How to make sure your team’s plans stay on budget during your next event
Who wouldn’t love a first-class flight ticket, a week-long stay in a luxury business hotel, or a team-building extravaganza in an exotic destination? Unfortunately, there’s often only one thing standing in the way of these dream business trips: The company budget.
As a travel manager, admin, or corporate event planner, you’ll need to make sure your travelers are kept comfortable and happy, while still sticking to your spending limits. But the planning process can get pretty tricky, especially if you’re budgeting for a company event—while splashing out might be feasible for just one person, it doesn’t quite make sense for 50.
Luckily, there are tools out there that can help you save money on business travel to your next event, without skimping on essentials. Read on for a step-by-step guide to staying within your budget when booking business travel, while still meeting your event goals.
Why is budgeting for group business travel so challenging?
When planning travel for a group, costs can start to rack up pretty quickly. You’ll have to consider the price of accommodation and transport for everyone, on top of all the other expenditures and line items associated with an in-person event (food, venue bookings, etc.)
Transportation and accommodation for company events can get very expensive, regardless of the type of event—especially if you work for a distributed/remote company, or a company with multiple offices. If that’s the case, to pull off a successful event, you may have to fly people in from across the country or around the world. You’ll have to pay for their flight tickets or train tickets, rental cars or taxis, hotel bookings, and associated costs. And if people need to change plans or cancel at the last minute (a common occurrence in any large group), you’ll incur even more fees.
In this situation, it might be tempting to cut corners to save money, such as having event attendees share hotel rooms. However, this type of solution can make employees uncomfortable. It also presents a risk, due to discrimination and privacy implications. Fortunately, there are many other ways to save money on business travel bookings during the event planning process, while still ensuring everyone’s needs are taken care of.
What kind of solutions exist for booking business travel?
When it comes to business travel, the booking tools and services you use can make or break your overall budget. Some solutions can actually save you money in the long run, leading to event success, while others will raise your event costs substantially. Here’s a rundown of some common booking solutions and event technologies, and how they’ll affect your budgeting process:
Recommended solution: Travel management software platforms
Travel management software gives you an easy way to gain full control over your business travel booking process, while also making it more streamlined and efficient. This type of software can be very cost-effective.
For example, TravelPerk is a market-leading travel management platform that offers specialized event-management software for group travel booking: TravelPerk Events.
With TravelPerk Events, you’ll be able to set up an automated travel policy for your event, ensuring that all travelers stay within budget. You can also assign an event label to all trips booked for your event, so you can keep track of actual costs across your team at a glance, without having to resort to complicated Excel spreadsheets and budget templates. You can see how to do this below.
Tracking costs for your company events
If you’re planning a team get-together soon, TravelPerk Events allows you to track how much you’re spending on travel and accommodation in real time. Simply apply your own customized labels and track what you’re spending using our personalized reporting tools. Staying on budget has never been so easy.
TravelPerk’s Starter tier offers you 5 free bookings per month (and additional bookings for a 5% commission), while the Premium and Pro tiers offer more features for a monthly fee. You’ll only pay for the software in months where you make a booking, and you can add unlimited travelers for no extra cost.
In addition, you can take advantage of the FlexiPerk program to gain peace of mind. For a modest 10% fee per trip, your travelers will be able to cancel any of their bookings at any time up to two hours before travel, and get a minimum of 80% of their trip refunded. By using FlexiPerk, travelers can save an average of 40% compared to traditional flexible fares.
Corporate agencies or local travel agents
Some companies choose to book their event travel through a travel agency—either a local, consumer-facing agency, or one that specializes in corporate bookings.
This option may offer some of the same advantages as using a travel management software platform. For example, corporate travel agencies may be able to negotiate group rates on flights or hotels. They may also be able to create and implement a travel policy on your behalf, to ensure travelers stay within budget without overspending.
However, this is ultimately likely to be more complicated and expensive than using travel booking software. Many travel agencies have complex fee models and require strict yearly contracts. They typically offer a limited inventory of travel options at above-market prices, often excluding low-cost flights (some agencies even charge an extra fee for selecting a low-cost carrier).
And even in cases where travel agencies could save you money, travelers often prefer to avoid the hassle of dealing with a travel agent. Rather than spending time emailing back-and-forth, or phoning the agency (especially since many agencies don’t offer 24/7 on-site customer service), travelers may simply opt to book via consumer sites. If your team members and stakeholders aren’t using the company's business travel agency, you won’t be able to easily enforce your travel policy or take advantage of any discounts.
Consumer booking websites/self-booking
Finally, some companies allow travelers to book on their own using self-booking websites (like Skyscanner or Booking.com). Or, they may have you as the travel manager making everyone’s bookings on these sites. This will give you more autonomy, and greater access to low-cost flights, than using a travel agency.
On its surface, this may seem like a cost-free way to book travel... and it may indeed work when planning travel for a small business, or if you’ve just started with your event program. But self-booking can end up costing a significant amount of money, and also taking up more of your valuable time.
You’ll have to spend time collating invoices from multiple vendors, reimbursing employees, and filing expense reports post-event. If employees book trips on their own, you won’t be able to guarantee collaborative compliance with your travel policies. And many consumer sites offer primarily non-refundable fares. While these fares may seem low, they also include high cancelation and change fees.
To see how TravelPerk Events can help you save money on group business travel, contact us to see our platform in action today.