Booking more than two weeks ahead, asking for last room availability, and choosing fares that offer like-for-like credit options with cancellations. These are just some of the top hacks that helped the savviest businesses shave hundreds of thousands of dollars off their travel spend last year.
Simple but effective hacks such as booking airfares a month out from the travel date can alone save a company up to $200 on a single one-way domestic ticket. And given there was a 28.7% increase in ‘revenue passenger kilometres’ to 67.6 billion last year within Australia, we know Australians are spending more and more on travel.
Top cost-saving travel hacks
1. Ditch the myth of last-minute travel deals
Last-minute travel deals are a myth with the cheapest airfares now typically available at least two weeks out from the travel date, but booking as soon as six months in advance would see the largest savings. Organisation is key when it comes to nabbing the cheapest deals.
Last year one of our clients gave themselves the goal of improving their annual advance purchase by 20%, by simply shifting one-third (33%) of their bookings from within two weeks to at least four weeks in advance. By doing so, they reduced their average trip cost year on year by $137 per booking, for a total savings of $120,000 over 800 bookings.
Airlines offer their cheapest rates on any given flight more than 14 days out, as their algorithms work to seat availability, and as seats get snapped up, the price of the remaining spots tend to increase. Additionally, our savviest clients frequently book on the quarter or half hour to nab cheaper fares, with companies that opt for a flexible departure time able to secure the best deals.
Remember that many travel hacks that worked years ago have also changed. Travellers used to think travelling on a Tuesday, for example, would guarantee the best fare. But now, by tracking flight prices, booking in advance and being flexible with meeting times at the destination, you’re far more likely to reap savings.
But, as is the nature of business travel, advance organisation of meetings and events is not always as easy as it may sound. Travel Management Companies exist to help corporate travellers secure the best deal for those unavoidable last minute travel scenarios.
2. Maximise travel value adds by signing up for a travel programs
Alongside utilising a travel management partner to help secure the most competitive rates, many of our business customers also enjoy increased value in their travel through travel programs. Corporate Traveller’s SmartStay program, for instance, offers exclusive hotel deals, with add-ons including free breakfast, late checkout, and upgrades.
Travel management companies are typically able to secure better deals because of their buying power and strong relationships with suppliers. By signing up to hotel or airline newsletters, our clients have also nabbed special coupons and offers.
3. Book a flight that offers the best terms and conditions
Not all airline terms and conditions were created equal, and by purchasing a flight that lets you get a full credit that can be used on the same economy flight type has the potential to save you thousands in the long run when those corporate travel plans change.
Smart travellers and bookers should always check the terms and conditions of a fare, as some economy tickets may appear to allow flight credits in the case of cancellation, but it may come with restrictions.
Some flight credits only allow you to purchase a flex fare, which means in some cases you’ll end up paying hundreds of dollars more. Others hit you with hefty fees for changing flight dates. Our smartest customers opt for flights with good credit and refund policies.
4. Encourage a carry-on luggage culture
During domestic travel, encouraging staff to fly with just carry-on luggage for short trips can save a company significantly over the course of a year. Some of the more budget-conscious businesses are educating their travellers about what they can pack and how to do it efficiently, leading to savings of up to $90 per airfare.
By taking travel-sized toiletries, separating electronic devices and carrying your laptop separately, the carry-on luggage limits have proven to be ample on two-to-four-day trips.
5. Always ask for last room availability
Hotel rates vary wildly based on the time of year and city events, but by utilising ‘last room availability’, budget-conscious customers get a guaranteed set contracted rate at the hotel they partner with. Last room availability is a contract between a company and a hotel that ensures a hotel sells their rooms to the company at a contracted price, regardless of how many rooms are left or whether a rare event, such as a concert, has inflated prices.
6. Package your flight, hotel and airport pick-up and drop-off service
Some business travellers make the mistake of booking each component of their travel separately in the hopes of snagging a better deal, but by bundling the trip, customers usually pay the same. This means less time spent organising a car rental or a rideshare, less hassle, and less room for error – after all, for busy business travellers, time is money.
Our top customers know that time is also money and that with bundled deals that include airport transport, the booking and travel process is seamless.
7. Select hotels in close proximity to the CBD, transport and meetings
Businesses that booked hotels in walking distance to major amenities and meeting locations also clocked major savings last year by cutting down on rideshares and even restaurant expenses. By booking a hotel in the city centre, corporate travellers enjoyed more dining options and less need for a rental car or taxi.
With Australians projected to spend a record US$1.77 billion on ride-hailing apps this year, our savviest customers are realising a well-located hotel can reap major annual savings.
Tom Walley is global managing director for Corporate Traveller.