What to consider when preparing a travel budget

What to consider when preparing a travel budget

Whether you’re new to business travel, your time in the air is taking off, or your business has a seasoned travel program that ticks over each year, having a travel budget is crucial to help you stay on track with your travel costs.

Nicole Burrows, Account Manager at Flight Centre Business Travel shares her insights into what you need to keep in mind when putting together a travel budget – from tangible costs to traveller burnout – and how to make sure you meet your targets.

Travel Policy

The tangible costs of business travel

When you first think of what travel expenses you need to factor into a travel budget, you'll likely come up with flights, hotels, maybe car hire and travel insurance. And you’re right; these are generally the big ones. But there are more expenses to consider.

“When we drill down a little further, there are also meals while on the road and transfer options like GPU. These are all tangible costs that you can account for in your overall travel budget,” says Nicole.

Being aware of the incidental costs that your travellers have while on the road can help you budget while consolidating your business travel bookings can help to reduce the overall cost.

“Almost all of your travel expenses can be booked and invoiced through the one supplier. And what’s more, booking hotels that provide breakfast will reduce the travel meal expenses. Overall, this reduces time spent on booking and expense reconciliation and also helps hit your budget targets,” says Nicole.

Business owner plans out budget costs

What about time?

Before a bag is packed and well after it's unpacked again, time is spent on a trip. There's time to research and book the travel, potential delays and downtime while in transit, and the time spent reconciling expenses when your traveller gets back.

Time might not have its own line on your P&L, but it all adds up when considering the costs of business travel, says Nicole: “If you’re searching multiple websites and you’re not really sure what you're after, the booking process can take up a lot of time that your travellers could spend more effectively."

Having a travel manager whose expertise is booking business travel can save you time and money, says Nicole: “We know the tricks of the trade and have access to smart options to make sure your travellers get what they want and need while working within your budget and policy specs.”

Business traveller waiting for flight at airport

The hidden costs of travel friction

The term travel friction is becoming more and more common, as businesses and travellers become more aware of the effects of travel.

“When we talk about travel friction, we’re referring to things like jet lag, time spent away from family, the stress caused by travel, employee wellbeing and traveller burnout. These aren’t things we can quantify in a travel budget, but they will certainly contribute to your bottom line,” says Nicole.

If you think that some of your best-performing employees are travelling, and they are taking time off work to recoup from too many trips away, there's an extra travel-related cost that's assigned to other budgets, such as wages or recruitment.

Businessman travelling for work

Consider the right policies

Having a travel policy in place can help combat travel friction, says Nicole: “It’s about having the right policies in place that support your travellers and minimises ‘friction’ when it happens. A good travel policy will support your people, travel budget and business outcomes.”

Develop a travel policy that includes preferred suppliers, what class of flight and standard of accommodation to book, and also what's classified as a reimbursable expense. And seek your travellers’ input into the policy and consider their overall experience to minimise travel friction.

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How an expert can help

A Travel Manager from Flight Centre Business Travel can help determine the best options for you based on your requirements, travel destinations and the suppliers you want to use. And you don’t have to be a big player to benefit.

“Even emerging businesses that don't have a travel history and those who don't have a big volume of travel; you can leverage our rates. We'll tap into our tools and work within your budget to find the best solutions,” says Nicole.

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