Small Business Brief

Employees, Travel

How to Save Money on Employee Travel Costs

Technology has made it easier than ever before to work from anywhere. In fact, recent surveys indicate that nearly three-quarters of all employees work remotely at least once a week.

Even with the ease of digital communication, however, face-to-face interactions still have an irreplaceable impact. Whether it’s to establish a new partnership, close a big sale, or engage in professional development, employees sometimes need to travel to make those in-person connections.

So how can your company save on these necessary employee travel expenses? Let’s take a closer look.

Use the Most Efficient Form of Transportation

When you are reimbursing travel expenses, it’s important to require your employees to use the most efficient form of transportation. Sometimes, however, the answer is not obvious.

Public Transit vs Driving

If your business is located in a city like New York, DC, or Boston, it is almost always more efficient to have your employees get to a meeting across town by taking public transit, rather than by driving. Not only will public transit be cheaper, but it will also free up your employee’s time to listen in on a conference call or catch up on emails.

If you have a few employees who will regularly be using public transit to attend business meetings, invest in a monthly pass. This will translate into huge savings over time.

Rental Car vs Personal Vehicle

That said, if you live in a less populated area, or your employee needs to travel a greater distance, a car will be necessary. This raises a new question: should you rent a car for the employee, or have them use their personal vehicle?

The answer might surprise you: for any travel over a distance of about 90 miles, it’s almost always less expensive to pay for a rental car.

For a personal vehicle, you must reimburse at the federal rate of 58 cents a mile. This is because mileage reimbursement accounts not only for gas, but for the depreciation of your vehicle, the cost of wear and tear, and the need for repairing your car.

By contrast, it can be much less expensive to pay for your employee to use a rental vehicle. This is especially true if you can negotiate a company rate with the rental company based on frequent use.

Fly vs Drive

It’s clearly less expensive to take a two-hour drive, and clearly more efficient to fly to a destination 2,000 miles away.

But there are some trips that are trickier. What if you have to go to a city 500 miles away? What if it’s only a four-hour drive, but your employee needs to go there once every other week?

These are the instances where you need to evaluate the value of flying vs. driving. Sometimes, it will be cheaper to fly a seemingly short distance than it would be to reimburse for a rental car. Other times, it’s worth it to have your employee fly so they can be more productive, rather than having them spend a whole day in a car.

Once again, call airlines and ask about negotiating a contract. If your employees fly frequently enough, you might be able to get discounts or other perks.

Also, when booking flights, make sure to consult travel app that can help you search for cheap airfare. You can even set up an alert if there is a flight you need to book regularly, or one you know you’ll be taking in the near future.

To Stay or Not to Stay?

This is another issue that comes up with locations that are an awkward distance away: should the employee stay overnight, or should they travel back and forth in the same day?

For locations 2-3 hours away, do your best to schedule meetings later in the day, so the employee can get there without worrying about getting stuck in rush hour traffic.

Sometimes, it may be worth it to look at same-day flights to take the employee in and out of the location. In some cases, it may be cheaper for them to fly there and back than for them to drive and stay over. 

Share Expenses When Possible

No one’s suggesting that you should have two grown adults split a hotel room. But sometimes there are appropriate ways to share expenses.

For instance, if two employees have to go to the same meeting, or are leaving on the same flight, have them carpool. For shorter rides, encourage them to split an Uber or Lyft.

There are even ways to have employees share lodging. Some extended-stay hotels offer two-bedroom suites that are cheaper than two separate rooms. You could even consider looking at a multi-room AirBnB for cheaper accommodations. 

Be Flexible and Plan Ahead

Sometimes, you have no control over when a particular meeting will take place. But when you do, make sure to take travel expenses in mind.

For instance, if you are scheduling a meeting with business contacts across the country, don’t make it for a Monday. Monday morning and Sunday night are some of the busiest (and most expensive) travel days. Scheduling for the middle of the week can be better.

Don’t Overspend on Employee Travel

With these tips in hand, you will never overspend on employee travel again. There’s no need to sacrifice the importance of a face-to-face meeting for the sake of the bottom line.

Looking for more ways to help your business succeed? Check out the rest of our blog for helpful articles.