Earlier this year, Small Business Trends published a report on the 25 best ways for small business travelers to save money on the road.
Then recently, SurePayroll offered an invitation to provide a few questions to the company’s monthly SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard. The questions were posed to small business owners and managers about their practices and policies for business travel.
One of those asked was:
“Do you have tips for saving money while traveling for business?”
Based on the responses Small Business Trends and SurePayroll received, planning ahead before the trip seems to be a surefire way of saving money and being prepared for the unexpected.
Of course, there will always be business travel horror stories that make a disaster out of even the best laid plans.
Still, here are some money-saving tips for the small business traveler:
Before You Go
Obviously, planning ahead is the best way to save money on your small business trip. This can prevent a lot of headaches and expense if something unforeseen should occur.
As SurePayroll General Manager Andy Roe told Small Business Trends:
“The small business owner may only travel a couple times a year, so they may not have all the tricks of the seasoned corporate flyer – Wifi hotspots, battery backups, noise cancelling headphones, better access to get off of standby and onto a flight. You can be penalized for not being a frequent flyer.”
Before you pack those bags, peruse the Web to look for better deals on everything vital to the trip.
Here are some tips that SurePayroll survey respondents shared:
1. “Planning and use of an itinerary.”
2. “Check the best rates for flights and hotels and make the necessary changes, if possible.”
3. “By packing snacks, planning ahead, investigating lower prices for hotels, airfare, rental cars.”
4. “We use Priceline for hotel reservations to get the best price for the location.”
6. “Be married to rewards programs for air, car, hotel BUT still shop each, before every trip!”
7. “Book airline tickets as early as possible, the closer to travel dates the more expensive the tickets. I always try to stay as close to the client as possible so I don’t have to worry about as much traffic.”
In today’s business world, sharing is caring. And there are plenty of services to share, especially for travelers. Rides and rooms are two major expenses that can be offset by the use of apps and services like AirBnB and the ride share companies like Uber or Lyft (if they operate where you’re going).
Some responding to SurePayroll said:
8. “Ride share and weekly rental of hotels.”
9. “Usually will stay at friends or family to save on hotel.”
Of course, sometimes all the Web surfing in the world will only get you so far. It may be prudent to do the old-fashioned thing and ask for possible discounts. That’s what one respondent suggests:
10. “Always ask for an extra discount. Ask three times. It works. People don’t want to say no. They will only do it (say No) if they have no control to offer.”
On the Go
You may feel panicked or rushed while you’re in a new place with unfamiliar surroundings. The best practice is to not get stressed. Losing your cool could result in losing your shirt (hopefully not literally).
Here’s what SurePayroll found, and one traveler made it simple on how to save money while on the move:
11. “Be conservative.”
Or as one person answering simply puts it:
12. “Spend less.”
It seems the best money-saving practices are those that you’d follow with your own household budget. Some travelers said:
13. “Give employees a daily budget to buy snacks at the grocery store in larger sizes.”
14. “Spend as if it’s your personal money.”
That’s probably a lot easier said than done. So, here’s what to consider when you’re out and about away from the home office:
15. “Put everything on a 0% frequent flyer miles credit card.”
16. “Travel during Monday-Thursday. Air fare and hotels are less expensive.”
17. “Use AirMiles.”
18. “Use American Express for everything and build up Frequent Flyer miles.”
Despite the possibility of Frequent Flyer miles accruing and the like, it may not always be best to just throw all expenses onto a single card or to limit yourself to a single airline. At least two small businesses said they look around – in the face of Frequent Flyer miles – for the absolute best deal.
19. “We have our employees use two separate airline carriers and always take the cheaper of the two.”
20. “Don’t go with one airline all the time just because you get miles from them! Always go for the lower cost options. Just because you’re getting reimbursed doesn’t mean it’s a vacation.”
Of course, not all savings can be had in the air. There are some on the ground, too. Small Business Trends reached out to one of the respondents to SurePayroll and found some other ways to save on the ground, namely with parking.
21. “Use ParkWhiz for booking parking. Also consider “sharing” services for lodging and car rental”
ParkWhiz is a mobile (and desktop) app that allows travelers to scope out different parking lots and garages at a particular location. Travelers can even pay for their parking before the trip. That way they’re guaranteed a space.
Rob McLennan, the company’s VP of Finance, told Small Business Trends in an interview, “Often we have special rates that are lower than posted ‘drive-up’ pricing; and when we don’t, you can often save money by choosing a different location. No matter what, drivers get the peace of mind of knowing exactly where they are going — with detailed directions on finding the garage entrance — and business travelers benefit from email receipts to streamline expense reporting.”
Before You Go Again
Saving money on your next business trip can actually start while you’re on the previous trip. A lot of the spending you do now can lead to savings later. That was the advice given by a lot of small business travelers who responded to SurePayroll.
Here are some of those tips:
22. “Keep all receipts of transactions to allow for consistency and budgeting on future travels.”
23. “Having a good expense tracking program allows you to see trends in spending as well and figure out where you can save some money.”
24. “Hotel Rewards points equal free rooms.”
There’s one tip that was shared by a lot of the people responding to the SurePayroll and Small Business Trends query. And guaranteed, it will save you money from your business travel budget.
25. Just don’t travel on business.
(Of course, that’s not always an option for your business.)
So if you have to leave the comforts of your home office, remember what these travelers have shared and don’t forget to look at the previous tips shared on small business travel.