Small Business Tips – How To Save On Business Travel

Travel can be a huge expense for any small business that does business in different places. If you are a consultant or if you are a self employed professional then traveling will be a huge part of your business. Although it can be mean a lot more business it can be very bad for your cash flow and making sure that you save wherever you can in really important – especially in this day and age. Another important thing to remember is to charge your clients for your travel expenses as its part of your service.

Finding simple ways to save on business travel expenses can make a huge difference. Saving a little on every trip can add up and if you have several employees then it can quickly add up. Here are 3 basic tips to help you get started.

1. Flights
Air travel, although convenient, can be expensive. With all the checks and regulations its not all that quick either these days as getting to and from the airport, checking in and checking out can be very slow. Its well worth looking into alternative means of transport. Driving or taking a rain can be a faster and more economical way of doing it.

2. Hotels
Accommodation represents a significant part of travel expenses and its probably the one area you want to try and save. There are quite a few alternatives that is well worth looking into. Guest houses are not only cheaper but offer a lot more comfort and value for money and is great for extended travel to prevent yourself from getting the “hotel blues”.

3. Travel Insurance
Taking out individual travel insurance for each trip can quickly add up. If you travel with valuable as part of your business then its an important consideration. Try and put your travel insurance under the same umbrella as your business insurance – it can save you quite a bit.

For small businesses there are some advantage that’s probably not available to bigger businesses. You can certainly look into business grants and government programs. Some programs allow you to write off your travel expenses and some even allow you to conduct business internationally and write off all the travel expenses. The point is that there are a great many options and exploring them all will help you save. As the economy continues to tighten up we all have to spread our wings and look for business opportunities elsewhere. Travel will continue to take a more prominent role in your business, so take advantage of these opportunities.

Why Sound Business Travel Reporting Matters

For any company that has their employees engage in regular travel, it is important to have a good corporate travel strategy. Part of developing and improving on a corporate travel strategy is solid business travel reporting. Business travel reporting provides the company with details about the cost of travel and how the money is being used. This data not only helps to keep track of expenses but it also can be used to identify areas of waste and inefficiency. When this information is tracked and analyzed it can be used to improve upon your company’s business travel strategy. Using the service of a corporate travel agency is an effective means toward achieving all of these goals.

Due to their experience and their connections in the travel and finance industry, a corporate travel firm will be especially suited to provide these services with the highest degree of detail. A corporate travel agency uses a variety of methods to analyze and track a clients business travel expenses. They can use data from banking and credit card records along with the travel records to identify the most and least efficient travelers in your company. They can help to manage airline data to find which carrier is providing the most business friendly service for the most affordable price and they can help to identify waste and abuse of funds.

A corporate booking agency can also help employers to analyze information in a way that can determine how effectively the employees travel and how well they stick to the itinerary and how closely the individual employees stick to the travel strategy. This can be achieved by referencing the data accumulated from credit cards, expense accounts, airline data, hotel bills and rental information. Once all of the data is collected and analyzed, the corporate travel firm can prepare a complete report. The reports will cover a variety of different areas and will often be accompanied by a written summary of the overall information. Clients can also request specialized reporting from a corporate travel agency. These may be to address an area of concern or to see how a new aspect of the travel strategy is working.

Most business travel agencies recommend that their clients schedule regular meetings with their travel manger to go over the business travel reporting and to find ways to improve the corporate travel strategy. The management of a business should meet with their corporate travel manager at least once a year. In these meetings the travel manager can help the client go over the business travel reporting and understand what all of the data means. The manager will help to identify areas of waste and point out parts of the travel plan that are working well. At this time the client can address their concerns about the travel strategy and work to adjust the business travel strategy. A corporate travel agency can also help their client with a plan for implementing the new strategy and addressing the changes with their staff.

Having the services of a business travel agency is a necessity for any company that engages in regular travel. Having a well thought out strategy will not only save the company money, but it will also make sure that the staff is getting the most out of their trip.

Strategies for Hassle Free Business Travel

People often complain about how difficult flying can be these days. I recently spoke with certified speaking professional and author Garrison Wynn to learn what can make it easier to travel and navigate the airlines. Wynn, who categorizes himself as a professional traveler, “commutes” nationwide to about 100 speaking engagements each year. Here, in a series of interviews, he provides tips for ironing the kinks out of air travel for speakers and others who often find themselves flying on business.

Linda Singerle: As a seasoned international keynote speaker, you travel almost continuously. What’s your strategy for eliminating some of the hassles that come with that kind of life?

Garrison Wynn: My advice is to travel light and travel easy. First off, your luggage is key. You want to have sturdy luggage with really good wheels that allow the bag to glide easily so you don’t have to pull it too much. You have to make travel as easy on yourself as you possibly can. In every airport, I see miserable people dragging squeaky-wheeled clunkers and wearing that “Someone please kill me” expression on their faces. My theme for traveling? Make it easy. If you make it difficult, you can’t do a lot of it and you show up at your destination with a new, self-induced priority of simply recovering from travel! You and your clothing have to show up in top condition to do the best you can.

LS: Whathave you learned about how much to take with you on business and how best to pack it?

GW: One thing is to realize the goal. The goal of packing is to arrive at your destination with the things that you need and to have those things arrive in good condition. But if you arrive with the distinctive look of a police mug shot… Well, it’s hard to be influential when you show up at the meeting looking like you’ve slept in the bar. I saw a guy one time who showed up to a conference fresh-faced, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. However, his suit looked like it had a hangover. He made it to the meeting but his suit didn’t really.

LS: So how does one prevent that? I’ve seen you take the stage to deliver your keynote. You look like your suit just came off the tailor’s hanger. How do you not look wrinkled and travel weary?

GW: There are a lot of ways you can pack your clothing so that when it gets there, you almost need to have it pressed. If you don’t do certain things, you’ve got problems.

No. 1: The type of luggage is important. For suits or dresses, you want a tri-fold bag – the kind that your suit lays flat in when you’ve opened up or unfolded the three sections. But before you lay your clothes inside, put each suit or dress in a dry cleaner’s thin plastic bag. Then put one thicker plastic bag around the whole bunch. I often use a garbage bag, but you could also use the thicker bags dry cleaners use on wedding dresses. Just make sure the dry cleaner’s bag has the staples removed and the garbage bag never actually held any garbage (unless you’re looking to make a unique impression).

So the suits are covered in plastic and they’re put into a tri-fold bag. Your next step is to roll up a pillow case and place it at one of the folding points of the bag. Do the same at the other folding point. Now when you fold up the bag, there’s a rolled-up pillow case at the two pinch points. When you do this, you dramatically minimize the wrinkling of your clothing. You’re getting a light fold that’s not so severe that it can’t be steamed out or shaken out.

LS: So do you hang your suit in the hotel bathroom and let the shower steam it?

GW: Many people do hang their clothes in the bathroom and steam the shower up. What I think works a lot better – or even in conjunction with that – is to travel with a handheld steamer. The one I use, E-Steam, is available online for $50-$199. That’s quite a range, I know; it depends on where you get it online. This handheld steamer is a quality item made of hard polymer, and it takes up less space than a pair of shoes. This thing is a miracle item for me, allowing me to steam suits very quickly and effectively. Don’t be fooled by the claims made about other steamers. I’ve tried them all and they produce very weak steam but somehow manage to shoot water on your clothes from 10 feet away.

The first thing you do when you get your suit out of the bag is take it off the wire hanger you travel with (because wire is less clunky) and put it on the hotel’s hanger. Shake the suit out really well and hang it up. After you shake the jacket out, hang it on the hook in the bathroom, plug your steamer in, and hold the steamer about 4 or 5 inches away from the fabric. It works really well! Now, if you think this is something you just can’t do for whatever reason, you can use the shower to steam your suit; just make sure your pants and jacket are well away from the shower head and close the curtain. You want to avoid the appearance of being so nervous about your meeting that you have managed the seemingly impossible feat of sweating through a suit.

You’d be surprised how many businesspeople who are amateur travelers get to a destination and are unable to get their clothing in the condition in which they normally would wear it at home. Women’s business clothes are a little different – they’re made of rayon and polyester and all kinds of different fabric that might travel better or be easier to care for. But men, if you’re wearing a suit, then it’s worsted wool. If your suit’s not made out of wool, then you’ve got problems I can’t help you with. I’ll put it this way: If you’re traveling with a polyester suit, then when you get to where you’re going, whatever you do will not be good enough. If you’re wearing a suit you could strike a match on… If your suit is quite literally a fire hazard… If you start to feel a little hot before realizing your suit is melting… OK, sorry, let’s move on.

LS: Maybe this is a distinctly female question… I think I’m exercising restraint when I travel with four pairs of shoes, which is inevitably two too many. Are there things that people typically pack that we simply just shouldn’t take?

GW: Sure.First off, for women: take only the makeup you will actually wear. Do not take the stuff you’ll just carry in a bag and won’t wear.

And then, yes, there’s the shoe-for-every-outfit quandary. Sometimes I think a woman’s attachment to the “ensemble” overrides any logic. How are you determining how many shoes you need? It’s an odd process that maybe as a male I am destined to never understand. But for some women, it seems that having “shoe options” is more important than having room for anything else.

Basically, if you’re attending one event, one meeting, you would need one pair of shoes. If you’re going out somewhere that night, maybe you’ll need some dressy, strappy shoes. So I guess we’re talking two pairs of shoes. I always recommend you travel in some comfortable shoes and that those would also be the same shoes you wear the day of the event. However, some women may say, “No, no, no. I’m going to have my special travel shoes and then I’ll have my shoes that I wear the day of the event… and then the shoes I wear to dinner at night.” So we’re up to three pairs for one event. Please try to be as practical as possible; I have noticed that women who wear very high heels through airports have been known to check into hotels barefooted with a look of defeat on their faces.

What if you’re going to be multiple days in the city? Are you talking about a different pair of shoes every day? That’s the question you’ve got to ask yourself. If you’re going to wear a different pair of shoes every day, you now have a piece of luggage that primarily contains shoes. Do you travel with a second shoe bag? You’ve now just doubled your luggage. Is it more important to have the exact pair of shoes you want, or do you want to try to travel with a single bag? You could choose to be convenient and practical, or you could choose the flexibility of having a whole bunch of shoes in a separate shoe container. At that point, I think you’re one step away from hatboxes, steamer trunks and an entourage that travels with you.

You can find luggage with all kinds of compartments, with shoe pockets all over. But what condition do you want your shoes to show up in? When you start smashing shoes all together, even the best leather will rub and the contact will scuff your shoes. We will normally only tolerate scratched-up shoes on kids and strippers (although I’m not sure we will tolerate pairing the words “kids” and “strippers” in the same sentence). You have to individually wrap your shoes in a felt bag or something to separate them.

The women I see who travel professionally all the time have their travel shoes, their day shoes, and their night shoes. And they can work with that in a single bag, even if they have to leave some other things behind (like a husband). Women’s shoes, very complicated.

LS: Men don’t have this problem?

GW: Men’s shoes – very different. I recommend literally one pair of shoes. I recommend slip-ons, because you don’t want to be untying your shoes to go through airport security. I recommend that they be black. I’ll even recommend a brand: Ecco. These shoes are extraordinarily comfortable and very fashionable. They’re not cheap but not terribly expensive – a couple hundred bucks.

The whole idea of “I’ve got my black shoes, my brown shoes, my cordovan shoes” (whatevercordovan means) and then you’ve got to figure out which shoes you wear with which suit… I’m sorry. Too much unnecessary hassle. The average man doesn’t really know what goes with anything until he sees it on the mannequin in the store and thinks “Oh yeah… I knew that,” when really he didn’t! I still remember my dad in a white ’70s jumpsuit with gold trim, looking like he escaped from a dance team, telling me about the basics of men’s business fashion.

Thanks, Dad. But I prefer to keep it simple. To that end, let me restate that black shoes will look good with everything you wear. Black shoes, black socks, black belt – you’re done. That shoe I recommended is comfortable enough for traveling in the airport, easy enough to slip off at the security checkpoints, dressy enough to look good with a suit and versatile enough to go with jeans too.

LS: Do you have to have a backup suit? And can you recycle a suit for a second event? I guess what I’m getting at is this: How many suits are too many?

GW: Most suit carriers can hold two suits, or a suit and a blazer and a second pair of pants. If you have three days of meetings where you have to wear a suit, that can be an issue. There’s some good luggage out there that allows you to carry three suits, but beyond three, it can get a little more difficult. You’re talking about bigger luggage.

As a speaker I’m often going to different cities on consecutive days. I’ll wear the same suit in three cities, three different companies. I’m brand new every day. The suit I wore in Montreal is a brand-new suit to Cleveland. Speaking in three different locations? One suit’s fine as long as you are not seeing the same people. You don’t want to be a one-suit wonder. However, if you have three days of business and two suits, you can bring three very different shirts and ties (pinstripes and/or distinct solid colors) and repeat the first suit on the third day. No one will notice it’s the same if your suits are solid (no pattern) and you take a dark gray suit and a navy or black suit.

OK, ladies, you might now be thinking that men’s suits are more complicated than your shoes. But remember, we are trying to stay within the confines of our luggage, whereas you are trying to decide if you need to take “after-dinner shoes.”

The thing is to be practical. What do you really need? Remember that when you’re traveling somewhere, you will have a finite size of luggage, so the decisions you make are important. It’s really easy to say, “I’ll just take a lot of stuff, and when I get there I’ll decide what to wear.” That might work on a weeklong vacation with a giant piece of luggage that you could carry a spare air conditioner in, but it’s just not practical for business travel.

If I’m going to be in one city for four to five days, I’ll take a bigger piece of luggage called a European traveler. I could actually put a small person and a little piano in that thing if I wanted to, that’s how big it is. That type of luggage is an option if you’ll be gone for a longer period. How much you pack and what size luggage you take is truly a matter of how long you are going to be somewhere.

So, to reiterate what’s most important when you’re packing: good luggage, a tri-fold bag, and some realism regarding how much you really need.

My next segment with professional speaker and seasoned traveler Garrison Wynn focuses on streamlining your TSA experience.

Simple Tips For Business Travel

Business travel has become more and more necessary as the globe becomes a smaller place. Doing business with people from different cities, states, countries and even continents is now a normal occurrence and will continue to be this way moving forward. As a result of this growth in interaction by people of diverse cultures it has become more necessary for more people to travel for business.

Traveling for business however can be a stressful experience as although the business world is based on deadlines and strict schedules traveling does not usually adhere to the same strictness. It is therefore not uncommon to miss or be late for meetings due to delays or other travel related complications. These are the unavoidable circumstances that crop up every now and again; we can however take every precaution to ensure a stress free successful business trip. The following tips could aid every business traveler have a pleasurable travel experience that may enable for positive mindset for negotiations or business dealings overall.

One of the choices business people have to make is whether or not to fly to a particular destination. The aspects to consider when making this decision include cost and fatigue factor. It may be much more economical to drive to a certain location however the time spent as well as the fatigue may end up being more costly in the long run.

If flying is the mode of choice then it is important to weigh the options with regard to price and quality of service. Many business people are quick to choose the smaller cheaper airline not realizing that the low costs come at a cost of worse customer service in case of delays or other problems. Smaller airlines are also less likely to be as professional and on time as the larger airlines due to financial constraints.

Choosing an airline that is reliable and has adequate customer service in case of a problem is essential for the business traveler. If in a job that requires a lot of traveling then it may be advisable to sign up to a frequent flyer program. Joining a frequent flyer program will allow for extra savings and even free trips if the miles add up.

There are a number of ways to pay for tickets however the best is definitely by credit card. Paying by credit card ensures that you are not only protected if anything goes wrong but also leaves a solid paper trail that can be used to solicit compensation from the organization.

Finally there are a number of other items to consider as a business traveler. Preparation for the entire journey should be done extensively to allow for stress free travel. Take into consideration factors such as clothing (carrying an extra suit in hand luggage advisable), provision for security at airports (knowing the rules and procedures in advance helps).

How the Killing of Osama Bin Laden Will Affect Business Travel

Introduction

The death of Osama Bin Laden does not conclude the global threat of terrorism but in many instances it will trigger a new wave or business travel threats. If you want to know more on how the killing of Osama Bin Laden will affect business travel then you need to read this article. This article will identify the major delays, disruptions, risks and threats to business travel as a result of this high profile leader’s death. By the end of the article you will know the key issues affecting business travel as a result and be able to identify the primary areas for travel planning and risk management focus.

Bin Laden’s Death

The death of Osama will no more signal the collapse and conclusion of global terrorist events than if the CEO or chairman of a major multi-national were to die also. Global and local terrorism threats are made up of networks, many redundant and independent of any one single point of leadership. Standing Armies, Air Forces and Navies are also constructed along such lines. Would the death of a General bring an Army to a halt? Not likely. Therefore, while being a major news and emotional event for many it will have little to no effect on the command and control of sympathetic terrorist groups. It will embolden some to act, rally to the cause and even further elevate Bin Laden as an icon for their actions, much the same as Che Guevara has evolved as the face of freedom fighters the world over.

Terrorism

Terrorism remains a minor threat to business travel based on the volume of travel and those affected. The responsibility and duty to combat such a threat still remains within the government realm and not that of corporate entities although they do need to be aware of developments and capabilities for local governments to combat or prevent attacks to ensure their travellers do not become targets or affected. Business travellers will still be more likely to be affected by delays, disruptions and threats from more routine and frequent issues such as motor vehicle accidents, illness, airline disputes and bad weather.

The Real Threat to Business Travel

The real threat to business travellers in the wake of the death of Bin Laden will be the subsequent response by the global aviation security and government intelligence agencies. Most will view this result as a success but also be immediately focused on the potential for reprisal. Many individuals and groups are already in the advanced stages of planned attacks but others may rush to action and attack in support of Al Qaeda or Islamic extremists. Their single-minded attention on these issues will result in greater inconsistencies, delays and threats to business travellers.

Airport Security

Airports will become even more unpredictable as to what and how security measures are implemented and changes are all but guaranteed. These changes will further disrupt the efficiency and flow of check-in, boarding, screening, arrivals and departures. However, the effects and approach will not be universal nor predictable to the average traveller and delays, disruptions and missed flights will results and further impact the effectiveness and efficiency of business travel. Company risk and security managers may also be on a hair-trigger and cease, suspend or defer business travel until they get “more information” on the situation, further compounding the issue. If history is any indication, any minor or major incident in the coming weeks and months will result in knee-jerk security treatment solutions that impact more travellers than it prevents terrorists.

Affected Demographics

Profiling and heightened security measures will be applied to specific ethnic groups, nationalities and those traveling through identified travel corridors. Once again this will be inaccurate, inconsistent and opaque to the majority of travellers who will suffer the wider effects and possibly even personal effects of such changes. Those traveling from the Middle East, of Pakistani ethnicity, Muslims, single males, those with beards, women in burkas, travellers with no check-in luggage, those paying by cash or even those that “act funny” at the airport will all draw the attention of someone who is looking at reasons why someone poses a threat or could jeopardize air safety and security, therefore requires interception.

Conclusion

The world is no safer or riskier than it was the day before Osama Bin Laden was killed. The subsequent actions and reactions following his death however will impact the landscape in which business travellers journey through. Hopefully it will be short-term but should we see the slightest hint of threat or reports from the government agencies then we are all likely to be subjected to greater delay, disruption and risk due to this relatively low level threat. Osama’s death will not signify the end of terrorism, business travellers need to remember there is continued and greater threat from the more routine, airport security will have it’s ups and down in the coming weeks/months and the color of your skin, accent, religion and point of origin will all play a role on how you are viewed by the various security agencies.

While this event should not have had any major impact upon business travel, in reality it will. Now you know what the real threats are, you should prepare yourself and your travellers for the road ahead to ensure they continue to remain productive, efficient and safe during the course of their various business travel demands.