Similar to leisure travel, business travel is picking up as the impacts of the pandemic die down. With the demand growing, the costs associated with business travel have also grown.
To help businesses get more value out of their travel, seasoned business travel expert Bertrand Saillet, Managing Director of FCM Asia, has offered eight useful tips. These money-saving hacks have been tried and tested by business travellers over the years.
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1. Book flights eight to 14 days before departure
You can find the cheapest domestic airfares and save up to 20 per cent when you book your flight eight to 14 days before departure. Airlines tend to release cheaper seats around this time to fill their flights. Given business meetings are often arranged one to two weeks ahead, this hack is more useful to businesses than leisure travellers.
2. Book flights on the quarter-hour or half-hour
A classic case of supply and demand, flights that leave on the hour are more costly as they are booked more frequently.
For example, an executive assistant or travel booker may be instructed to book a flight at 8am, and they will simply book a flight at that exact time. By booking flights 15 or 30 minutes on either side of the hour, travel bookers can find a less busy, and therefore more affordable option.
You can also make use of websites like Skyscanner for an easier comparison of flights.
3. Book early-week flights
Google Flights data shows that, on average, flights that depart on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday have been 12 per cent cheaper than weekend departures. This hack will be useful for business travellers who have the flexibility to book early-week meetings.
Late-week flights, while more expensive, come with other bonuses: A traveller may be paying more for a Friday flight, but they have the added advantage of enjoying a weekend away in that destination.
4. Stick to one or two airline rewards programmes
It’s tempting to sign up for every rewards programme out there, but it is better to utilise just one or two of the major ones and grow your membership status within them.
The most covetable perks in these programmes, such as the first pick of seats, additional luggage, and business lounge access, are available for members who reach gold or platinum status. These statuses are difficult to achieve if you spread your flights across multiple programmes.
The major programmes allow you to accumulate and redeem points when flying with a broad range of alliance partners. For instance, Singapore Airlines, which has the KrisFlyer rewards programme, is under the world’s largest global airline alliance Star Alliance. This means you can also accumulate and redeem points with the other airlines in the alliance, such as Japan’s All Nippon Airways, Taiwan’s EVA Air, and Thailand’s Thai Airways.
5. Negotiate prices across your travel suppliers every 24 months
Many businesses have a “set and forget” approach to their travel policies. But you should do a regular review and negotiate prices and scope of services set out in your policy, such as hotels and car hire companies, with your providers. It may also be worthwhile switching to providers that offer better value.
6. Use the “five-block rule” to cut costs for city bookings
To save on hotels and restaurants in cities, avoid booking within five blocks of the Central Business District (CBD). When looking for an alternative, choose areas with good public transport and easy access back into the CBD.
7. Bundle your trips
While same-day trips were hugely popular in 2019, weekly trips are taking over as businesses bundle several meetings in a single two- or three-day trip. You can also consider tacking on a leisure trip to the end of your business meetings and booking your travel activities online for a better deal on sites like Booking.com, Klook, KKday and Trip.com.
8. Join value-add programmes and sign up for travel e-newsletters
To keep track of sales and discount codes exclusive to subscribers, you can selectively sign up for hotel and airline e-newsletters.
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