Four Ways to Bootstrap Your Travel Budget

August 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Video conferencing, data sharing, cloud computing, and mobile connectivity have been touted as the way to do business in the 21st century. Turns out, it’s hard to beat being in the room to conduct business. Face-to-face meetings facilitate better, clearer, and faster exchange of ideas. And don’t forget all the conferences and trade shows you have to attend.

According to Entrepreneur magazine, business travel is expected to grow by almost 6% each year over the next five years. How can startups and small businesses, which often operate on shoestring budgets, bootstrap their travel costs so their salespeople can close crucial deals?

Business travel is costly, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Entrepreneur magazine’s article had some helpful ideas for bootstrapping your travel budget, and we came up with a couple of our own.

Get organized. Concur Technologies found that disorganization — failing to fully understand the true cost of travel — caused companies to waste nearly 20 percent more than large businesses in this category. Bottom line? Do a cost analysis of your frequent travel options in order to create a detailed, thorough, comprehensive travel policy that everyone must adhere to.

Business traveler walking through an airport. You can still fly even if you're trimming your travel budget.Spell out the details. The more your employees know about what will and won’t be covered when expenses are reported, the more informed decisions they’ll make when booking their trips. Create a list of preferred airlines, hotels, and rental car companies, and be explicit about how these costs are to be paid. Specify how expenses will be itemized and what receipts will be needed. Defining what will and won’t be covered stops the post-trip argument before it happens. Post your policy online so employees can look it up when they’re out of the office.

Don’t be stingy. While you’re bootstrapping, that doesn’t mean your staff needs to fly on cargo planes and eat beans from a can. Make travel enjoyable for the people who are spending days and weeks away from home. They don’t have to fly first class, but let them fly in Economy Plus, and let them keep their frequent flyer miles and hotel points. If they don’t like traveling, or they feel taken advantage of, you run the risk of them leaving, which means hiring and training new salespeople, which could eat up any savings you might have gotten otherwise.

Revise, revise, revise. Travel regulations change, prices change, and even the benefits from hotels and airlines change, not to mention your company’s own financial health. So update and amend your travel policies at least once a year. Make sure the airlines you choose still have a decent loyalty program. Double-check that your company credit card is still the best option for paying for travel. Ask for major input from the people who actually travel frequently for your company, rather than leaving it in the hands of people who rarely leave the office.

A startup or small business’s success may hinge on the ability to go to its customers, but neglecting to create and commit to a travel budget is planning to fail.

What kind of travel policies do you have at your company? How do you extend your travel budget? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: MauriceBMueller (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

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Matt Sill

Matt Sill is the Marketing Product Manager for Travelpro Products, creators of the original Rollaboard luggage, carry-on luggage, and suitcases.

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