Are you starting to think about travelling abroad for business once again now that Covid-19 lockdown measures are being lifted? It’s fair to say that most business travel isn’t quite as frivolous as movies would have us believe, especially with the many new health and safety precautions you’ll be faced with both in the airport and during the flight. In reality, company spending has to be justifiable and reasonable, and in any case, saving money on business travel itself allows more in the bank for client entertaining or other expenses.
If you’re keen to ensure that your professional travel expenses don’t raise eyebrows for the wrong reasons, the good news is that there are numerous ways to get better deals on flights than the traveller you may be sitting next to. That doesn’t have to mean flying super-economy either; you can still fly Business Class, but simply without the usual price tag. Here are a few ways to save money on flights.
Price-finding apps, services and alerts
One thing that stops a lot of business travellers from getting the best deals, is that they simply don’t have the spare time needed to scroll through endless deals websites, comparing prices down to the pennies. Thankfully, you can still keep an eye on the best choices through apps and alerts that do the hard work for you.
Jack’s Flight Club is a particularly good choice for business travellers, as their free email alerts about the latest great deals often include huge savings on Business Class flights. If you’d prefer app notifications over new emails in your inbox, tapping your chosen route into the Skyscanner app and switching on price alerts is another simple option. You’ll see the cheapest options across all available airlines, as well as being able to filter by direct flights only, and searching by city rather than specific airport.
Consider different airport options
Browsing by city instead of airport is really useful if you’re trying to save cash, because many major destinations have both a central and a slightly-out-of-town arrival point. If you’re on limited time for your trip, the best-known airport might be the best one – but if you can spare an additional half an hour to an hour at each side of your journey, take a look to see if an alternate airport will save you cash.
Prime examples of simple switches that can save large amounts on your flight, are landing at Reus instead of Barcelona, or London City and London Luton instead of London Gatwick. Instead of New York’s JFK, try Newark or La Guardia, or to save on a trip to Los Angeles, try Long Beach or Burbank instead of LAX.
International flight-shop hack
If you’re already required to use a VPN to protect your file transfers and finances while working on the move, then this tip should be easy to use. What’s become common knowledge among budget travellers, but less so with corporate flyers, is that virtual private network apps (also known as VPNs) can be used to get you cheaper flights.
Regional price variations mean that if you’re booking from London or New York, you might pay a three-figure sum more than someone booking the same flight, with the same airline, from Malaysia or Poland. If you find a flight that seems to cost more than it should, try using your VPN to browse the internet as if you’re in another location – it could save you and your company as much as $1,000 on the cost of a return trip.
Check out package deals
If you’ve already got accommodation sorted, this might seem counterintuitive. However, it’s sometimes possible to get a package deal for a lower price than just buying return flights alone would be – mainly due to the use of chartered flights by package providers.
Booking a business trip and browsing holiday discount sites don’t normally go hand in hand, but in the six to eight weeks before departure there are huge reductions on the cost of flight and hotel packages online. For last-minute trips, it’s worth seeing if there are any suitable flights you could take, as reductions can be as high as 75% off the original cost of travel.
Better yet, if you haven’t already got your hotel sorted, you might wind up with a more luxurious stay as the result of pinning down a special offer.
Book at the right time
Business trips range between those which are planned months in advance and those which happen with almost no notice at all. As a general rule, the best time to book is either late in the year before the travel date – before costs creep up as more people plan – or in those last two months before take-off.
It’s not just package holiday sellers who drop their fees in this final window; luxury airlines are known to do so too. In their case, there tends to be a temporary fee reduction rather than a permanent one, where you’ll see flights selling for 30%-70% less than the standard price. Leave it too close to departure, though, and these prices can jump back up again.
Other ways to save money on business travel
If you’re booking travel for other members of your team, or simply putting forward options to the boss, there are a number of other things to consider that can help your business trip stay budget-friendly.
Setting up company account access to ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft can help to cut costs on taxis between destinations, while ensuring that you or the person you are booking for has proper global health cover can save huge sums in the event of illness or accident during the trip.
Depending on the location of any meeting or conference venues, it’s also worth looking at accommodation options outside of city centres. In some instances, it will be cheaper to travel in from a hotel via public transport than to spend extra on staying in the city centre.
Precisely how much you can save will depend on how flexible you are able to be with locations and timings, but regardless, you should be able to find great deals using the tips and tricks above.