At this point we’ve all went to price out an upcoming trip only to find the number on the screen is a lot bigger than we were expecting. You might be thinking: “But my trip last year was half the price!” or “I’ve stayed at that hotel dozens of times, it’s never cost that much.”
While there are many complex reasons why the cost of nearly everything is increasing, there are a few specific to travel that are worth understanding and how they affect your bottom dollar.
This comes as no surprise to us since the value of fuel affects most aspects of our lives. Just like the prices at the grocery store increase due to higher costs for freighting, the same applies to travel.
Concerning flights specifically, the price of jet fuel has already increased about 50% this year which is the highest we’ve seen in over a decade. Analysts have predicted a 4 month delay for fares to catch up to these rising costs. With that in mind we can likely expect to see prices continue climbing through the first half of 2022.
After many long months of lockdowns and tight restrictions, it’s safe to say the majority of us want to get the heck out of the house and see more than just the view from our living room. Whether it’s visiting family out on the coast or finally booking that dream trip to Spain, people are going places this year.
Up to 70% of leisure travellers across the globe have stated they are willing to spend more on their vacations this year, this will in turn affect those who need to travel for work. The age old balance of supply and demand will come into play heavily here.
If you or your employees frequent those “middle of nowhere”, rural destinations then you will likely continue to see higher fares. Not so much due to leisure travellers but rather as a result of route suspensions not yet being lifted. In fact, further schedule adjustments were just announced at the end of December, so that, coupled with increased fuel pricing, will mean more stopovers in addition to higher ticket costs.
Those looking to return to international business travel, though, will be eager to see many airlines now reinstating previously suspended routes.
Every area of the travel industry was seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With seemingly the worst of it behind us, everyone is looking to move back into the green.
Along with the above factors, this too will shape pricing for most travel related products. Nightly hotel rates, for example, are forecasted to continue climbing up roughly 23% through to the end of 2023. The industry expects hotel increases to somewhat lead the charge as they look to regain lost revenues.
While ground transportation costs, such as rental vehicles, are predicted to only rise by about 7% through 2023 there is still the challenge with limited supply of new vehicles.
With these factors in mind, you’re now likely thinking “how can I mitigate the increased cost of travel for our company?”
Our team at Elite has a few suggestions to get you started.
We understand business travel is never set in stone, but since the industry is forecasting costs to continue rising through the year, you’re more likely to capture lower pricing the further out you book. In general, as well, prices rise the closer you get to your travel dates.
We always recommend booking options with greater flexibility so if you do need to adjust, it comes with a smaller price tag.
Just like with your personal budget, if you only allot $100 a month for your groceries but are actually paying $400, you’re going to feel as though you’re falling behind.
Now that we are nearing the end of Q1 in 2022, it is a great time to revisit your quarterly or annual budget for employee travel to ensure you’re accurately in line with the current climate.
Whether you halted exploring this service through the pandemic or haven’t thought of it before, now is the perfect time to begin.
With greater access to airline contracts, increased buying power with hotel properties and unmatched rental supplier relationships, Elite Travel Management will bring great value to your travel program. Regular reporting for increased visibility and implementing unique cost saving strategies is just the beginning.
While no one can really say when travel prices will actually begin to level out, realistically there will always be something happening in the world that has an affect – that’s just the way it is. But what we can do is prepare.
Do you have questions? Maybe you’re eager to get started. Let’s chat!
Over the past two years nearly everyone has had some sort of plan affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions have come and gone and then returned again, leaving us all uncertain of when we should look at rescheduling our delayed travels.
In general, airline credits expire 1 year from the date of purchase – not when you cancel. Airlines recognized early on that there wasn’t a definite timeline on when we would all be in the air again. Due to this, many of them gave an automatic extension for all purchases affected by the pandemic.
Now, though, we are nearing the end of those extensions and many of us are left with the question: what do I do now?
My credit was extended before the COVID-19 pandemic, but I still can’t travel – now what?
If your credit is nearing expiration and you still can’t travel, then there are two options we would suggest to you.
Can I refund my credit?
The initial response to this question is it depends on the fare class booked. Higher fare classes generally come with greater flexibility, such as Latitude on Air Canada which is fully refundable. Whereas Standard fares are more restrictive in that they are non-refundable and have a higher change fee attached.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic there have been a large number of asterisks attached to each booking. Airlines have come out stating if you purchased your ticket between certain dates, it could be refundable. Most airlines have these details outlined on their website now for quick reference.
As a general rule of thumb, if the airline has cancelled your flight, your eligibility for a refund is higher.
Can I transfer my credit to someone else?
Transferring your credit to another person is a great way to ensure your credit doesn’t go to waste should you be unable to use it prior to expiration.
Certain airlines are more flexible than others when it comes to flights within Canada and the US.
Canadian carriers provide this option to their customers who purchase a Standard fare or higher. Tickets with American carriers, however, come with greater restriction as they are non-transferrable. Though if you have purchased a high enough fare class you could be eligible for a refund.
When considering international travel, it again will depend on a multitude of factors – such as if your flights are all on one ticket, your destination country, fare class, etc.
Can I refund the credit back to our company?
Applicable credits can only be refunded back to the original form of payment. So, if your company purchases all employee flights on the corporate credit card then you would be able to have the fare refunded back to the company.
Though if the credit is not eligible for a refund, it cannot be transferred back to the company but rather only stay in the traveller’s name or, if applicable, be transferred to another employee.
Can I use my large credit on several different flights?
In short, no. While it would be great to divide your credit and apply it to three individual short haul flights, airlines treat their credits as a “one time use”.
When you have a larger credit on your hands this is where we suggest you do a bit of forecasting; “Will this trip be rescheduled so I can use the credit? “, “What type of travel is on the horizon for me?”.
If travel simply won’t be in the cards for you before the expiration date, this is when we would begin looking at the transferability to a colleague or other traveller.
When all else fails, always consult an expert!
Will airlines extend my travel credit again?
At this time, we don’t foresee any further extensions to travel credits due to most countries opening their borders again and travel ramping back up.
For many, managing airline credits can feel cumbersome and likely overwhelming.
At Elite Travel, airline credit management is built into your program, and we are committed to 100% airline usage, wherever possible. So, you can feel confident in knowing an expert is keeping track of your investment.
Do you have a question about your current credits? Let us help!
Managing a corporate travel program on your own can be a costly endeavour, both in time and money. From reconciling various receipts or folios, to keeping track of those booking outside of your travel policy, we can understand why you’d want more time for the other tasks on your plate. As the saying goes: Work smarter, not harder!
If you’re reading this, it’s safe to say that you’re curious about consolidating your travel to one central place. After a few internet searches, you might also be asking yourself “How do we incorporate an online booking tool for our company?”
The benefits of an Online Booking Tool (often referred to as an OBT)
Facilitates simple itineraries
Does your company travel point-to-point? Primarily domestic and/or transborder? If so, an Online Booking Tool could be a great fit as this technology works optimally with what we would consider simple travel.
To go one step further, Elite Travel Management programs your preferred airlines and fare into the Online Booking Tool’s portal. This means that when your team is booking their flights, only routes that meet those requirements will appear. It also removes the need for things like following up with Jane on why she booked a Business Class ticket with ABC Airline.
Provides booking flexibility
Do you have one or multiple individuals who currently book travel on behalf of your employees? Maybe everyone books their own travel as necessary. In both cases, an Online Booking Tool will complement your current processes nicely by continuing to give your staff a direct hand in reserving their travel.
We understand that many industries require travel plans to be made outside of the regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. window. An Online Booking Tool solution allows for trips to be booked 24/7 with no additional costs when reserving after-hours via app or desktop.
Allows streamlined approval
Many organizations work into their travel policies that employees require manager approval for all trips. Often, this can result in emails lost in the shuffle or delayed responses, which leaves the manager asking, “Who sent Jane to Singapore?”
This painstaking process can be eliminated with the use of an Online Booking Tool. The platform automatically sends an approval request to the appropriate manager when an employee submits a tentative booking. Before this reservation can be completed, the designated approver must sign off. No more accidental trips to Southeast Asia for Jane!
The benefits of agent assisted offline bookings
Facilitates complex itineraries
A complex itinerary constitutes anything that includes an international segment, multiple connections, or the changing of carriers. All of these factors amount to a more involved booking process, which can be simplified with a call or email to one of Elite’s Travel Associates.
From the benefits of using creative ticketing techniques that lower the overall ticket cost and processing exchanges, to assessing international cancellation penalties and restrictions, leaning on a expert is worthwhile!
Allows for VIP/high touch travel
Your CEO can only travel to Boston if they can be booked in a waterfront, King Suite at the Boston Harbor Hotel. When you click to reserve, it says they no longer have any rooms available for Friday. What do you do now?
Special requests such as the one above is where our Travel Associates truly shine. With a reservation system that is loaded with thousands of industry-negotiated rates and numerous brand-specific connections, a roadblock such as a sold-out hotel can be navigated rather swiftly. The same can be said for all other corners of the travel industry, whether it is a certain seat on a flight to Tokyo or car service in Austin, TX. The knowledge and human connection of an experienced Travel Associate simply cannot be beat!
Simplifies rotational travel
Coordinating travel to a destination for 10 people can sometimes be a challenge, but what about 50-100 people who are on a constant work rotation? To even the most seasoned travel coordinator this can increase stress levels. Enter your trusted Travel Management Company.
The resources we have at our fingertips can take any mountain and make it into a mole hill! We have a direct connection to the inventory of every airline – even those that are region specific. So, you don’t have to worry about booking the first 15 members of your crew just to discover the rest of the flight is sold out. Elite’s Travel Associate will be able to proactively monitor the number of seats left on an aircraft and adjust where necessary!
While getting there can be half the battle, you also must consider staying there. Having a Travel Associate negotiate your group booking rates and organize payment prior to employees arriving will not only save you money, but countless hours in your day!
Our number one recommendation?
Get the best of both worlds, customized to your needs.
Empower yourself with the combination of an effective Online Booking Tool and a trusted Travel Associate. While this will (and should) look different from one company to the next based on unique needs, it ultimately equips you to handle any type of travel requirement and scenario – at any time.
We at Elite Travel Management understand that no two travel programs are alike, and we develop solutions on an individual basis. Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource.
Evaluating company RFPs to explore or select a new Travel Management Company (TMC) can be a very intensive and expensive process. In many cases, an organization with a preferred partner will do so to determine who else is out there and if they’re getting the best bang for their buck. But is it worthwhile?
We’re here to identify the pros and cons of conducting an RFP related to your company travel program and when it’s truly worthwhile.
Does our company travel spend warrant an RFP?
In most cases, TMCs will not consider a formal RFP unless the entire travel spend exceeds $2 million annually. A TMC evaluates spend based on total airline, hotel, and car rentals your company books.
Who will our RFP attract?
A travel RFP that is posted on sites such as MERX and Purchasing Connection will attract any agency set to receive a notification if they key word “travel” is triggered. In many travel RFPs, we see more than twenty companies bid, whereas in the corporate travel industry there are 4-5 main players.
Why might a TMC choose not to bid on our business?
Like all companies, corporate travel providers consider a bid or no-bid process. Just like the time and resources that go into a bid process to create and evaluate an RFP, a significant amount of resources go into a quality travel RFP from the TMC. A TMC may consider some of the following questions before determining if they want to bid on your travel business:
ELITE INSIGHT: A TMC is accustomed to hearing questions about fees first. Industry insiders involved in corporate travel know that fees are not the real areas to save money.
THE 4 PROS OF RFPS:
THE 4 CONS OF RFPS:
A final word on RFPs:
In our experience, the most proven process when evaluating a TMC includes…
Remember: Not all corporate travel programs are the same. Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource.
Do we really need to spend this much on travel? You’re not alone in wondering. Oftentimes, business travel is one of the top three line items against a company’s bottom line, so it’s a valid area to focus on. Why has your company not looked at your $200,000, $500,000 or $5,000,000 corporate travel program and evaluated to reach better savings? Why is there an approval process to purchase a new office desk, but a $2,000 company business trip can take place based on the preferences of a single employee? It’s likely that similar questions have led you to this article.
With many different suppliers involved with your company travel program, like airlines, hotels, car rentals, AirBnB and car services (just to name a few), determining where to begin can be a daunting task.
So, what can you realistically save on?
First thing’s first: Defining savings isn’t as clear cut as it may seem. Many individuals will immediately focus on hard dollar savings solutions. For example: “How much can we save on a hotel room?” or, “what discount will we receive on a flight”? And hey – those are very valid questions. We’ll break them down a little later, but let’s start with the areas of focus that will lead you to surefire success. We’ve even ranked them in order of % of savings opportunities:
1. Uncover and intervene on traveller behaviour
Understanding the patterns and approval process used by your employees will help you pick up on some travellers booking whatever they want, and others spending money as though it’s their own. Our number one savings tip is to implement (or review) a company travel policy that outlines guidelines for booking travel. From there, ask your Travel Management Company to report back on who’s booking outside of the policy, and why. Often, when travellers encounter new travel policies or are required to state why they have booked outside of policy (through automation), it prevents them from booking more expensive suppliers. When paired with the right tools, this understanding of traveller behaviour unlocks the number one savings opportunity for your business.
2. Consolidate your internal resources
Travel is a complex area of your organization as you do a lot of it. We’re here to save your company money, and internal resources dedicated to travel is often one of the major costs. Time is money! On top of your company’s corporate travel line item are all the wages that go towards supporting it. When adding up the salaries of all those who book travel, negotiate corporate rates, chase up hotel invoices, reconcile statements and more, it becomes clear how many internal departments are a part of your company travel program.
How about travellers who book their own trips? Did you know the average traveller spends 2.5 to 3 hours researching and booking company travel? At their hourly rate, it’s easy to do the math and realize this soft dollar savings quickly amounts to real money.
We’re not saying to remove any jobs here! Our suggestion is simple: Consolidate all duties to one internal employee at your company who works with one Travel Management Company. When we get to Travel Management providers and the anticipated fees, you will see the savings are undeniable.
3. Take full advantage of your company’s airline credits
How much does your company spend on airline travel? Of that, how much is lost each year in expired airline credits? On average, companies that do not monitor airline credits lose 15% annually of their total air travel spend. When airline credit is available, is it being used to its maximum value? What happens when an employee leaves the company with a long list of unused airline credits?
Let’s be honest: The airlines will not be calling you anytime soon to make you aware of a credit that is about to expire. To make the most of your company’s airline credits, implement a program that proactively advises each traveller on available flight credits along with a company-wide monthly credit report.
4. Use a trusted expert to rise above corporate rate myths
Are you surprised it’s taken this long to bring up corporate rates? It’s true: The most common misconception in corporate travel is to start with corporate air, hotel and car rental rate programs.
Use an expert in corporate rate negotiations. You likely have an IT department or a service provider that specializes in IT. The same goes for HR, finance and sales. So, why put corporate rate negotiations in the hands of someone who doesn’t live and breathe business travel?
If you currently work with a Travel Management Company, are they negotiating the best possible rates? Even when using an expert, ensure it’s a brand and team you trust. If you already question whether your existing corporate rates are truly the best available to your organization, you’re likely on to something.
Did you know the best possible corporate rates are based on your individual company travel spend, and not from what a Travel Management Company may sell to you as “exclusive” savings? The fact is, suppliers that work with one Travel Management Company want to work with ALL of them! Don’t be fooled by “global airline rates” and “tens of thousands of hotel property discounts.” For the best possible savings, work with a Travel Management Company you know and trust to follow through on rate negotiations.
To get even more specific:
Airlines: Choose one preferred airline, and aim to shift market share to that one provider. Airlines often provide increased corporate rates based on % of market share increase, rather than airline revenue commitments alone.
Hotels: Involve a Travel Management Company early in the process when negotiating hotel rates. By using the expertise of a third party, they will operate in the best interest of your company. With many properties, your Travel Management Company can benchmark based on other client rates earned for similar spend. Hotels may ask you to contact them directly to avoid owing commission to a Travel Management Company. However, that is a step in the process you are looking to get rid of!
5. Ask your expert for proof of savings
A supplier or Travel Management Company will commit to (for example) 2%, 5% or 15% of savings – the numbers will vary. Ask your provider to clearly prove these savings after the first six months of working together. As the client, you deserve proof of walking-the-talk when it comes to your bottom dollar.
6. Understand the realities of Travel Management Company service fees
Organizations often focus on a Travel Management Company’s booking or service fee first. We’re here to de-myth service fees:
Service fees: Service fees will typically equate to no more than 2% to 3% of your company travel spend. On a $1,000,000 travel spend, that’s less than $30,000 per year.
Hidden fees: Are there hidden fees? Not all, but some Travel Management Companies and Travel Agents will mark up your travel and offer less in fees. Do your research!
Low fees: Much like vehicle makes and models, not all Travel Management Companies are created equal. Low fees could indicate that your provider does not have staff to be available when you need support most. As the old line goes: You get what you pay for. This is especially relevant in corporate travel.
There are many moving parts to driving down your company’s travel spend. At Elite Travel Management, we’re experienced in doing just that – with commitment to business with integrity every step of the way. Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource.
Now more than ever, business travellers will depend on their employer to determine when and if it is safe to travel. Employers have a significant level of responsibility to ensure the well being of their travellers before, during, and after business trips. With the COVID-19 pandemic, your organization’s Duty of Care due-diligence is under the microscope.
1. Always know where your travellers are
It’s time to take the Duty of Care component as a necessary step in your company travel program. So, how do you go about protecting your travellers and organization through Duty of Care?
Companies who do not yet use a Travel Management Company (TMC) – and even some who do – are unable to locate their travellers in the midst of a major event. This could include new pandemic restrictions, an act of terror or a natural disaster – just to name a few. Elite Travel Management provides peace of mind by consolidating all of your organization’s travel to one central reporting system that locates your travellers in real-time, at all times.
2. Empower your travellers with education
With endless online availability of articles and resources on travel and trip preparation, it’s important that business travellers have one central, consistent and trusted resource to turn to. From vaccine requirements, to locally vetted in-destination hospitals, traveller education is a checkmark every organization should complete.
3. Remember that business travel is truly 24/7
Even if typical office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your region, you might have employees in-destination at all hours of the day. With all that can go wrong when travelling for business, employees feel empowered when a TMC is in place to ensure that regardless of the hour, someone is available to help immediately.
ELITE INSIGHT: Ask your TMC to confirm response times after hours. The last thing a traveller wants to do is wait on hold for hours at 2 a.m. in the midst of a stressful situation or last-minute change.
4. Don’t underestimate the importance of travel insurance
“I have travel insurance on my credit card and our company has a blanket travel insurance policy for travel.” Sound familiar? You may think you have an adequate business travel insurance program in place, but do you want to wait until travel insurance is needed to determine what it really covers? It’s important to consult with your TMC and determine if enhanced insurance should be purchased. It’s an investment you won’t know the true worth of until it’s needed!
5. Establish a process for all travel approvals
Wait a minute – Bill is overseas right now? Who approved this? If this also sounds familiar, it could be time to implement a travel approval process to ensure that all travel is approved by the appropriate stakeholder(s). Your TMC may even be able to offer an automated approval system that documents reason-for-trip and who approved it!
ELITE INSIGHT: Implement no more than one level of approval with your company’s online travel tool. A multi approval level has appeal, but by the time several people have approved a trip, it could be days later!
6. Recognize that individual travellers have individual needs
Business travel is a breeze to some and more worrisome for others. It’s important to ensure that those who represent your company worldwide feel safe at all times through Duty of Care. For example, Duty of Care programs can provide guidance on accessing an in-destination pharmacy in the event an employee’s necessary drug is lost, stolen or forgotten. How about local LGBTQ+ guidelines? Recommendations for transport from meeting to meeting? What in-destination areas are more susceptible to crime than others?
ELITE INSIGHT: We advise you consider this section in further detail based on where your company is required to travel for business.
7. Implement a traveller waiver
“I feel comfortable travelling for business,” is different than, “I acknowledge in writing the risks associated with travelling for business at this time, including but not limited to COVID-19.”
In a world where paper trails can make all the difference, it’s time to consider a waiver for your business to ensure travellers have accepted the associated risks when travelling. These waivers can be built on a per trip basis, through automation.
ELITE INSIGHT: Like any formal document, we suggest running this one by your legal council or seek third party advice before implementing. Ask us for a template to get you started: email@example.com
8. Be aware that not all Duty of Care programs are created equal!
Saying you have a Duty of Care program in place is like saying “I drive a vehicle.” Is it a car or SUV? Is it a two seater or a seven seater? Does it have airbags? What’s the safety record? Is it a Ford or an Audi?
The point here is that you can pick a low-priced or “free” Duty of Care program, but nonetheless it’s important to know what it truly covers. Like travel insurance, Duty of Care often comes into play when you need it most – and that’s not when you want to find out the vehicle you drive is a dud.
ELITE INSIGHT: Consult with your TMC about the “included” Duty of Care programs they provide, and ask for their advice on the enhancements your company should consider adding on. In many cases, the Duty of Care program is separate from your TMC, but the TMC should be able to confirm who is the Lamborghini.
We are here for you every step, drive, train, or flight of the way. Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource. We use our global reach to find answers to your questions as soon as possible.