As business travel costs are expected to rise, pre-planning your 2023 business travel budget has never been more critical to business travellers.
Business travellers will see airfares rise by 8.4%, hotel rates by 8.2%, and car rental charges by 6.8% in 2023. This is in addition to the predicted full-year 2022 increase in air fares of 48.5%, hotel rates of 18.5%, and car rental charges of 7.3%, according to the Global Business Travel Forecast.
According to a forward-looking 2022 Q2 Business Travel Index report, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics (an Oxford Economics company), business travel activity was expected to increase in the third quarter. However, some business travellers were expected to resume travelling at a slightly reduced rate as compared to pre-pandemic (2.1 trips per month compared to 2.3 pre-pandemic, a decrease of 7.2%).
Business executives also indicated that reducing business travel to save money may represent short-term savings but bring long-term reductions in sales (46%). And many business travellers and executives see reduced business travel as negatively impacting financial performance, at 32% and 36%, respectively.
In the same report, the majority of business travellers said that developing relationships through meetings with external customers and at trade shows is a critical aspect of business trips. So, when reducing business travel isn’t always the best answer for increasing sales, customer base or revenue, pre-planning becomes imperative. Here are a few tips to save on overall business travel costs and maximize the success and effectiveness of your business meetings:
Advance Planning: You can often save money if you book business flights and hotels months or weeks in advance. Also, consider using travel apps or agencies that you can save on bookings at a package rate.
Set a budget: Set a budget limit for business trips. Access how much the trip will cost with your long-term sales goals. If the trip exceeds the set limit, have an internal discussion on whether the event or meeting can’t be done virtually, as business travel requires some level of accountability. Set a per diem per day for meals and lodging and educate employees on the changes.
Leverage membership loyalty: Working exclusively with certain vendors to plan your business travel can save you money. Encouraging employees to sign up for their loyalty programs will also help. These strategic partnerships and using them exclusively can pay off with benefits like select discounts and preferred booking for trips.
Be flexible with dates and times: Leaving a day later or a day earlier could save money on flights as well as room rates. If you’re flexible with dates and can move things around, you can often get great deals you wouldn’t otherwise.
Consider Location: Compare locations when planning a company-wide outing, like a retreat or offsite teambuilding event. Some locales are less expensive when you factor in lodging, transportation and food. Also, when attending events booking a hotel outside a larger city and taking mass transit, in some cases, could reduce travel costs. For example, airport hotels or hotels in the city centre tend to be more costly. When attending events at high-end hotels, you may save money by booking at nearby hotels that may have more reasonable rates.
Pre-set appointments & follow-up: Before attending events, reach out to event attendees or presenters that you want to meet. Make a firm appointment to get together. Gather information about the client’s wants and needs to maximize your time together. Set goals for each client meeting, whether it be the initial meeting, presenting benefits or closing a deal. A week before the meeting, reach out again to confirm the appointment.
Selecting a hotel for a business meeting: If your company is hosting an event or meeting, researching hotels is important to find the perfect meeting space. There are a lot of differences among meeting rooms in hotels — each location will have different features, amenities and support. For example, audio-visual equipment may or may not be included. Make sure to research the surrounding area of the hotel. In addition to speaking directly to staff while researching, look at reviews to ensure service meets your standards. Visit the space if possible. And ask if the hotel offers any special packages or perks, as many are happy to throw in discounts for large groups.
Here are some business-friendly hotels that we recommend in the following cities: