Travel costs might not form the biggest part of your organisation’s budget, but they are probably one of the easiest to cut. However, while restricting how much your people can travel may help to save money, it can also restrict their ability to do their jobs well. So before you cancel all off-site meetings or ban everyone from leaving the office altogether, try these three simple ideas.
1. Start late and finish early
Peak-time travel is expensive. If I travel from Exeter to Bristol to arrive at 9am, it costs me £29.60 return. But if I travel to arrive just an hour later, it costs me £24.90 – a reduction of 15%. And if I travel from Bristol to London, delaying my arrival until just after ten o’clock can take my return fare down from £179 to £64.50 – a massive 63% saving.
So when you set up a meeting, think carefully about who will be there and how far they have to travel. If you are, for example, organising a meeting in the capital for people who will have to travel in from various places, why not start at 11 o’clock instead of first thing in the morning? You could save a small fortune, help to cut peak-time congestion – and give people an extra hour in bed.
2. Be smart about location
How many times have you been to a meeting or event that is held in an office on the outskirts or town or in a hotel somewhere way off the beaten track? And how many times have you had to drive far further than you really needed to or to take multiple forms of public transport to reach your destination?
Travelling to out-of-the-way venues wastes time and it wastes money. Next time you organise an event, find somewhere in the town centre, preferably near to the railway and bus stations. Send attendees a map, showing how to walk there once they get off the train or the bus. And if you are invited to something that doesn’t meet these criteria, then politely suggest a change of venue in the future.
3. Refund advance fares regardless
We all know that booking trains early save money. If I want to take a peak-time train from Bristol to London some time in early September, I’ll pay £179 return if I buy it on the day but only £97 if I buy an advance ticket now – a saving of 45%. Even if I buy an advance ticket to travel from Bristol to Birmingham next week, I’ll save £10 on the return fare. (You can probably tell by this point that I spend a lot of time travelling by train.)
But what if I buy my advance ticket now and my meeting gets cancelled sometime between now and when it is supposed to happen? In my experience, many people are put off buying cheaper advance tickets because you cannot usually get your money back if you change your mind. They know that they could get a better fare by purchasing a ticket in advance, but they are worried that their organisation won’t refund the cost of the ticket if they don’t use it.
So if you want your people to help save you money by purchasing cheaper advance tickets, rather than just rocking up at the ticket office on the day, then make it clear in your travel policies that you will refund all advance fares, even if the journey ends up not being required. There will always be a need for people to travel at short notice, but there’s little excuse for them not to book in advance if they know that they won’t lose out.