19 August 2020

Top tips for negotiating cheaper rates with your business travel suppliers

Corporate travel is a significant cost to companies; over 8 million overseas trips are taken each year, with UK firms footing a collective travel annual bill of £4.7 billion. Many organisations are keen to reduce this bill – but what is the best way to keep travel expenditure to a minimum?

The simplest method for cutting the cost of work-related trips is travelling less, but this isn’t always a practical option. While outgoings would fall, any potential savings would be offset by the impact of fewer business meetings on profitability, productivity and business growth.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce the financial strain of corporate travel, but fear the commercial impact of fewer business trips, don’t worry; there is an alternative option. Rather than reduce the volume or frequency of overseas meetings, you can use frequent business travel to your advantage – negotiating cheaper rates with the suppliers you use most often.

Searching for deals is valuable, but time consuming

There are many elements to business travel, each of which have a cost attached. While some of these costs are fixed or non-negotiable – for example, mileage, tolls, taxis and parking – other elements such as flights, hospitality and accommodation will vary according to your choice of supplier.

It’s natural for business travellers to shop around for a good deal; 85% of TravelPerk’s annual flight bookings are through low-cost airlines, for example. However, comparing flight, hotel or rail costs is a time-consuming task, which not all companies have the resource or bandwidth to manage independently.

If your team travel frequently, you could be spending hours online, searching for the most competitive travel rates – when there’s a better way to potentially reduce the cost of corporate travel. This alternative is leveraging the power of your data, using corporate travel tracking software.

Use travel tracking technology to gather data insights

Rather than managing travel information manually, travel tracking technology logs each element of every trip through a central system. Logistically, this makes managing travel requirements much simpler, but is also enables businesses to derive powerful insights from your corporate travel data, which can ultimately support more profitable decision-making.

For example, Voyage Manager features built-in data analytics tools that not only report on how many trips your company takes over a period of time and by which transport methods, but also which carriers, hotel chains, car rental companies and third-party booking sites you use most frequently.

Armed with this data, your travel logistics personnel are in a powerful position to negotiate the best possible rates with your preferred suppliers – as you are able to quantify the value of your company to their business, and the impact it would have if you switched allegiances.

Gaining accurate insights over business travel activity also allows you to incentivise suppliers; for instance, if your staff regularly visit a particular destination and book rooms with a certain hotel chain 80% of the time, you can promise them 100% of your business in that location (and others, if applicable) in return for a better room rate.

Share preferred suppliers with your team members

As with any data insights, it’s important to make sure vital information is communicated to those who need it most, in order to make better value travel decisions.

Currently, 69% of employees book their own business travel – so communicating which suppliers they should and shouldn’t use is essential, along with sharing any discount codes they will need to enter in order to benefit from lower prices.

Equally, if your organisation is large enough to warrant its own travel booking team or partner travel agency, personnel should be instructed to approach certain suppliers first if they are able to offer you preferential rates based on repeat business.

And even in situations where a supplier won’t or can’t negotiate, there are still ways to benefit from data insights. For example, if your employees are fans of a particular restaurant chain, encourage them to use loyalty cards whenever they visit, to generate perks and discounts that lower the cost of business trip expenses.

Use travel tracking insights to make better value decisions

An incredible number of organisations still aren’t using the power of frequent business travel requirements to their advantage, simply because they aren’t tracking travel data effectively.

If you’re one of them, travel tracking software platforms like Voyage Manager will help your company to not only streamline travel operations, but also cut the cost of corporate travel through valuable analytical insights.

Voyage Manager provides users with a complete breakdown of travel activities over any given time period, so you can see which suppliers you use most regularly – empowering you to negotiate on price and make better value decisions.

Use travel tracking software to negotiate better rates for your business; book a demo to find out more.