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Business travel on a budget? Yes, travelling for work need not break the bank for entrepreneurs and small businesses with a tight budget.
No matter how much work can be accomplished virtually, face-to-face meetings, conferences, exhibitions and business conclaves sometimes become indispensable to secure business deals. Travel need not always be expensive and bank-breaking if you follow certain rules and tips.
For example, if you are researching flights to Dubai or other middle-eastern destinations, large airlines like Emirates sometimes have excellent deals that include accommodation and sight-seeing, that bring down the total cost of trip.
Smart travel on a budget can really help you especially when you are running your own business or work for a small business with tight budgets. Here are some pointers to keep in mind before charting your business travel.
Instead of sticking to an arbitrary figure, do the research and arrive at the number based on your destination. For e.g. If you are visiting expensive cities like New York or Paris, keep in mind that they have excellent public transport which will save big bucks on rental cars. Also, travel related tips are available in abundance for cities that are visited frequently which can become your biggest asset.
Even for a small company, having a one person travel bureau (from a reliable agency) can be extremely beneficial. This person or team should be an expert in securing deals, managing loyalty points, arranging transportation passes, foreign currency and acquiring last minute savings. For e.g. even big airlines like Emirates offers excellent discounts when you have accrued sufficient reward points with them. Maintaining a single base is both efficient and increases accountability.
While we might be hesitant to negotiate hotel rates, Consumer Reports states that 8 times out of 10, businesses will extend a discount when clients ask for lower prices on hotel rooms or car rentals. Remember, businesses lose money on empty rooms and cars sitting idly in the garage. Even while making dinner reservations for your clients, try to secure a deal for the entire party instead of a per plate pricing. This will ensure that freebies like appetizers and alcohol are thrown in. Not only will this make you look like a star player, it will build the outlook that your client will learn to appreciate and admire.
Imagine lugging around three pieces of heavy baggage on long distance flights. This will severely challenge your transportation agility. Your time to clear security will triple, airlines may be tempted to levy baggage fees and the time taken to board and travel will protract. While it might be tempting to carry extra when international airlines levy only a small fee, it is vital to remember that this is aimed at a family of four, not the single business traveler.
Domestic airlines in the US repeatedly upgrade their frequent fliers for no extra charge. Hotels are often willingly to extend their breakfast services free of cost to frequent guests. Make sure you are well informed about these deals and also don’t hesitate to enquire in person.
Even though you may be a small company running on a shoe string budget, ensure that you socialize certain travel specific rules – No ravaging the mini bar in hotels and filing false expenses. Keep updating these rules periodically to stay relevant and also exercise them without fear or favor. This will get all your ducks in a row.
Travel, often, leaves us weary and drained. Yet it is essential to run a successful business. So in these testing times when every penny counts, controlling your budget in a smart and successful way is the only route that will land you on top.
This article has been supported by Emirates.
Pic credit: tjook (Used under a Creative Commons license)
Meera R Corera (@meeraramanathan) is a SAP Consultant. She also pursues her passion for writing
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