As a cost-conscious small business owner, you've probably noticed that business travel isn't getting any cheaper.
The U.S. Travel Association estimates that business travel in the U.S. is responsible for more than $246 billion in annual spending, nearly half of which is dedicated to shuttling employees to meetings and events.
In theory, strategic business travel pays for itself by increasing your company's ability to generate revenue. But in most businesses, travel expense categories (including ground transportation) are attractive targets for cost reductions.
When it's all said and done, every dollar you save transporting your company's business travelers on the ground represents a dollar increase in your firm's net profits. With that in mind, here are five proven strategies you can employ to manage ground transportation expenses.
- Hotel Shuttles. The use of hotel shuttles is the easiest way to save money on ground transportation – some hotels offer free airport shuttles for their guests. Shuttles are only slightly less convenient than cabs, so the key is to motivate your employees to consider hotels with shuttle service when they plan business trips.
- Airport Meetings. Sometimes business travelers fly into a destination just to conduct a face-to-face meeting with an associate. Although it may not be appropriate for client or even vendor meetings, the practice of conducting meetings at the airport can significantly reduce ground transportation costs over time.
- Economy vs. Midsize. Car rentals are a normal part of the business travel experience. One of the ways to manage the cost of rentals is to create a travel policy that encourages company travelers to reserve economy models rather than midsize cars or SUVs. If you experience pushback, remind employees that they don't have to buy the car – they just need a vehicle to help them get around for a few days.
- Refueling Rentals. It's also a good idea to refuel rental vehicles before returning them to the rental company. Car rental providers charge a hefty premium for refueling – in fact, they count on it in their revenue projections. Save cash by refueling at an independent gas station near the airport.
- Public Transportation. Many travelers mistakenly view public transportation as the least attractive ground transportation option. However, in large, urban centers, public transportation can be an affordable and effective way for business travelers to move around. For example, London's tube system goes directly from Heathrow airport into the heart of the city, giving business travelers an acceptable and cost-conscious alternative to cabs or cars.