Many of us have an idealised view of planning a road trip, organising the playlist, deciding on pit stops along the way, having the luxury of stopping and starting whenever we please. Why not? It’s more flexible and on the face of it, provides us with better value than the cost of an airfare, right?
At first glance, it does come across as a more cost efficient option, however, it’s easy to overlook all the components that factor in to the price of ground travel. Rising fuel costs, high parking fees and increasing taxi fares are just some of the expenses that creep into our spending when opting to travel on the ground. As a result, many organisations are now finding themselves having to pay greater attention to an area of spend previously seen as trivial or insignificant. So now more than ever, it’s important to understand your current behaviours, spend and supply chain to determine if they suit your policy.
To start a discussion as to whether your company has a tailored travel policy that efficiently incorporates ground travel,
Despite the often higher costs of ground travel over air travel, it is still the road not so less travelled. The fact is, ground transport is an essential element of any successful travel program and if you are not currently making the most of the new services, new suppliers and apps, you are more than likely leaving money on the table.
Rather than abandon all possibility of ground travel in fear that costs become greater, try to follow these tips for smarter travel on the ground.
Review your use of hire cars
And if you do use hire cars:
- consolidate your contracts with a single supplier
- select the most appropriate vehicle class
- negotiate appropriate insurance cover and inform travellers of any cover under your general business insurance
- bundle in a GPS if travellers are not familiar with their destinations
- find out about tolls, parking arrangements, etc. at the destination
- ensure that hotel parking is available, if required
- understand license requirements for international driving
- encourage drivers to refuel before returning the vehicle.
Uber for business
Uber is not just for millennial travellers anymore; with the advent of Uber Business Travel, there is greater control over the trips employees take, their ride information and having their rides fit into the company’s own policy. An increasing number of business travellers opt to use Uber and it may be worth looking into incorporating it into your travel policy – and signing up for Uber’s business reporting tools.
(Traditional) Ride sharing
How often do two employees wait in your foyer for two separate cabs to the airport? There are big savings to be had by simply avoiding duplication. Use your booking data to alert travellers to colleagues going to the same location. And if you have a number of employees travelling together, a hire car may be cheaper and more convenient than cabs and public transport.
Most cities have dedicated rail or coach links between the airport and the CBD. Often, these are cheaper, quicker and more convenient than cabs – although they may still carry a stigma which will require some education to overcome. Many transfer providers do often also provide corporate rates and discounts for pre-booking.
Self-driving or cabs
Allowing travellers to drive themselves to the airport and leave their cars parked for a week may work out far more expensive than taking a cab. And if you do opt to park and fly, there are alternatives to high airport parking fees in most cities, with off-airport facilities providing cheaper rates and free transfers to and from the terminal.
Arrive in style
In many countries, taxis and airport shuttles may not be the safest or most convenient means of transport and limousines may be more suitable for all involved. And they often won’t cost too much more, especially if booked in advance. Talk about making an entrance at the next company meeting.
Payments and accounting
Reconciling and settling accounts can be tedious and time-consuming, so it’s important to choose vendors with the most accurate and convenient billing and payment systems. And always ensure that you have access to data so that you can manage your current usage and leverage the information for future planning and negotiation.
Duty of care
Remember, it’s not just about cost. Your organisation has a duty of care to ensure that travellers are safe and that their trips are as convenient and efficient as possible. While it may be cheaper to take a bus in a developing country, you certainly don’t want to subject your travellers to the inconvenience and dangers that may lurk out there, simply for a cheaper option.
Ground travel may not be as glamorous as we often envision, as anyone who has undergone a similar expedition will be able to recount. However, with estimates that ground transport can now account for up to 20% of travel spend, better savings can be achieved through a greater understanding of your specific needs, especially with a tailored policy that addresses them.
Yes, there may be some trade-off between cost and convenience, but it’s possible to balance the needs of your travellers while still managing to adhere to your budget and business objectives.
If you want to measure your expenditure and find out if you are driving your ground transport dollars as far as they can go