As your business evolves, your partnerships and clients will likely evolve with it. Once the business has grown enough to gain international clients, you may soon be sending employees on overseas business trips to meet with clients. If you’re worried about fitting international travel into the company’s budget, fear not — there are ways to save money.
Choose Affordable Transportation
Most countries have pretty extensive transportation systems, so it’s easy to find affordable travel options for employees. Investigate ways to get around the area — bus, subway or even walking are always less expensive than taking a taxi — and send employees a map that clearly marks the nearest subway or bus stations. Or, book a hotel within walking distance of the location where your employee will meet your client.
Avoid Expensive Restaurants
Speaking of hotels, picking the right one helps employees save money on expensive restaurant fare. When booking a hotel, look for ones that offer breakfast buffets or in-room coffee makers, eliminating the need to purchase at least one meal. Or, you could help them avoid eating at restaurants altogether. If you can find a reasonably priced hotel with kitchens in the rooms, book it. This allows employees to purchase enough groceries to cook meals for the duration of the trip.
Hire a Travel Agent
In today’s stress-filled business environment, it’s hard to even find the time to schedule a business trip. A travel agent takes care of scheduling flights, booking hotel rooms, arranging transportation and suggestion dining options. And, since travel agents know their way around travel rewards programs, they can usually find cheaper flight and hotel upgrades than you can. If the initial price of hiring a travel agent seems steep, consider this — one company saved more than $88,000 by switching to a travel agent.
Don’t Forget the Details
Taking care of major plans like flights, transportation and lodging is important, but don’t overlook details that could equal big savings:
- Purchase an international business cellphone plan — these offer services that don’t charge for roaming calls or texts.
- Obtain a reliable business travel insurance policy — if an emergency should occur, such a policy will ensure you don’t have to foot the bill for your employee’s medical care.
- Check TSA regulations and communicate them to employees, so they know how many carry-on bags are allowed on the flight, what size the luggage must be and how much it can weigh. Violating these requirements incurs an extra fee, so make sure employees are aware of these regulations before leaving.
- Check the currency exchange rates — this gives you an idea of how much needs to be spent overall; the U.S. dollar will go farther in some countries (like China), reducing the amount of strain put on the budget.
By making informed decisions, you’ll be able to foster international business relationships without breaking the bank. Don’t think of business travel as a burden, think of it as a sign that your small business is growing into the successful business it’s meant to be.