At SAP Concur, we analyzed 2.3 million Canadian airfares between 2014 and Q2 2017 to determine the cost of booking last minute corporate travel in Canada. We found that on average, booking air travel seven days or less before a trip will cost 18 per cent more than if it had been booked 15 days or more in advance. While most businesses book between four and seven days, and eight and 14 days in advance, 19 per cent of business travelers wait to book travel in the last three days before travel.
For those travelling to the U.S., the costs are even steeper. Booking air fares to American destinations seven days or less before a trip will cost on average 44 per cent more than if it had been booked 15 days or more in advance.
These costs may seem extensive, but they are avoidable. In fact, according to Juniper Research, travel is the second largest controllable business expense behind salaries. When armed with the right visibility and data, businesses can make smarter decisions about business travel policies, budgets and back-end processes that will ultimately save them money long-term.
As unpredictable as business travel may be, even slight adjustments to your planning policy and organization can lead to big savings. For example, hitting the sweet spot of booking flights eight days in advance can reduce booking costs by half that of booking seven or less days in advance.
Here are five additional strategies to help businesses keep costs down and improve efficiencies – even if last minute travel arises:
- Establish a travel policy and leverage a travel solution, like Concur Travel, that encourages employees to book at least eight days prior to departure, and then monitor the results via reporting. By doing so, businesses can save an average of $60 per ticket with Canadian flights and $148 per ticket for U.S. flights.
- Reward employees for consistently booking within policy and avoiding last-minute travel.
- When booking last-minute travel, compare fares across regional airports. Employees can save by traveling to small and mid-sized airports. Be sure to consider the location to determine if the airfare savings are greater than incremental spend on gas or car services.
- Factor in ancillary fees when considering travel options. Checked bag fees, seat upgrades and meals quickly add up.
- Adopt an integrated travel and expense management platform that allows you to track and report on the total cost of air travel, including ancillary fees.
Kevin Craig, Managing Director, SAP Concur Canada.
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