This article was published on January 25, 2016

6 tips for reducing business travel costs

6 tips for reducing business travel costs
Mackensie Graham
Story by

Mackensie Graham

No one said international business dealings were easy.

There are long travel days in the company car, presentation prep while waiting in the airport terminal and sleeping in foreign hotel rooms on top of the day-to-day business operations of emails, meetings and deadlines.

There are definite benefits to international business, including a larger potential profit margin and enhanced innovation.

However, it can also be much more costly than domestic or local business – there’s always room to cut and keep costs down.

Whether you’re an independent operator traversing continents or managing a global enterprise of a multitude of agents, these are the resources you’ll need to keep your employees happy and your overhead low.

Get around with CityMapper

While renting a car may seem more convenient, it’s certainly going to be more costly when you add up rental fees, parking and insurance.

In almost all major cities there is sound public transportation. Why drive around the central city for 20 minutes searching for a parking spot, wasting fuel and time, when you can take the bus (or subway, train, tube, underground… whatever the locals call it) and travel from hotel to office in half that time?

public trans
Intimidated? Don’t be.

CityMapper is an excellent tool for the public transportation adventurer, offering public transport guides in a clear, concise fashion. (Read: easier than Apple Maps or Google Maps.)

You’ll know precisely what train to catch and where to switch lines with the ease of a local. CityMapper currently has real-time, extensive maps that update every minute for 29 major cities with more on the way.

Go further with GateGuru

Airports can be blackholes for unexpected additional expenses. You miss the flight, go to the wrong gate, have to end up checking what you thought would pass as a carry-on.

GateGuru, recently acquired by TripAdvisor, works to make your arrival and departure flights that much easier. By being prepared, you and your business can avoid unnecessary extra charges and are more likely to stay on budget.

There’s the JourneyCard screen that features your detailed flight itinerary including security wait times, delays and layover adjustments.

Use GateGuru as the encyclopedia for over 200 airports around the world featuring up-to-date location and rating information on amenities (think eateries, shops, services).

Need a rental car? The app offers an exclusive partnership with Avis offering users a discount up to 35 percent compared to other travel sites or apps you could book through. Plus, you can do it all from the convenience of a finger tap.

Smart spending with XE Currency

It would be wonderful, or at least convenient, if the entire world used one form of currency. But it’s not that easy and as you make deals in this country and take a meeting in that country, you’ll need to be aware of the current currency exchange rates.

A quick business lunch for £15 doesn’t seem so bad, but then you realize that was more than €19, and more than $21.

XE Currency is simple in purpose — to offer live exchange rate information as well as historical charts.

Stuck overseas without a consistent WiFi connection? The last updated rates are saved so you can reference as needed.

Knowledge of exchange rates is important when charging your card as well, knowing that the amount on the receipt is going to look different than the figure on the expense report back home. XE Currency is a tool for traveling mindfully about money.

Save big with KnowRoaming

If you’re traveling overseas yourself or managing a team on the go, the last thing you want are major data and long-distance bills to pay when everyone returns home.

With KnowRoaming you’re able to keep the team on-budget – saving you up to 85 percent compared to your home carrier rates.

The key to this must-have resource is the magic little Global SIM Sticker that connects to local cell networks abroad – in more than 200 countries. Applied once to whatever phone your team members already use, the sticker automatically activates when you cross borders and becomes dormant upon your return.

This solution is designed to work on current phones used by business travelers – on most Android phones and tablets, iPhones and iPads, and Windows Mobile devices.

It’s easy from a management perspective. You’ll have full view of your employees’ usage, including which account went over budget and which needs a modified plan. Account admins have full control over both pre-paid and postpaid account balances, though actual calling and viewing history are kept private. Even your IT department will be relieved to manage all traveling devices from this one cloud-based mobile management portal.

Another benefit is that KnowRoaming offers simple calling solutions. Avoid carrying two phones, additional SIMs or calling cards and have calls forwarded to you from your home number. You can also buy numbers in over 60 countries, so you can stay local for your international contacts when you’re in their country, and still be reached by them even when back at home

Organize with Expensify

Of course your company isn’t going to send the VP on international business without compensating the majority, if not all, of the expenses.

But there’s nothing worse than a pile of crumpled receipts deposited upon return with all parties involved attempting to figure out the reimbursement rate.

Even if you own your own business, you’ll want to have your receipts nicely organized when tax season rolls around. (It’s amazing the expenses you can write-off if you only have the documentation to prove it!)

After the first trip you take with an Expensify account, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without.

Expensify’s bread and butter is the ability for users to efficiently add cash and automatically import card transactions. Miles traveled, time and other billable line items are super easy to add to a report. Plus, the app is entirely customizable by setting up your own coding system for accounts and clients or specific projects.

Whomever is approving the team’s expense reports will spend not a minute more than needed processing hundreds of reports from a single dashboard. And reimbursements can be completed through direct deposit, PayPal or payroll.

Best of all, the rules are sure to be followed after the approval workflow is set to your company’s standards. And lest we forget the digital full audit trail just in case there are any questions about who owes whom what.

Reward through RocketTrip

There’s often a slight tug of war when it comes to planning travel budgets. No two trips are alike, but the lowest cost possible is best in the long haul.

RocketTrip swoops into the trip planning mix with a genius idea: Incentivize employees for saving money while traveling for business.

By creating an algorithm that takes real-time variables of your travel policy, market price and trip logistics. If employees beat the budget estimated out for the trip, they earn rewards in the form of half of the savings generated… which is basically the best win-win we’ve heard all day

Employees are given tips to lower the cost of their trip including booking a flight early, shifting the logistics of the flight from major hub to a more regional airport and being flexible on times to fly.

Staying with friends or colleagues could cut down on the hotel costs and stopping by the grocery store for a few essentials will save on eating out every meal.

For company execs, RocketTrip proves its value through a hearty delivery of savings versus spending analytics. A leaderboard ranks top travelers who save to incite a bit of healthy competition.

Get going already

International business travel doesn’t have to be a hassle. These tech tools are easy to implement and can definitely help you cut overhead. So find what works for you and your team, then watch the savings add up.

Read next: Meet Hyper, an actually helpful smart travel assistant

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