As covered in last week’s blog post “The Rising Costs of Business Travel and Managing Your Company’s Expenses,” the cost of business travel is increasing. Despite the rise in gas prices which ultimately affects the costs of flights, rental car rates, and other transportation services, there are still ways that you can save your company some serious dough when it comes time to book your next business trip.
The eBook 10 Ways to Cut Corporate Travel Costs has lots of great solutions to save your company money when it comes to travel.
- Create a company wide travel policy. This policy should be in writing and distributed to everyone. It needs to include booking guidelines, expense allowances, and travel budgets.
Hire a Travel Coordinator. Having one person in charge of booking all of your companies travel arrangements will allow them to find the best rates on flights, hotels, and cars since this is their primary responsibility. They will also know more ways to save money. Small business? No problem. Simply assign this task to one of your existing employees.
For longer stays, try an extended stay hotel or corporate housing. Providing your employees accommodations with kitchens will ultimately save money on meals.
Book mid-priced hotel rooms. Many 3 star hotels have been revamped to accommodate business travelers for a fraction of the cost. Many include free wi-fi, breakfast, and meeting rooms. Be sure your employees know that the company will not cover room service or mini-bar charges.
- Negotiation is always an option. Most hotels do offer corporate rates. Be sure to tell them that you are booking travel for your company. If they don’t offer a discount right off the bat, then you can always tell them you have narrowed it down between their hotel and another hotel close by and see if they offer you a discount then.
Encourage employees to stay with friends or family. If your employee has friends or family in the area and they choose to stay there (which will ultimately save you tons on accommodations) then give them an allowance for a thank you gift or dinner compliments of the company.
Book all travel arrangements in advance. The cost of airlines, hotels, and rental cars increase the closer it gets to your trip. In order to save money, be sure to book well in advance if possible.
- Save money on rental cars by booking with smaller brands. Many times, there are other rental car companies that can offer lower rates. They might not be at the airport but typically do offer complimentary shuttle service.
- Purchase coach class for domestic travel. The plane will get your employees to their destinations regardless of what type of seat they have so only splurge on business class if it’s an international flight.
Hire a Shuttle or Bus for larger group travel. Many offer free wi-fi, video, parking, and refreshments and will allow you to take the whole company for much cheaper than flying!
Hopefully these ten tips will help your company save money the next time you have to book travel arrangements for yourself and/or employees.
The cost of business travel has increased due to the rising prices of hotels, transportation, etc. According to the Business Travel News’ 2013 Corporate Travel Index, the average cost for U.S. corporate travelers is $292 per person per day!
An article in The New York Times “Trapped in the Middle Seat” by Jad Mouawad published last May explores the rising costs of travel for both domestic and international trips; the importance of creating and managing company travel policies; and adapt to new travel mobile technologies to aid in finding the best prices. The article also promotes business travel for greater profitability and productivity: “…every dollar invested in business travel has historically brought in $20 in extra profits to American businesses.” So, how can today’s businesses still receive all the benefits of business travel but with lower costs?
One way is to have your employees stay in 3-star hotels instead of 4. Rock Blanco, the President of Travel G.P.A. reports that “a midsize company with an annual travel budget of $5 million, including $1.1 million on hotels, could save $150,000 a year if just 5% of its hotel bookings were downgraded by one notch.” Another way is to book your travel earlier to get better rates on flights, hotels, and car rentals.
There are lots of great online resources for booking smarter these days too. Sites like Hotels.com, Travelocity, Kayak, Expedia, etc. allow you to search and compare tons of different hotel rates, flights, rental cars and more. There are tons of great applications available now too that will allow your employees to track all of their trip information (TripIt), stay up to date on flight information (GateGuru), find local restaurants (UrbanSpoon and GrubHub), and so much more!
So, despite the rising prices of travel, there are many ways to be smarter and manage your company’s travel spending. Be sure there is an active company travel policy
covering employees expense reports, what the company covers, travel budgets, etc. so that everyone is in the loop. If your employees are responsible for booking their own travel, be sure to approve all costs before they confirm. Business travel is a great way to expand your company’s reach, network with others, and expand perspectives so don’t let the increasing prices diminish your company’s travel plans.
There are so many different rewards credit cards out there these days that give you points that can be redeemed for free flights, hotels, etc. In a recent blog post by Nomadic Matt “Picking a Travel Credit Card,” he enlightens his readers about the types of cards he uses and the best cards out there today that are great for frequent travelers.
Requirements for a Good Travel Credit Card
Sign-Up Bonuses: A good rule of thumb is to pick a card that will give you enough points right when you sign up that will give you at least 1 free U.S. flight. Otherwise, it could take forever to get enough points for a free flight.
Points to Dollar Ratio: Many cards only offer 1 point for every dollar you spend; however, there are cards out there that will give you more points if you shop at certain retailers or brand.
Choose cards that have below a $1,000 spending minimum. Many cards out there won’t allow you to start earning points until you have spent a minimum of $5,000 or more. So be sure to choose a card with a low spending minimum so you can start reaping the benefits more quickly.
Yearly Fees: The cards with an annual fee tend to give you better rewards and the fee is worth it. Most fees are between $50-$95 per year. Generally, the rewards out-way the fees.
No Foreign Conversion Fees: For traveling oversees, you want to be sure you choose a rewards card that doesn’t have a foreign conversion fee. Most cards charge you 3% when you use them internationally but they also offer great exchange rates. Here are some cards that do not charge a foreign conversion fee: Capital One No Hassle Card, American Express Platinum Card, United Mileage Plus Card, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
What Kind of Card do You Need?
To determine the best card for your needs, you must first ask yourself what are you going to use the card for? Do you want a rewards card that will give you free flights? Do you just want a card without international fees? Do you need a travel card that has brand loyalty? Or just a general rewards card that can be used at an array of vendors?
A great card for business travelers is the Starwood American Express card which offers hotel points, free stays, you can transfer the points to get free flights, and you also receive discounts from a number of other retailers. General rewards cards are best for those of you who don’t want specific brand loyalty because you would still get rewards points for free flights, discounts, and even cash back, just no elite benefits. If you aren’t concerned with points, miles, etc. then just be sure you get a card with no transaction fee.
Current Travel Card Promotions
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. Currently, you get 25,000 Starwood points when you sign up. You also get 5,000 bonus Starwood Points after you transfer 20,000 Starpoints for flights with no blackout dates and over 350 airlines to choose from! Matt highly recommends this card.
The Platinum Card from American Express. You get 25,000 Membership Rewards when you spend a minimum of $2,000 your first 3 months. This card does have a high annual fee of $450 but is great for frequent travelers as you get free airport lounge access, a $200 USD airline credit, travel coverage, and an elite level status for a number of companies.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. You receive 2x the points when you use your card for travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. You can transfer your points to other frequent flyer programs with no transfer fees. When you redeem your points through Ultimate Rewards, get 20% off of travel. No foreign transaction fees.
American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card. Earn 25,000 points after you spend $2,000 in your first 3 months and earn 15,000 more points when you spend $30,000 within one calendar year. Receive double points on groceries and gas within the U.S. and triple points on flights. Receive 1 point for every other $1 spent also.
Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World Mastercard. Earn 40,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $3,000 the first 3 months. Get the 1st checked bag free for you and 4 travel companions. Earn priority boarding with Group 1 privileges. Earn $100 American Airlines flight discount every year you renew your membership and spend $30,000 or more within the year. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 you spend on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 point for every $1 on other purchases.
United MileagePlus Explorer Credit Card. Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months and earn 10,000 additional bonus miles every calendar year you spend at least $25,000. Check your first bag free for you and a companion. Receive priority boarding before general boarding. NO foreign transaction fees. Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on United flights and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. There are no blackout dates for redeeming miles on any United flight and your miles will never expire as long as you are a card member and there is no mileage limit.
US Airways Dividend Miles Premier World Mastercard. Receive 30,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and earn an additional 10,000 miles when you transfer a balance within 90 days after opening the card. Earn 2 miles for every $1 on all US Airways purchases. Receive an annual companion certificates good for up to 2 companion tickets for $99 each plus taxes and fees. Reward travel begins at 20,000 points.
There are lots of great deals out there for frequent business travelers to jump on to receive free or discounted flights, hotel rooms, rental cars and more! Hopefully this guide helps you choose the right travel card for your business.
There are so many applications these days designed to help today’s business travelers. You want to make sure you have at least one app that acts as a one-stop-shop for all of your travel itineraries which makes finding everything easy while on the go.
TripIt is one app that allows all of your reservation itineraries to be in one place. Hotels, car rentals, and flight information can all be accessed by just going to this app. Available for Windows 7, Blackberry, Android, iPhone, iPad, and tablets. Here are some other applications that will streamline your travel too:
Taxi Magic. Using this app allows you to book a cab, pay for the ride via credit card, and track the arrival of your cab all from your phone. You can download this app now for iPhone or Google Play.
Lookout. Since the business world is also becoming more mobile, you want to make sure that all of your business and personal information stays secure on your phones and tablets too. Lookout will scan all of your apps to make sure they are safe; protect you from malware; and prevent access to any fraudulent websites.
Evernote. Stay connected and productive while on the go. Evernote allows you to save webpages (all data, links, and pictures); take pictures; record sound; share your data with co-workers; search for keywords; and it sinks to all of your devices for free. You can download this for Windows Desktop; Windows 8 Touch Screen; MAC OSX; Safari; Chrome; Firefox; iPhone, iPad, iPod touch; Android; Blackberry; and Windows phone.
SeatGuru. This app allows you to see the outline of the airplane you will be taking and it rates the comfort of the seats on board. They have a list of airlines to choose from and comparison charts for different classes. You can even search for flights directly from this sight with comfort recommendations.
All Subway. This app has over 163 maps of most of the worlds major cities subways which comes in handy when you are in unfamiliar territory. You can also view other maps that aren’t on the application already. This app is $0.99 and is available on iPhone and Android.
With all the great technological advancements today, business travel just got a whole lot easier and more secure. Be sure to protect your mobile devices from threats especially when using them for business.
Safe travels out there!
A recent article posted at NBCNews.com Business uses Zillow’s Break Even Horizon to determine the top 10 cities where renting is more economically sound than buying and how long it takes on average to break even if purchasing a home. This figure is calculated based on the net cost of purchasing a home vs. renting the same house. Here are the top 10 cities renting costs less than buying:
New York City, NY. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 5 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $2,016; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index: 19.4%
Renting an apartment in the city would save more money than purchasing a home unless you were going to be living in NYC for more than 5 years. The average home price is $462,500. A 20% down payment is going to be $93,000 for a home this much and with the current rate of 3.277% and a 30 year fixed mortgage, you are looking at a monthly mortgage payment of $2,145 which is higher than the current rental index.
Seattle, WA. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 4.3 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $1,850; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index: 4.7%
Waterfront property in Seattle averages about $392,200 as of December 2012.
Boston, MA. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 3.9 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $2,299; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index: 11.3%
Based on 25 new single family homes for sale in Boston, MA, the average home costs $727,200. A 20% down payment is $145,000 with a 3.277% interest rate, your monthly mortgage payment would be $3,334. Renting in Boston on average would be a monthly savings of $1,035.
Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, CA tied for 4th for the amount of years it would take to break even if purchasing a home.
Washington, D.C. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 3.7 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $2,439; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index: 7%
There has been an increase in new home development in the D.C. area. As of December last year, the average home cost $402,400 which is up by 10%.
San Francisco, CA. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 3.9 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $3,281; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index: 12%
San Fran has seen an 18% increase in home sale prices year after year! Currently, the average home costs $770,600. A 20% down payment of $154,000 with the current interest rate of 3.277% would be a $3,529 monthly payment. By renting, you would save on average of $248 a month.
Portland, OR. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 3.6 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $1,423; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index:
Portland has the most bike commuters in the U.S. Last year, 21.49% of homes sold were sold at a loss, but the average value of homes has risen 8.8% ($257,400).
San Diego, CA. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 3.4 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $2,116; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index: 2.9%
The average San Diego home value is up 11% making the average home $404,100.
Los Angeles, CA and San Jose, CA tied for 7th place based upon the number of years it would take to break even after purchasing a home in either location.
Los Angeles, CA. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 3.3 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $2,311; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index: 2.3%
Los Angeles has a very high unemployment rate and the home rates dropped about 35% which actually makes L.A. more affordable for home owners. The average home costs $399,800 which was up by 9.7% as of December 2012. If you put down a 20% payment of $80,000 with the 3.277 interest rate with a fixed 30 year mortgage, your monthly payment is going to be $1,863.
San Jose, CA. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 3.3 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $2,513; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index: 4.5%
San Jose, CA has a lot more people interested in purchasing homes since the average annual income is $92,500. San Jose has a very high employment rate with over 6,000 technology companies. The average home in San Jose is $544,600 so if you put down 20% ($109,000) + 3.277% + 30 years = $2,514 monthly mortgage payment which is $1 higher per month than the current rental index!
Denver, CO. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 2.8 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $1,468; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index: 9.3%
As of December 2012, Denver’s average home value was up by 14.1% with the average home costing $233,700.
Austin, TX. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 2.7 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $1,516; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index: 6.2%
At the end of last year, Austin had an overall home value increase of 4.7% = $209,900.
Nashville, TN. Zillow Break Even Horizon: 2.6 Years; Zillow Rental Index: $1,190; Annual Change in Zillow Rent Index: 3.8%
The average home cost is now $140,000, which is up by 6%.
Most of the cities listed above experienced an overall increase last year in their median home values which is great news overall for the market!
Let’s face it, travel in general is filled with stress but business travelers experience these much more frequently. A recent poll from TripIt determined the top 5 most common stresses associated with travel:
- Exercise. 67% of frequent travelers said that the pressure to exercise was stressful – 17% of these responders found it to be extremely stressful.
- Healthy Eating. 66% of responders found eating healthy to be a challenge and added to the overall stress of traveling – 19% said it was extremely stressful.
- To do list upon return. 64% found the pressure of tasks needing to be done when they returned home to be a significant source of stress while traveling.
- Airport Security. Of the people that were polled, 59% found airport security to be very stressful.
- Driving in a new city. The lowest on the top 5 travel stresses is driving in a new city. 54% of respondents found this to be very stressful when they travel.
Since exercise and healthy eating are the two highest stresses for frequent business travelers, here is a list of suggestions that TripIt recommended to help alleviate some of your stress:
Bring healthy, portable snacks with you so you won’t be as temped to buy un-healthy snacks when the hunger sets in. Bring along some almonds or a banana to help tie you over between meals.
Instead of ordering a large dinner, choose a small plate or an appetizer for dinner instead. If you opt for a salad, keep in mind that the dressing has a ton of fat and calories so it’s best kept on the side. Salad is not always the healthiest choice on the menu either so be smart when choosing.
Instead of using escalators or moving sidewalks, try taking the stairs or walk to keep you moving.
Track how many steps you are taking with a pedometer or an app on your phone.
- Ask for a map of the local area with running/walking trails or nearby parks.
- Do crunches, pushups, jumping jacks, chair dips, stretching, and any other activity that doesn’t require any equipment in your room.
It is a stressful world we live in and the constant traveling makes life that much more hectic. Hopefully these tips from TripIt will make your future business trips less stressful, more active, and healthier.
Safe travels everyone!
Many of us have a 9-5 job or jobs in the service industry where we don’t have a lot of time to go on long, lavish vacations. A recent blog post by Nomadic Matt titled “How Can You Travel More Even if You Work a 9-5 Job” sheds some light on how you can use your time off most effectively while still being able to travel – even with a limited amount.
Most American’s have 2 weeks vacation per year plus the weekends = 110 travel days. Most of us also get holidays off and have some three day weekends here and there which gives us even more time to travel each year. Sure, it isn’t consecutive time but you could take a long vacation by using your 2 weeks in a row. Here are some tips on how you can maximize your time to travel a lot more this year:
Weekends. Sure the weekends only offer 2 full days (unless it’s a 3 day weekend) but that is plenty of time to explore a city close to you.
Find a location that is closer to you. If you are in America then traveling to Australia for only one week would be a waste since your travel time takes up almost 3 days! Instead, take a trip to Central America which is closer. Generally the closer the destination, the cheaper the flight is going to be too.
Be a tourist in your own city. Take time to explore the city you currently live in. Go to the museums, tourist attractions, new areas you have never been, etc. Being a tourist in your own city will give you new insight on where you live.
- Don’t try to see it all at once. Instead of trying to see everything in a short amount of time, focus on a couple attractions and destinations that you want to go see. This way, you will be less overwhelmed and will have more time to enjoy the place you are visiting.
Next time you feel like getting away, remember these 4 tips that will make your experience more fun in less time. As the famous Roy Rogers croons, “Happy trails to you, until we meet again. Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.”
Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine is hosting the Investor Provider Leadership Summit in Baltimore, MD April 25th-26th at the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel, 101 W Fayette St, Baltimore MD 21201.
Become familiar with strategies, service leaders, providers, and side channels that could increase your overall sales and revenue. The past event was very successful in producing hundreds of property sales to both domestic and international property investors.
Learn more about how you can make money from investment properties and hear from our very own Kimberly Smith of AvenueWest Managed Corporate Housing with her segment on the “High Margin Rental Niche.”
Don’t hesitate to register for this great event – there are only a few seats left! We hope to see you there!
If you have ever traveled alone or are planning on going soon, there are many rewards like the opportunity to experience everything that you wish to and to meet new people, but there are also precautions that need to be taken.
In the March 2013 addition of “Healthcare Traveler” there was an article published called “Safety Measures for the Solo Traveler” meant to advise single healthcare travelers on some safety measures they should take. But, these tips should be used for anyone traveling alone.
- Tell a family member or friend your travel plans. Be sure you give all the details of your travel plans with someone back home that you trust including your new address and phone number of where you will be staying. Leave them with your travel itinerary too and check in with them regularly to let them know you are safe. If you have your security settings on Facebook set to friends and family only, then posting status updates might also be a good way to let others know of your whereabouts in case anything happens.
- Double check your cell-phone company’s coverage in the new area. Be sure that your cell phone will work well in the new area you are going to – sometimes cellular providers do not have superior coverage in other areas as they might where you currently live. Go to their website and check the map of coverage.
- Get to your destination while it is still light out. You will be able to find your way around much easier in unfamiliar territory if you can see by the light of day.
- Have a GPS App on your phone (if you don’t already). Get one that will show you walking routes as well. It is also a good idea to map the surrounding areas of the place you are staying prior to getting there to determine any possible bad areas that you want to avoid.
- Don’t share too much personal information to new people you meet. Meeting new friends is great but be leery to give them any information about where you are staying or the fact that you are traveling alone as you never know who you might be talking to these days.
- Be careful if you decide to drink. If you are a drinker, don’t leave your drink unattended and don’t drink too much especially when you are first meeting new people. You want to remain in the right state of mind in case anything happens.
The majority of the time traveling alone is a very rewarding experience and nothing bad happens. But, just be smart whenever you are traveling to a new place – alone or otherwise – but especially when you are on your own.
Stay safe out there!