Curbing Business Travel Costs Without Compromising Quality

Without adequate controls, business travel can grow into an expensive and bloated overhead, while putting pressure on the environment. With most businesses now operating sustainability functions or environmental policies, streamlining business travel is now a top priority. This guide will give you some ideas on how you can curb travel costs without sacrificing quality:

Reduce trip frequency and duration

Re-evaluate the requirement of business travel by forging closer relationships with clients: can you utilise technology to eradicate the requirement of frequent face-to-face meetings? Utilise video-conferencing facilities and communicate with suppliers, clients and customers electronically, rather than personally.

Limit the number of staff members travelling at any one time and use teleconferencing to fill in knowledge gaps or aid discussion.

To save costs, complete overseas trips in the shortest time period possible; an early flight, followed by two days of meetings and an evening return flight, rather than a two-night stop-over, will save you money, while maximising time spent working.

Book early

Remember that business travel cost savings can be reinvested into your environmental policy; while some staff may initially complain about losing travel privileges, you are more likely to achieve buy-in if it’s for a genuine cause, rather than to improve the bottom line.

To achieve the largest savings, encourage employees to book their travel as far in advance as possible. Although this will reduce flexibility, it will provide the greatest savings. Research shows that the average airline ticket rises by 2% each day in the period two weeks prior to travel.

You should also buy restricted air and rail tickets which limit the time of your departure and allow less opportunity to alter your itinerary; these tickets offer the greatest savings. Also make sure that your staff sticks to preferred airlines and accommodation providers, as this can help to create loyalty discounts.

Decide if you are going to use a travel management company (TMC), an online booking tool or an internal resource. A TMC will often give improved rates because they are able to make bulk bookings.

Book with airlines who advertise the newest fleets; these are more likely to be the most fuel efficient planes with the lowest carbon emissions.

Downgrade your class of travel

Flying business or first class may be preferred amongst staff but is environmentally unsustainable and has much larger cost implications. There is also a 95% price difference between a Virgin Atlantic economy and premium-economy flight from London to New York; a significant saving over time.

Economy, business and first class require around 0.66 sq. metres per seat, 2.3 sq. metres and 3.6 sq. metres of cabin space respectively, with the former maximising the number of passengers that each flight, and fuel load, can carry.

The majority of your staff will travel economy away from work and find this to be more than adequate. You can make up for the inevitable reduction in service and comfort in other areas. For better leg room on flights, check in as early as possible and ask for a seat close to the emergency exit. For short trips you can also avoid high baggage fees by taking hand luggage only. This will also cut down on your staff’s overall flight weight, reducing carbon emissions further.

Overland travel

For overland or domestic travel, use public transport – this is cheaper than driving and will share the trip’s carbon emissions between a greater number of passengers; it is also more productive, allowing staff to work while they travel.

On train journeys, rather than travelling first-class, find a quieter carriage or a vacant double seat to yourself; use group bookings for additional discounts. Avoid taxis – they are expensive and particularly poor for the environment.

For companies with fleet cars, upgrade them to ultra-low carbon vehicles like electric or hybrid models; this will save fuel costs and offer tax advantages too. For employees that drive to meetings frequently, like sales staff, train them in fuel-efficient driving techniques and encourage driving at non-peak times.

Encourage staff to cycle to work by providing appropriate incentives; also promote car-sharing to and from work – with fewer cars you will need less parking facilities, saving you money.


Seek out hotel accommodation which has a good environmental policy, particularly in regard to energy efficiency and water management. Many new buildings will now have accreditation for sustainable design.

To save additional costs, ensure that your preferred hotels are favourable amongst staff so that they comply with your travel policy. Downgrade room quality where possible; employees do not need large, luxurious rooms.

Try to use your buying power to negotiate better rates; though it is important that you do not over-promise on your yearly booking capability as it may reduce your bargaining power the following year.

Serviced accommodation

Serviced accommodation is around 30 per cent cheaper than hotels on average and allows several members of staff to live in the same apartment, providing better energy efficiency. Corporate accommodation in London can cost as little as £60 per night for a single room or £110 for a triple; a similar standard double hotel room can cost up to £200.

Fully equipped kitchens allow business travellers to live independently, without having to dine at an expensive hotel restaurant. Hotels typically charge customers for internet access, occasionally up to £20 per day, and often charge for parking; these are both complimentary in many serviced accommodation providers.

Many serviced apartments, including London’s Citadines Holborn, also have meeting rooms on site, saving costs of hiring a room elsewhere and reducing associated travel emissions.

Offset your emissions

Use the money you have saved from cutting costs to offset the carbon emissions created from your streamlined business travel. Calculate your business travel carbon footprint, then offset these emissions by investing in environment projects.

Overall, streamlining your business travel policy can have a positive impact on the environment while saving you money in the long run; act now and start reaping the rewards.

This business advice article was written by Refresh Accommodation, providers of high-quality serviced accommodation in London.

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