The top cost-saving tactics used by our savvy business travellers are revealed

business traveller hotel check in

Booking more than two weeks ahead, asking for last room availability, and selecting fares that offer like-for-like credit options with cancellations are just a few of the top hacks that enabled the savviest businesses to shave hundreds of thousands of dollars off their travel expenses last year.

We lifted the lid on the best travel tactics that helped some of our most strategic business customers save more than 30 per cent on corporate travel over 2023. With a recent survey indicating that 91 per cent of SMEs plan to continue travelling despite economic pressures this year[1], Tom Walley, Global Managing Director at Corporate Traveller, suggests that these tips could potentially put thousands back into the company coffers.

Tom shared: “Simple but effective hacks, such as booking airfares a month out from the travel date, can alone save a company up to $200 on a single one-way domestic ticket. Given the 28.7 per cent increase in ‘revenue passenger kilometres’ to 67.6 billion last year within Australia[1], we know Aussies are spending more and more on travel.”

We reveal the top seven cost-saving travel hacks from our savviest customers:

1. Ditch the myth of last-minute travel deals

Ensure you book flights more than two weeks from the travel date.

Last-minute travel deals are a myth, says Tom. The cheapest airfares are typically available at least two weeks out from the travel date, with booking as soon as six months in advance yielding the most significant savings. Organisational skills are key when it comes to nabbing the cheapest deals.

Tom emphasises: “Last year, one of our clients aimed to improve their annual advance purchase by 20 per cent by simply shifting 33 per cent of their bookings from within two weeks to at least four weeks in advance. This simple change resulted in an average trip cost reduction of $137 per booking, totaling savings of $120,000 over 800 bookings.”

Airlines offer their cheapest rates more than 14 days out, as their algorithms work based on seat availability. Savvy clients frequently book on the quarter or half hour for cheaper fares.

Tom advises: “Remember that many travel hacks that worked years ago have changed. Tracking flight prices, booking in advance, and being flexible with meeting times are more likely to yield savings."

“As is the nature of business travel, advance organisation of meetings and events is not always as easy as it may sound. Travel Management Companies exist to help corporate travellers secure the best deal for those unavoidable last-minute travel scenarios.


2. Maximise travel value adds by signing up for travel programs

In addition to using a travel management partner like Corporate Traveller to secure competitive rates, Tom says many of their business customers benefit from travel programs. For example, the SmartStay program offers exclusive hotel deals with add-ons such as free breakfast, late checkout, and upgrades.

Tom mentions: “Travel management companies can secure better deals because of their buying power and strong relationships with suppliers. Clients who subscribe to hotel or airline newsletters have also accessed special coupons and offers."


3. Book a flight with favourable terms and conditions for changes, credits or cancellations

Not all airline terms and conditions were created equal, Tom added. Purchasing a flight with flexible terms, allowing full credit for the same economy flight type, can save thousands when corporate travel plans change. Always check the fare's terms and conditions, as flexible economy tickets may have restrictions.

Tom advises, "Some flight credits only allow you to purchase a flex fare, resulting in paying hundreds of dollars more. Others impose hefty fees for changing flight dates. Our smartest customers choose flights with good credit and refund policies."


4. Encourage a carry-on luggage culture

For domestic travel, encouraging staff to travel with carry-on luggage for short trips can lead to significant annual savings. Educating travellers about efficient packing can result in savings of up to $90 per airfare.

By taking travel-sized toiletries, separating electronic devices and carrying your laptop separately, the carry-on luggage limits tend to be sufficient for two-to-four-day trips. 

business traveller at airport
“Last year, one of our clients aimed to improve their annual advance purchase by 20 per cent by simply shifting 33 per cent of their bookings from within two weeks to at least four weeks in advance. This simple change resulted in an average trip cost reduction of $137 per booking, totaling savings of $120,000 over 800 bookings.” 

Tom Walley, Global Managing Director at Corporate Traveller

5. Always ask for last room availability

Hotel rates vary based on the time of year and city events. By utilising ‘last room availability’ ensures budget-conscious customers a guaranteed contracted rate at their partner hotels. This contract secures a set price, regardless of room availability or event-related price inflation.


6. Package your flight, hotel and airport pick-up and drop-off service

Some business travellers mistakenly book each component separately in hopes of a better deal, but bundling the trip usually results in the same cost. This approach saves time and reduces the likelihood of errors for busy business travellers.

Tom explains, "Our top customers understand that time is money, and bundled deals with airport transport make the booking and travel process seamless."


7. Select hotels in close proximity to the CBD, transport and meetings

Businesses that booked hotels within walking distance of major amenities and meeting locations achieved significant savings by reducing rideshares and restaurant expenses. Booking a hotel in the city centre provides corporate travellers with more dining options and less reliance on rental cars or taxis.

Tom points out, "With Australians projected to spend a record $1.77 billion USD on ride-hailing apps this year[3], our savviest customers realise a well-located hotel can result in major annual savings.”

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