5 tips to stretch your business travel dollars

Written by admin on February 2, 2009 – 9:11 pm -

Some people are putting traveling on hold and not going any place that isn’t 100 percent essential.

Welcome to the world of video conferencing and talking via Skype or other programs such as Go to Meeting.

But there are times when business people need to sit down together and make personal contact. The challenge is how to make meetings more cost effective.

Here are some options:

1. Surf the Internet for the least expensive airfare and decide whether or not you’re willing to stay at one of the suggested hotels and rent a car (if needed). Package deals often save money.

2. Some people are opting to stay at less expensive hotels. “Residence” ones, where you can eat some meals or have a drink without going to the bar or the restaurant are cost effective. More than likely, there’s a grocery/liquor store within striking distance.

If you’re traveling on business, ask your client to suggest a hotel. If it’s the pits, you can book another. Make sure it’s close to where you’ll be conducting meetings or make sure there is direct public transportation.

3. The days of having a car and driver waiting have become an extreme luxury. Ask the receptionist to arrange for a taxi to meet you when you’re leaving a meeting.

Some people suggest their colleagues or clients meet them at the airport, and/or pick them up and drop them off each day at the hotel. It saves on rental cars and taxi fares. Plus, it insures you get to meetings at the scheduled hour. In addition, the commuting time can be used to discuss business.

4. If you have to host a meal, arrange to hold it at a restaurant and offer your guests a fixed menu with two to three choices for each course. That way, you’ll be spared from having to ante up for the person who decides he or she craves lobster. Plus, it saves time not having to discuss who’s eating what.

Some people pack their own food ranging from power bars to pre-packaged food. That saves money and can be eaten on the run. There’s nothing like having nuts or trail mix to satisfy middle-of-the night munchies. Whatever you do, stay away from the mini-bar.

5. One friend told me she is now willing to share a room at a conference. Sue said she would never have considered that before but it’s a real cost saver and she’s met some terrific people. I wouldn’t share a room with a stranger — but that’s me.

Welcome to 2009 and being creative when it comes to saving money. Your job may depend on it as well as whether or not you win the contract.

What compromises are you willing to make when you take business trips?

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.

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