By Mattie Yallaly
In the world of business travel spend, we typically want to glean every last ounce of ROI (Return on Investment) possible from the resulting charges. Whether that is refundable seats, no change/cancelation fees, complimentary upgrades, or addition of amenities such as drink tickets, lounge passes and waiving of resort fees. I have found that this can best be accomplished with the simple mantra, “It’s worth the ask.”
1. Flying Like a Road Warrior
To best leverage travel funds, most of the larger carriers offer group flight options of some kind. If you know that you will have 5-10 or more corporate travelers departing from the same location and/or arriving at the same location, reach out to your airline representative or if applicable, your Travel Management Company (TMC) account manager to coordinate and build a plan.
2. Upgrade Please
Asking for upgrades for your frequent travelers from your contracted carriers not only tells them they are a preferred vendor but also drives compliance to company policy, thus resulting in cost savings. Your travelers are then more likely to reach out to your department seeking advice and assistance that will put you in a better position to negotiate terms and amenities.
3. Shop That Price
While a full-blown RFP may be more than what you want to launch, a nice simple RFI will gather good data to determine if you want to move forward with a different option. Whether it is your TMC, hotel rates or vendor, or air carrier contracts, use the power of competition in your favor to ensure that the best pricing and options are available to your company. Most online booking tools allow for banners that you can offer to your preferred suppliers as advertisements to the company travelers. Companies pay good money to get their brand out to the buyers, and this can lend a considerable boost to the request for a better rate.
4. Unused Ticket Management
Now here is a hot topic that cropped up with the pandemic a bit more than it had before. Maintaining and managing this list to ensure that the credits are applied in a timely manner is vital. Communicate with your travel management company to make sure that the rules they follow in the application of the credit to flight are in line with what you and your company desire. Often, TMCs will not apply a credit if they believe too much will be lost in the residual (not all carriers allow use of the leftovers). They may result in the credit expiring with the decreased demand as another flight may not come along that qualifies for the credit application.
5. Communication is Key
Whether you are working with your corporate departments or staying in contact with your vendor, communication and the development of relationships is a very large part of maintaining a travel budget. We all know that typically waiting until the last-minute costs more (there are always those exceptions where someone got a trip to Las Vegas for half the normal cost booking 30 min prior to departure… right) so by being proactive and involved in the planning, you can save your company money as well as have the time to negotiate in a few extras.