Travel Management

Maximize Your Travel Program: 4 Ways to Avoid Overspending

By examining hidden costs in your company’s travel program, you can uncover substantial savings and improve efficiency. Here are four key ways that Christopherson Business Travel consistently helps clients save money.
June 11, 2024
Maximize Your Travel Program: 4 Ways to Avoid Overspending

A little spend here, a little spend there.

If associates are stepping outside your organization’s managed travel program, it may seem like no big deal. But those costs add up quickly and can impact your bottom line.

"Looking across all of our accounts for the last year, we've been able to drive $72 million in savings, or 10 percent," says Matt Cameron, Chief Consulting Officer at Christopherson Business Travel.

Imagine what your company could do with that kind of travel savings.

By examining hidden costs in your company’s travel program, you can uncover substantial savings and improve efficiency. Here are four key ways that Christopherson Business Travel consistently helps clients save money.

1. Prevent Travel Leakage

When associates book travel outside your managed travel program, it results in what’s called “travel leakage.” Common sources of travel leakage include direct vendor bookings such as:

  • Airline websites
  • Hotel websites
  • Online travel sites like Orbitz or Expedia
  • Conference booking sites
  • Air-only bookings with overnight stays
  • Group meetings/events

To avoid extra costs, always ensure bookings are made directly through your managed travel program. Your company may have established relationships with vendors, and Christopherson can help you take advantage of those.

"If your company has preferred vendors and contracts in place, those leaks affect contract savings right off the bat," says Paul Foster, account manager at Christopherson Business Travel.

Another less obvious but potentially costly reason to always book using your managed travel program is risk management and traveler visibility. Christopherson can only locate travelers during a natural disaster or global issue if the booking is made through our program. For instance, if a traveler books a flight with us but not the hotel, we have no way of knowing their location, which compromises their safety.

Additionally, booking outside the program makes policy compliance difficult to enforce. At Christopherson, we’re not just gatekeepers—we act as your financial guardians, ensuring every dollar spent on business travel is accounted for.

Effective travel policy management is essential for companies aiming to reduce corporate travel costs without sacrificing quality or safety. We provide detailed reporting, offering transparency and accountability at every step, ensuring that every penny is strategically spent.

2. Manage Unused Airline Tickets

One common way companies lose money on travel budgets is through unused airline tickets, often from canceled trips. By managing unused airline tickets, Christopherson can help you squeeze every bit of value out of forgotten or changed flight plans, transforming potential financial drains into future travel assets.

"It's estimated that 11 percent of a company's travel spend is locked into unused tickets,” says Foster. “And in many cases, that money is often forfeited due to expired tickets that have not been repurposed.”

Using those tickets before they expire is key to not losing out on their value. Primarily, Christopherson prevents airline tickets from going to waste by sending notification reminders. We email reminders 120 days, 60 days, and 30 days prior to expiration so you can rebook those tickets and not lose out on their value.

We also provide travel managers and travel teams with a monthly unused ticket report and access to real-time unused ticket reports specific to departments, helping companies get an idea of what their unused ticket bank looks like at any point in time.

In some instances, and depending on airline guidelines, there might be a transferable option, which involves making a name change for a ticket. This takes some negotiation and utilizing our connections to persuade airlines to recycle or reimburse your travelers’ tickets.

At Christopherson, we use sophisticated technology to keep track of all your company's airline tickets, ensuring that none slip through the cracks. This way, companies not only cut costs but also streamline the reservation process for upcoming journeys, cleverly repurposing budget allocations to facilitate future travel plans.

3. Vendor Consolidation

Over the years, we have found that customers tend to choose extremes when it comes to vendors. Some have too many contracts, diluting their spending by giving travelers too many choices instead of concentrating volume to enhance future savings. Others do the complete opposite, having no contracts in place, thus missing out on savings opportunities.

“There are opportunities where we can streamline things for you,” explains Foster.

The most important thing to do when choosing preferred vendors is to find a happy medium. If you need assistance with optimizing your vendor list, here is our four-step approach:

  1. Consolidate: We review your program and consider a consolidation approach for your vendors based on travel patterns and best-suited vendors, considering any competition in the marketplace.
  2. Negotiate: We take that information to the specific vendors and negotiate with them by demonstrating we can provide a certain amount of volume.
  3. Facilitate: At this stage, we create a process. We capture all the information, update our systems with the most accurate information, and run tests to ensure the discounts are being applied.
  4. Evaluate: Finally, we evaluate the effectiveness of our consolidation process by measuring increased savings. We do this yearly, twice a year, or even quarterly.

By centralizing bookings, we can leverage higher volumes to secure better rates across all travel services—flights, hotels, car rentals—you name it.

4. Travel Policy Management

Developing customized travel guidelines involves more than just setting rules. With Christopherson's help, businesses can create corporate travel policies that ensure traveler safety and satisfaction while adhering to financial goals.

Corporate travel managers can rest easy knowing there’s a detailed audit trail for every transaction. This transparency is key to maintaining trust between company leadership and their staff regarding business trips. To craft a tailored travel policy for your business, we can help you do the following:

  • Align Policy with Company Culture: Some companies’ travelers have a lot of autonomy, while others have a well-defined policy. We want to ensure that we align with your company culture to give travelers the best experience.
  • Support Preferred Vendors: We focus on supporting your preferred vendors, helping you create an improved and consistent travel experience, and achieving your cost savings goals.
  • Foster Accountability: We ensure that our policies have mechanisms for accountability, such as tracking for reporting purposes or an approval process.
  • Be Adaptable: Travel needs change, so being adaptable is key. If we receive poor feedback, we should be able to make changes on the fly while maintaining the program’s core structure.
  • Make Plans Easy to Administer: Change and implementation should be as simple as possible. “The less cumbersome your travel program is, the easier it is to administer, and you'll have a much better experience whenever changes are needed,” says Foster.

When it comes to travel policies, consider that deals outside your managed travel program might be too good to be true.

“We want travelers to be aware of hidden costs,” Foster warns.

Many lower-cost options have zero perks, meaning no frills, no return options, no risk management, etc. While they may seem like a good way to save money, they often aren’t worthwhile for your company’s goals and budget in the long run.


At its core, savvy travel management not only streamlines and maximizes your travel budget—it also elevates team spirit and productivity. By implementing these strategies, you can ensure that your travel budget is spent wisely, providing both financial benefits and a better travel experience for your employees. Partnering with Christopherson Business Travel can help you achieve these goals, delivering the savings and efficiency your company needs to thrive.

 ► You’ll also like: 5 Sources of Corporate Travel Leakage (and How to Fix Them)

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