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Three simple tips for designing a SME travel program and budget

They say the backbone of the Australian economy is small business. In fact, according to most recent bureau of statistics data, a staggering  97%1 of Australian businesses are classified as small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

A large cost to SMEs, apart from Payroll and Human Resources related expenses and general operating costs such as rent and tax, is the seemingly difficult-to-control expense item of staff travel. This article aims to provide three simple and useful tips designed to help SME’s when building a travel program and budget from scratch, or when looking to undertake a review of your current travel program.

 

1)    Know when to outsource to a travel professional

“A chef may do their own tax return, but an accountant will always do a better job”.

You know your business more than anyone. You’re an expert on the ins and outs of the sector you specialise in, and work hard on the daily functions of your business. Well, the travel industry is no different. Often seeking out professional guidance and support in building a travel program from scratch will pay off in trumps – and as a matter of fact, show you rewards almost instantly.

Using the expertise of a Travel Management Company (TMC) will not only free up valuable time allowing you to focus on your core business function, but it also provides the peace of mind that a true travel expert is on your side when you need it the most – such as assisting in a last-minute change, an urgent booking or for complex international travel, a cancellation request, or to help you find that eleventh-hour hotel room in a city packed full of footy fans or concert goers!

An efficient TMC should clearly demonstrate that by working with them you obtain more value, from travel supplier discounts and analysis on better travel and travel purchasing behaviours, than fees. Professional TMC’s should be able to highlight the return on investment back to your business by partnering with theirs and look to not only reduce your overall supplier costs (air/hotel/car hire) but save your business in perhaps the most precious commodity of all, time.

 

2)    Research what rewards programs are available

Travel is a competitive industry – from airlines and hotel chains to credit card companies and car hire firms, there is no shortage of suppliers keen for your travel dollar.

With a plethora of incentive and loyalty programs available, be sure you are not missing out on a ‘value-added’ offering geared at rewarding your business by simply doing business. Both major Australian airlines (Qantas and Virgin) have SME deals providing discounts and rebates. Source an airline-branded credit card to pay for flights with that carrier to reap even greater benefit every time you fly.

SME programs are often free to join and can provide a significant benefit across the organisation – so it’s a no-brainer. If you’re unsure about what programs are available and which could be suited to your business – don’t be afraid to ask your travel provider or speak with CTM today.

 

3)    Consolidate and conquer

Booking travel across multiple websites and platforms is an easy way to exceed your travel budget.

By consolidating your bookings through one central online booking tool (or travel consultant), you will provide your company greater visibility of spend levels, offer a higher duty of care by knowing where your travellers are at any time, and give your company opportunities for further supplier discounts. At CTM, we find that businesses save approximately 8-15% on their travel spend through consolidation of their travel program. The time taken for travel bookings and amendments is also significantly reduced.

Businesses save approximately 8-15% on their travel spend through consolidation of their travel program.

As your travel spend grows, and greater commitment of spend with specific suppliers is possible, negotiated deals are often arranged. A private airfare deal or a hotel contracted rate will see your travel overheads reduce even further.

In conclusion, designing a travel program doesn’t have to be scary, or require a lot of work. Research what’s available to your business to minimise costs where possible across the different elements of your travel program and never be afraid to seek professional guidance where needed.

Author: Marc Gold,  Business Solutions Manager – NSW.

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