Experts share strategies on how to cut business travel costs

One of the most effective ways to cut costs is airfare re-shopping, say experts. Picture: Supplied

One of the most effective ways to cut costs is airfare re-shopping, say experts. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 5, 2024


According to the Q1 2024 Trend Report from FCM Consulting, there has been an increase in hotel rates in Cape Town, Lagos and Dubai, compared to Q1 2023, signalling that major business hubs are yet to deter business travel.

The report also highlighted that January saw a rise in the average paid ticket price in economy class by 11% and business class by 12%, compared to the same period in 2019.

Though these circumstances do present challenges, savvy business travellers are finding innovative ways to cut costs and one of the most impactful strategies is airfare re-shopping, which involves automatically rebooking flights at lower prices when they become available.

FCM GM Bonnie Smith said that this proactive approach ensures that companies aren’t overpaying for airfares.

“Airfare re-shopping, although not new, has become a game changer in this economically difficult climate. With technology constantly monitoring fare changes, you can save significantly without the hassle of manual tracking,” said Smith.

The business travel expert said the benefits go beyond savings and that knowing you’re always paying the lowest fare provides peace of mind as you can allocate travel budgets more effectively when you’re not overspending on airfares.

So here are some strategies from business travel experts on how business travellers can avoid overspending.

Longer stays, bigger pay-offs

According to FCM business travel experts, cost-saving measures don’t stop at airfares.

The company highlighted that a new trend towards extended hotel stays is helping companies maximise productivity and consolidate travel costs.

“Negotiating corporate rates can slash hotel costs by up to 35.1%, according to FCM data, making it a vital strategy for businesses with consistent travel patterns,” said the business travel experts.

The Q1 2024 Quarterly Trend Report showed that the average hotel stay increased to 4.4 nights, up 0.3% compared to Q1 2023.

This shift reflects a strategic approach by companies to enhance return on investment by consolidating meetings into longer trips to accommodate more meetings, increasing productivity and reducing the annual business travel tab.

Travel experts at FCM noted that even for shorter domestic trips, travellers often add a few extra weekend nights to maximise their experience. Extending a stay can also unlock additional savings beyond airfare consolidation.

Judy Jacobs, Senior Account Manager at FCM, said that the longer you rent a car, the cheaper the daily rate becomes as adding those extra days can provide significant savings.

Expert guidance for optimising travel spend

Jonathan Scott, Senior Account Manager at FCM, said negotiating the best corporate rates for extended stays is crucial, and he also emphasised the importance of partnering with an experienced travel management company (TMC) with extensive hotel programme negotiating expertise and data analytics capabilities.

“We leverage our clients’ total volumes globally to secure the best deals. Even if a company’s travel footprint in one city is modest, by pooling their nights across all markets, we can secure preferred rates they couldn’t get on their own,” said Scott.

Maximising every rand

In conclusion, Smith said that while tactics like airfare re-shopping and negotiating hotel rates have been options for years, their widespread adoption illustrates how businesses are sharpening their focus on travel spending.

“Every company should analyse their hotel and airfare data to identify savings opportunities. If you have consistent travel patterns but aren’t capturing negotiated rates or re-shopping airfares, you’re leaving money on the table.

“Tight budgets and cost scrutiny make it essential to maximise every rand,” said Smith.