A comprehensive guide to understanding business rail bookings

Business travel management is huge – and business rail bookings are only part of it.

There are countless phrases, words and acronyms that form part of the everyday lingo for those in the industry. But what if you’re sat just outside of the business travel industry? What if you’re a client who’s trying to cut through the jargon to keep up-to-date with your travel management company?

To that we would say: break it all down and get the basics covered, one topic at a time.

Let’s start with business rail bookings. There are countless terms that are specific to train travel, as well as industry inside information, like the pros and cons to printing your own train tickets, or the exact timings of off-peak and super off-peak tickets.

Whether you currently use a TMC or not, the following definitions and useful information will clue you up on everything that you need to know about rail booking and train travel – and could provide insight into how your make savings on your travel spend.

What is the definition of split-ticketing?

Split ticketing is the process of buying separate train tickets for different parts of a journey, instead of buying a ticket for the whole thing. Travel management companies recommend split-ticketing as a way of making your rail travel cheaper. Crucially, split-ticketing doesn’t violate any train company terms & conditions.

What is the definition of lead time?

In business travel, lead time is the number of days between making a booking and the date of travel. It’s a major factor to consider when it comes to travel management as maximising your lead time can create significant savings.

As is the case with most things in life, the further ahead you book your travel, the lower the price will be – this is certainly the case when it comes to train travel and it’s worth taking advantage of advance fares if your calendar is fairly concrete…

Should you self-print your business train tickets?

Self-printing your train tickets might sound like the most convenient option, and it certainly can be for many business travellers. It really hinges on how likely your plans are to change.

Self-printed tickets are non-exchangeable and non-refundable because the train company doesn’t know that your copy of the ticket is the only copy. If not, then you could buy a ticket, make multiple copies and  before asking for a refund -effectively getting your ticket for free. Train companies are far too smart to let that happen. This is also why self-printing is only available for advance bookings.

What are off-peak and super off-peak train times?

Off-peak train times:

– Mon – Fri; Not valid for arrival into London before 11:30am

– Mon – Fri; Not valid for leaving London before 9:30am and between 3-6:45pm

– Weekend; Valid on trains at weekends and on public holidays

Super Off-peak train times:

– Mon- Fri; Not valid for arrival into London before 1pm and between 3-8:30pm

– Mon- Fri; Not valid leaving London before 11am and between 1:30pm- 8:15pm

– Weekend; Not valid for arrival into London before 12pm and between 5:45pm- 8pm

– Weekend; Not valid for leaving London before 10:30 and 4:30- 6:30pm

It’s worth pointing out that these are only given as guidelines by the train companies, and it would be wise to double check this before booking. Each ticket is given a 2 letter restriction code just underneath the booking reference; you can input the code on the National Rail website and it will tell you the proper off peak/super off peak validity for that ticket. Of course, if you use a TMC then they will take care of this for you…

So, that’s the basics covered – however, there is of course more to know. If there are still travel management terms that leave your head in a spin (not that you’d ever let anyone know…) then you can download our comprehensive, complimentary travel management glossary, which breaks down all of travel management’s key terms. Just click here to download your copy.

About the Author:

Rachael is Click Travel’s PR and Content Marketing Executive and is responsible for all of our digital and print content, packaging up and presenting the wealth of expertise at Click in a way that works for you.