Because they don’t bring in the volume that large businesses do, SMEs are unfairly penalised in their business travel with higher costs for almost everything, from airfare to hotel rooms. Ironically, small companies with travel needs actually send their employees on trips more frequently. One estimate from SAP put SME costs at nearly 20 percent higher. That hardly seems fair, but part of the problem is that small companies usually don’t have travel departments, relying on employees to make their own bookings.
While you’re on the road, ExpenseIn should be your constant companion. Our expense management software makes it so easy – we’ll go so far as to say fun – to track expenses, you’ll want to spend more. (Note to the finance dept.: our policy and approval processes will help you impose prudence.)
It is tempting to assume that searching for your own flights online will be the cheapest route, but outsourcing to an agency might be a better bet. There are some agencies in the UK that offer the same advantages to small businesses as to large ones, so don’t neglect this as an option. CT Business Travel and Travel Management Solutions are two companies that claim to offer corporate services at SME prices.
If outsourcing seems too expensive, you can work directly with some hotel chains to get discounts. The AccorHotel group has a special pricing programme specifically for small businesses, called Away on Business. If there is a chain you prefer, speak to management about whether your company might qualify for stay vouchers or discounts.
For flights, you might need to join a lot of reward programmes depending on your usual destinations, though something like British Airways’ On Business might provide the easiest set of options. Note that you must hold a VAT number in order to enrol, but there is no minimum size for companies.
If your employees travel frequently, it’s worth keeping up on business travel news, as SMEs are starting to get more attention from the sector. Expedia recently launched Expedia+ business to help small companies get flight and hotel discounts, points, and vouchers. It’s currently available only to US–based companies, but you can expect it to widen, so stay alert!