De La Soul would have you believe that 3 is the magic number, but in actual fact, it’s 3.5.

Or at least it is if you’re trying to save money on your travel spend and aren’t trying to write a smash hip hop record – which I’m assuming you aren’t.

Monitoring just how much your organisation is spending on business travel is the first step towards making any savings whatsoever. However, once you start delving into the numbers you can soon feel overwhelmed – how do you know what’s worth keeping an eye on and what’s nothing more than a bit of numerical clutter?

The big one is your overall travel spend. This only counts as half a piece of advice because the reasons why you need to track this are fairly self-explanatory – it’s only by being clear on how much you’re spending that you can work out exactly how much you’d like to reduce that spend by.

The good news is that, once you’ve cracked this, there are only 3 more numbers that you need to keep track of in order to start seeing a reduction in how much your organisation is spending on business travel. Here they are:

1. How many weeks in advance are you booking your travel?

Train and air fares are not a fine wine, a strong cheese or even an avocado – they do not improve with the passage of time. In fact, the price you can expect to pay for a train journey or flight nearly always increases as its departure time draws near and so if your team are repeatedly booking their tickets last minute then they’ll definitely be creating an unnecessary hike in your organisation’s travel spend.

In order to start booking ahead of time and opening up access to significantly lower rates you need to look at why your team are leaving things so late. Some of them will just be unorganised, sure, but there might be a more fixable problem lurking under the surface. Are they putting off booking because they find the process too much of a faff? Or are they avoiding committing to a particular travel time because, in the event of plans changing, they find amending the ticket too difficult? Both issues can be solved by finding a booking site that’s easy to use and will let travellers amend their bookings simply should times and arrangements change – which they inevitably will…

2. How many anytime train tickets are being booked?

There’s no denying that the sense of freedom that an anytime train ticket gives you is nothing short of intoxicating – you can avoid the rush hour crush on the tube, you can stop for a cheeseburger, the world really is your oyster. That said, anytime tickets are often the most expensive type of ticket that you can book and if they’re your team’s go-to ticket then you’re really paying for it.

Of course, plans change and schedules get shifted and so an anytime ticket can seem like the smart choice, but there are ways to avoid paying the highest fees. First up, look to see whether meetings can be arranged during off-peak travel times – this will instantly give you a better rate. Secondly, remind your team that they can have the best of both worlds by booking a cheaper set time on their outward journey and then enjoy the flexibility of an anytime return on the way back. That way, the traveller isn’t inconvenienced and the ticket cost is reduced – win/win.

3. What’s the current spend of each department?

Let’s be real, digging deep into the financial breakdown of your organisation’s travel spend is not going to be a non-stop thrill ride. However, working out exactly where your spend is coming from is the key to making savings later down the line and so it’s worth pushing past the feeling that you’ll never not be staring at rows of numbers – that this is your life now. You’ll thank yourself later on when you can easily identify where best to allocate budgets and also who might be playing fast and loose with the company expense system.

Depending on your set up, it may come down to picking through spreadsheets to work out how much each department is spending on travel over any given period of time. To make things easier for yourself, and your teams, look for a booking site that’s built specifically for business travel bookings and which offers in-built reporting services that allow you to customise regular reports and sort spend by department.

To start using a booking site that’s easy to use, full of all the content that you’d find anywhere else and which can provide you with clear, concise reporting on your travel spend then sign up toClick Traveltoday

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