Creative Strategies for Keeping Travel Costs Low as a Travel Manager

travel managers

Most corporate travel managers work for large companies and enterprises with healthy budgets. Nonetheless, travel planners prove their value when they manage their budgets efficiently. For example, managers should avoid going over budget and save money whenever possible. Then, managers can cover emergencies, unexpected expenses, and last-minute trips with the leftover funds. In addition, keeping trip costs low demonstrates that managers respect their employers and revenue. The American business travel sector has amassed a market share nearing $1.7T by some accounts. American corporate travelers spend a total of $122B and help maintain about 720k jobs in the hospitality and related fields. Even though corporations and enterprises spend between $1,000 and $1,300 on average for 3-day trips, corporate travel managers should avoid overspending when it’s unnecessary. Overspending can easily cause more price inflation, which impacts all related sectors.

What Are Corporate Travel Costs?

Corporate travel costs are expenses incurred when company executives and employees attend meetings, conferences, gatherings, and training away from their offices. Standard corporate travel costs break down into a few categories:

  • Flight costs
  • Ground transportation charges
  • Accommodation fees
  • Meal costs

Common corporate travel expenses include:

  • Taxi or rideshare costs
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner fees
  • Conference registration fees or ticket costs
  • Parking fees
  • Baggage fees

The following are creative strategies for keeping travel costs low as a travel manager.

Work with a Third-Party

Sometimes the name of the game is efficiency. For decades companies have outsourced tasks to keep costs low. Corporate travel managers don’t need to outsource their job duties; instead, they can work with third parties. In 1996, the first major online travel agency launched. Since then, several others have followed suit and helped travelers find the best flight, hotel, and ground transportation rates. Using comparison websites to find the best deals is a great way to obtain the best rates efficiently. Hotel Engine is one such third party that provides various services to corporate travel managers and planners.

Negotiate with Vendors

Negotiating rates with vendors is not a new concept. However, taking the right approach requires some creativity. For example, create win-win scenarios, so the company sees favorable rates and hotel partners gain new clients. As corporate travel managers gain experience, they’ll pick up on the pain points for hotels, airlines, and ground transportation providers. Use the knowledge as leverage and incorporate it into rate negotiations.

Establish Business Relationships with Vendors

Another way to gain negotiation leverage and keep costs low is establishing business relationships with vendors. Human contact continues becoming en vogue again. Thus, find vendors in cities that team members visit frequently and establish win-win business relationships.

Book Early and Book Last Minute

Some conferences, trade shows, and industry events attract thousands of attendees, causing hotels, restaurants, and flights to fill quickly. Therefore, corporate travel managers benefit from booking early and from booking last minute. It’s important to book accommodations, flights, meals, and ground transportation as soon as in-demand events announce their dates. The strategy ensures that team members don’t stay and eat at places far from the event. After securing spots, managers should monitor prices periodically. If prices drop and spaces become available, managers can re-book at lower rates, including at the last minute.

Book in Bulk

Whenever possible, travel planners should book in bulk. It cuts down the administrative costs for hospitality vendors. Therefore, vendors can pass the savings to their clients. The strategy also guarantees higher volumes of business. Thus, vendors can cut on marketing efforts for those dates.

Incorporate Software into Operations

Accommodations automatically raise their prices after guests book a specific number of rooms for certain dates through artificial intelligence and algorithms. Travel managers can use similar strategies by incorporating software into their operations. The software allows managers to book travel, set up alerts, and track expenses more efficiently, reducing the administrative time needed per task.

Minimize Unexpected Expenses

Emergencies and unexpected expenses will occur. However, travel managers can minimize them and keep them low. Start by developing corporate travel policies and using them as travel handbooks for traveling team members. Then, keep the policies updated and find solutions to one-off situations or instances that start becoming trends.


Experience helps corporate travel managers uncover creative strategies for keeping travel costs low. Use the knowledge to establish business