Business/ Travel Expenses: What you need to know

Air travel may represent the single biggest travel expense for employers. It is thus the item where cost-cutting measures probably will have the greatest impact. One effective step is to require employees to use the least expensive coach fare, or to do so if traveling less than a specified distance. If this tactic is adopted, the policy should be stated clearly and should be applied consistently to all employees. Where cost containment is a concern, centralizing ticket booking so that one person or department makes all arrangements is a clear advantage over requiring that employees, some of whom may rarely travel, wend their way through the airline system. Also, a policy for the use of frequent flier or bonus miles is advisable. Many employers give the credit to the individual employee to show that the employee's frequent travel is appreciated. According to BLR's Survey of Employee Benefits, 67 percent of responding employers allow their employees to redeem frequent flier miles in 2007. This percentage represents a drop from 87 percent the previous year.
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Other cost-saving tips. Limiting first-class and business-class tickets is not the only way to save money on air travel. It is possible to obtain discounts by agreeing to use a particular travel agency or airline exclusively. Employees often avoid using nonrefundable airfares, fearing that their travel plans may change at the last minute, resulting in a wasted ticket. But the savings on nonrefundable tickets are so great that a company may still save money even if it uses only 60 percent of the tickets. If possible, encourage employees to purchase tickets well in advance of a scheduled trip to obtain a lower fare. Online purchases and electronic ticketing also ...

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