parameters.
For example, one of our account managers used a tool to help a large account consolidate a 100-property hotel program that resulted in a 38.9% cost savings in hotel spend.
Moon reported a similar rate-reduction experience: “Earlier this year we negotiated with United Airlines on behalf of a client. Because of the client’s travel volume, we were able to save them $100,000 on airfare alone,” she said.
5. Receive Consultative Services
Providing consultative services—such as getting to know the client’s culture, discussing their travel policy and budgetary goals, and conducting account reviews—is a vital component of reducing corporate travel spend.
“Every account needs consultative services. Having a ton of preferred hotels isn’t necessarily best, because booking more nights at the same hotel chain increases the client’s buying power. We look at these kinds of travel patterns during the client’s travel program review to help them reduce corporate travel spend,” said Christopherson Account Manager Paul Foster.
6. Book Online
For many businesses, reducing corporate travel spend includes getting travelers to use an online booking tool. When travelers use an online booking tool, rogue travel spend—travel booked outside of your TMC—is brought back under the TMC “umbrella.”
The benefits of reigning in rogue travelers include booking more nights with your preferred hotels, which in turn leads to better rate negotiations, and accruing fewer booking fees, as all travel segments are booked at the same time, during a single transaction.
“If a client has a high number of bookings with travel advisors, we discuss the nature of their business and whether they can save fees by using the online booking tool more. We provide training as needed to make sure their travelers and travel managers have the necessary expertise to book online,” said Christopherson Account Manager M’Liss Hunter.
7. Act on Your Data
New clients and those with previously unmanaged programs are always surprised at how much information we can give them. We provide a platform that collects and consolidates your real-time travel data in one accessible place, offers powerful reporting tools, and can even alert you if your monthly travel expenditures exceed your year-to-date budget.
If your data reveal that “Matt” in “Department XYZ” is booking business class, you can act on those data to reduce your corporate travel spend by (1) revising your travel policy so business class isn’t an available option, or (2) you can discuss booking comfort class only with Matt and back up that conversation with visible, data-at-a-glance dashboard cards.
“If companies aren’t aware of their data, they can’t use it to reduce corporate travel spend,” said Hunter. “If they know about it, they can track it and analyze it.”
Data analysis is the confluence of consultative account management and data reporting tools: this combination of service and technology allows you to capitalize on your travel program and reduce your corporate travel spend. And that’s nothing to bellyache about.
After a year and a half I can clearly see the value based on the level of customer service and the transparency into our company’s travel spend.”
Jared Hughes, CFO, Forefront Healthcare
Want to reduce your corporate travel spend even more? Mandate your travel program, as explained here.
You can also contact our Business Development Team for more information on Christopherson’s money-saving tools and services.