Business travel is expensive and frustrating, but it’s a necessary evil. No matter how much closer the internet brings us, you can’t replace a person-to-person conversation and a handshake. Businesses trying to develop long-lasting partnerships and relationships has created a $251 billion dollar business travel industry. We know that business travel is necessary, but how do we lessen the burden?
First, we need to understand where our money is going. The six major expenses that businesses track are (1) airfare, (2) lodging, (3) dining, (4) entertainment, (5) transportation and (6) car rentals. Concur, a travel expense management company owned by SAP, released a report explaining that small businesses spend 19.17% more than larger companies.
Small business spend 19.17% more than larger companies.
Saving On Airfare
“Hidden city airfares” can offer cheaper flights to everyone by booking flights past your original destination. For example, Bob wants to fly to New York City (“NYC”), but it’s expensive. Bob books cheaper a flight to Portland, ME with a stop or connection at NYC. We depart at NYC and never bother to continue onwards to Portland, ME. This works because airlines use a complicated formula that takes into consideration the popularity of a destination and the time of the year. Flying to a less popular destination or city means that we’d pay less for the overall flight, even though we’re stopping at NYC.
Skiplagged is a website that is dedicated to helping would-be bargain hunters find the best airfares with “hidden city fares.” Obviously, this doesn’t always work, but there are opportunities where it can save everyone a lot of money.
The negatives associated with using the service is that we’re saving money by sacrificing convenience and time. Generally in life, we sacrifice our time to save more money, so each individual person will need to balance whether the money saved is worth the inconvenience.
Airfares purchased under “hidden city fares” must be one-way. Airlines are not happy that we’re taking advantage of their pricing models. But, Airlines are “prohibited from increasing the price of passenger’s tickets” after it is bought by the Department of Transportation. Instead, Airlines may cancel your return flight in retaliation. Thus, it’s best to purchase one-way flights each way to avoid this issue.
Another issue that may cause concern is the United Airlines and Orbitz lawsuit against Skiplagged. Could the airlines sue its passengers? In the United States, we can sue anyone for anything hypothetically. Realistically, the airlines can’t sue us for much because of the litigation costs and the public backlash. Lastly, it is not a crime to use this tactic to save money regardless of what the airlines may try to make you believe.
Other standard airfare saving strategies are to purchase your tickets between 6 to 12 weeks before your departure. Buying 12 weeks before your departure will not be cheaper. The price will generally move up-and-down during this period, so you may be able to snag a great bargain.
ITA is the company owned by Google that powers Orbitz, Kayak and other airfare search sites. Matrix is demo site that ITA provides to search engines to test their offerings. Matrix may provide better deals because it provides all of the options available. Other sites may limit your options to provide a better user experience, but that may result in missed opportunities.
Everyone knows that using online travel search engines is a great way to save money on hotels. But, you’ll often save more by taking a further step to actually call the local hotel. In a past life, I worked in the hotel industry at the front-desk and taking reservations. Hotels often do not list all of their available rooms online because they have larger profit margins by selling directly to patrons. Also, hotels will often provide cheaper prices directly to patrons because they would save on commission fees, while still earning a larger profit. This is especially true, when traveling abroad.
Booking early is the surest way to save money on car rentals. Car rentals are most expensive within a week of booking. An alternative method to save on car rentals is to expand your search radius. For example, renting a car from the airport is usually more expensive than renting from a site further away. Susan Stellin was quoted a $471 dollars for a three-day rental at an Avis location closest to her in Brooklyn. She was quoted $111 dollars at a Budget rental location in Jersey City. Thus, a she traveled a bit further and was able to save $360 dollars or 76% off the original cost.
Luggage is incredibly frustrating, while traveling. Checking-in luggage means that you’ll wait an extra hour trying to find your luggage. But, carrying it on and keeping your suits wrinkle-free means a trip to the chiropractor and an expensive hotel dry-cleaning bill. Finding a garment bag that is efficient and light is vital.
I was skeptical of the Skyroll Garment Bag because I had tested garment bags from Tumi, Samsonite and Vitorinox. I had assumed that these time tested brands would be able to create a product that would save us from herniated disks and acute lower back pain. The Skyoll is a simple, light and no-frills solution to an efficient garment bag that will allow you to travel for 2 to 3 days with a wrinkle-free suit. Most importantly, it saves you from having to increase your business travel costs with hotel laundry and dry-cleaning. Certify, a travel expense management company, estimates that 17% of business travel is dedicated to these miscellaneous expenses. Having the right tools helps prevent you from spending needlessly.
Two Travel Tips
Airport alcohol is overpriced. You should consider this tip the next time you’d like to have a drink to calm the nerves before take-off. Single serving liquor bottles between 24% and 70% alcohol content that is under three ounces are permitted through TSA security. This is well documented by the FAA and TSA.
We’re saving quite a bit of money, when considering the average drink at the bar is $15 dollars and a single-serving bottle purchased at any liquor store is around $2.50. While this is not a strict travel tip, it would definitely ease the frustration that comes from flying.
Finally, I have a strong tendency to lose everything. I’ve been testing Tile, a tracking tool that syncs with your phone, to help avoid losing vital documents that I need while traveling such as my passport. I’ve lost my passport and driver licenses more times than I care to admit. It takes an inordinate amount of time and frustration to replace these documents.
Tile and its related competitors have the same problem. They rely on cellphone Bluetooth technology which has a maximum range of 32 feet. Thus, Tile is great when you’re looking for something in your bag or a remote at home. It’s not effective for a person that is hoping to be able to find their lost item after leaving a bar or airport. I’ve tested the Tile and the moment you leave the 32 feet radius, the product will fall out of range.
The Tile delivers on their promise with a great app and the ability to activate a ringer on the Tile to help find your lost item. But, it’s limited range is definitely something that would make many reconsider. Another option is Trax, a GPS tracker that was recently funded. GPS is able be tracked anywhere the satellite service is available.
Business travel is a necessary evil and there are steps we can take to make it less painful. But, saving money usually means spending more time and effort. We all need to balance the right amount of efficiency and cost savings to make sure that we achieve our business goals. Happy holidays and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas!
Thanks to Rosaria Velardo for her assistance with the research and review of the article.
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