How can SMEs best manage their business travel?

Business travel represents a large part of expenditure, making it a daunting challenge for small and medium-sized companies.

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The reduced size of small and medium-sized businesses means they are less ‘equipped’ than large groups, but they still face the same issues: they must travel in order to grow and gain new contracts. So what solutions do they use to manage this situation? Read on…

It’s not just CAC 40 companies that go on business trips! According to the latest Amex GBT barometer on business travel trends in Europe, small and medium-sized companies are also responsible for the market increase (+5% in 2017). It’s a sure sign that it’s often necessary to trek the roads, stations and airports in order to make it into the big league, and it proves that VSEs/SMEs are in no way ‘stay-at-homes’. But business trips also require a travel budget, and VSEs/SMEs often have limited human and financial resources, rarely having a department dedicated to business trips. In fact, the company’s sales agents often organise their business travel themselves. 

Reducing expenses

Taking advantage of travel cards
This should be the first concern for frequent travellers. Opt for the business versions of travel passes to benefit from advantages and preferential rates: the AccorHotels Business Plus card, BizTravel by Air France-KLM, Thalys Corporate Fares by Thalys (in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany) and Europcar, which is a partner of AccorHotels.

Early travel planning
Even if you can’t organise all your appointments ahead of time, it’s still possible to plan key events one to three months in advance, such as trade fairs and conferences, so you can find the best fares before demand increases.

Choose low-cost options
Collaborative and low-cost solutions are emerging every year (low-cost flights, chauffeur-driven car rental, car-share websites, etc.). These are usually far more advantageous than traditional services. Because they’re so keen to save on expenses, VSEs and SMEs are often the first to try these innovative solutions out. 

Be flexible and creative when booking

Be creative and check out all hotels within a 10km radius of an event; change computers (and therefore IP address) when searching to avoid price increases, or download apps that inform you of last-minute offers.

Using centralised solutions

Frequently in small companies, the person travelling has to pay their own travel costs in advance, which may present a problem. Once the trip is over, processing the actual expenses is often time consuming for both the traveller and the manager, and reimbursement can take a while. Centralised solutions, such as the AccorHotels Business Account, can really simplify this process. These services make it possible to manage an overall travel budget as well as booking, paying and pro-cessing expense claims with the same tool by using a settlement account. It’s an option that guarantees peace of mind at each stage of the trip 

Let an expert manage costs

An aspect that small companies may also find complicated when organising business trips is man-aging expense claims, recovering VAT, controlling expenditure, etc. Many SMEs lack the facilities and the time. For this reason, some have moved towards using platforms dedicated to managing business expenses, such as Jenji, Ticket Travel Pro and Expensya. Once more, as a way of sav-ing money, VSEs and SMEs are more likely to try out new solutions like these and they are often pioneers of fresh, savvy ideas. 

Published by Magali on 23/10/2018 Photo credit: © Izusek

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