Expert insight

7 simple tips to help reduce travel and meeting costs

10 May 2018

Not everyone is an expert when it comes to booking travel and meetings. Here are some insider top tips.

Before you read our expert tips, have you ever thought about assessing whether travel to a meeting is essential? Consider virtual alternatives, such as Skype, to help to improve productivity, employee work/life balance, and support overall travel cost reductions. (Check out our tips for virtual meetings etiquette.)

So you’ve decided that you do need a face-to-face meeting:

1. Travelling by train? Make sure you specify your outbound time of travel.

Tickets requiring you to travel on a specific train (i.e. advance tickets) will be more cost-effective than ‘anytime’ (open) rail fares.
You should know the start time of a meeting, so it’s relatively simple to fix the outbound time of travel. However, you may not always know what time the meeting will finish. So it’s tempting to book an open return for the trip. Don’t!

If you’re not sure what time you’re coming back, book a single advance ticket for your outbound journey, and a separate, flexible ticket for the return leg. You could save up to 40% on the total journey price.

2. Travelling by train? Rethink your schedule!

Needless to say, peak-time fares are the most expensive. By kicking off a meeting a little later, and avoiding having to travel in peak time, you could save up to 13%. If you can’t move your meeting, consider the time and location. For example, three people travelling to London for a meeting with one other person, doesn’t make the most logistical sense, right? If this is the case, you could arrange the meeting at a location more central to all attendees, helping to save cost and time (oh, and an extra hour in bed).

What are the peak times? These may vary depending on the train operator, but off-peak is generally after 0900 in the morning, and after 1900 in the evening on weekdays. But be warned: operators do occasionally change their off-peak cut-off times.

How do you work around this? Try to adjust your meeting times so that you can benefit from off-peak travel. For example, peak times into London are trains that arrive in London before 10am. So, if you are planning a meeting in London, try to arrange the meeting to start a bit later. If your meeting finishes early and you want to check whether your ticket is valid on a different train, you could use our iris:go travel app – linked to the National Rail database – to find out.

3. Business trips are often last minute, but if you can, book UK domestic flights and European flights six to four weeks in advance

42% of all UK flights are booked within one week of departure, while 24% are booked two weeks before. But the cheapest UK domestic air fares can be found between six and four weeks in advance of travelling – before steadily increasing the closer to the departure date. UK domestic flights booked six weeks in advance are on average 55% cheaper than when booked within one week, while those booked five weeks before departure are on average 52% cheaper.

Like UK domestic flights, lower fares for European flights can be secured between six and four weeks prior to departure. European flights booked six weeks in advance are on average 59% cheaper than when booked one week before, while those booked five weeks before departure are on average 56% cheaper.

4. Be flexible with dates when booking a venue

You could save, on average, 22% on both meetings and travel costs if you book during quieter periods. Venues can often be cheaper on Mondays, Fridays and during bank holiday weeks.

5. Factor in your accommodation needs up front

If the majority of your meeting delegates need a room for the night, a 24-hour rate at a venue might be more cost-effective than booking a meeting room and bedrooms separately.

6. Book hotels in advance

Where possible, booking early means you can take advantage of better rates and availability. The same goes for your company’s preferred hotels, or when booking in new locations. Often when a hotel reaches 75% occupancy, they review their BAR rates (Best Available Rates), meaning that typically, the closer you book to your date of stay, the more you pay.

And popular hotels are likely to fill up fast, so booking early means you are more likely to get your preferred hotel.

7. Company preferred rates

We can help you better monitor your top locations and preferred hotels! By combining your accommodation requirements into specific properties using our expertise, deals can be often used to offer better value for money, savings and other incentives.

Looking at our top 20 locations, customers with managed hotel programmes can achieve an overall average room rate of up to 20% less than those without one. So if your company has corporate rates on your chosen location, these should be used as much as possible. It will also maximise future potential negotiations with the hotels.

The great thing about being experts is that we can help manage all of this for you. Call Capita Travel and Events today.

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Interested? Let’s have a chat about your company’s travel, meetings and events objectives - from the stuff that keeps you awake at night, to the everyday experiences of your employees! Call us on 0330 390 0340, or submit the details below, with an idea of the times that suit you for a call.