5 Clever Ways to Reduce Business Travel Costs

Why should business travel be exempt from cost-cutting measures? At a time when airlines are charging for checking baggage and the price of gas is high, it pays to stretch your travel dollars when you can. Here are six solid suggestions.

Drive Whenever Possible

Flying doesn't always save travel time. Consider that most airports recommend you arrive two hours before takeoff and that many flights are not non-stop. Add the early arrival time, actual flight time, and time spent between flights together and you'll find that, for many destinations, the time savings from air travel over driving are far less than you would imagine.

Driving has cost advantages as well. Mileage reimbursements typically amount to less than airfare. If you use your own car or a company car, you can eliminate car rental fees. In addition to cost, you'll end the hassle of airport security lines and worries over meeting baggage weight limits. 

Meet Without Leaving the Office

Virtual conferencing is a growing alternative to in-person conferences. It can take many forms, such as a person-to-person Internet call using Skype for audio and video or a webinar that combines a conference call with an online slide show. Such conferences support live interaction between presenter and attendees. While there is a loss of the personal touch, the savings in, if not elimination of, travel expenses make virtual conferencing worth a try.

Choose Mid-price Hotels, and Negotiate the Price

You don't need a five-star hotel to get services such as free wireless Internet, free breakfast, and conferencing facilities. They are now a staple of less expensive chains as well. Often, in fact, you can save in other ways by staying in an extended-stay unit. Using its kitchen to prepare meals reduces food costs too.

Travel agents don't always get the best hotel deals. If your agent doesn't get you a corporate rate when he or she books the room, ask for one when you arrive.

Alternatively, you can opt to stay with family or friends who live in the area you're heading to. The company of loved ones and the comforts of home cooked meals beat hotel beds and take-out any day. And it won't likely cost you a penny.

Use Reputable Rental Car Companies

A car is a car no matter who rents it. Look to reputable car companies for affordable daily rates. They may or may not offer a parking lot next to the airport or the baggage claim, depending on the company. However, if they offer a smartphone app, you can book your car before leaving the plane. Even if they aren't located immediately adjacent to the airport, rent a car with a company offering free pick-up service -- not only will it be convenient, but it will eliminate the need to hop in a cab or take a bus to the rental office.

Use Mass Transit

If there is a convenient mass transit route between your hotel and place of business, use it Mass transit is much less expensive than a taxi. Another alternative is to have your host office send an employee to get you back and forth from the airport and between the hotel and office. 

There you have it. Five clever ways to save on business travel costs. They are far from the only ways to save though. If you and your coworkers put your heads together, you'll be bound to think of more. What are some ways you've found to cut costs when you're traveling for business? Please share with us in the comments below.

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