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How to select suppliers to save of travel expenses

Travel management timer 2 min.
Carol Bernard
Comparison chart

When we reach the conclusion that travelling is required, our goal is to acquire the best services at a good price, thereby making savings on our travel expenses.

While, years ago, when preparing a business trip, we contracted the services of a traditional travel agencynowadays, thanks to e-commerce, we can deal with suppliers with an online presence. The suppliers also facilitate the booking process, which means that companies have access to different agents without the need for intermediaries. These days, thanks to these online suppliers, it is possible to by a train or plane ticket, book a hotel or hire a car. Taking this situation into account, we have to identify which is the most suitable supplier to provide the service in question.

In every case, it is important to take all of the variables into consideration. It has been demonstrated that certain operations work out more expensive, not because of the final price in itself, but rather because of a series of services that we no longer receive. For example, certain agencies may offer us a detailed breakdown of what we spend on each item (hotels, car rental, etc.), credit card reconciliation, customized billing in line with the needs of the company’s accounting department, integration with the company’s accounting or ERP systems, etc. In other words, they provide us a whole list of services that have a cost and that can streamline the process of drafting expense reports  for salespeople. The situation has also changed compared to a few years ago, in view of the fact that, nowadays, there are different purchasing channels. So we can now call by telephone (as we used to do), send an e-mail or make a booking or purchase with our mobile or a tablet. To put it another way, we have the tools to carry out actions quickly, directly and immediately, without having to rely on third parties to do so.

There is another aspect that we have to bear in mind. If purchases are made using a smartphone without any type of control, our purchasing volume will be dispersed. This generates a loss in purchasing power when it comes to negotiating prices with suppliers. As such, it is advisable to undertake an analysis at a consultancy level in order to be able to make a comparison based on the results of the various options.

In the case of complex trips (for instance, a number of visits across the same continent requiring a chain of different flights, or trips to faraway destinations), it is not a good idea to make a purchase based on intuition through a website, as we would probably end up buying the direct flight, which is the easiest option but also the most expensive. In contrast, a specialized and experienced agency can advise us to change flights somewhere in Europe or combine flights from different companies.

This leads us to the conclusion that we need to undertake a comparison between the different suppliers so that we have a clear idea of what services they offer at what price. By doing so, we can identify our degree of satisfaction at both a qualitative and financial level. However, we have no guarantees that this information will always be the same, as certain factors may change on more than one occasion. As a result, it is necessary to undertake a consulting and auditing analysis on a regular basis. 

Download the guide "How to manage travel expenses efficiently"

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