Whether you are a sole proprietor or part of a major corporation, business travel is extremely important to business success. A recent study found that for every dollar that a company spends on business travel expenses, it gains $9.50 in revenue and earns $2.90 in profit.  However, with the price of flights and hotels on the rise, business travel costs can still be daunting, especially for smaller firms where every single dollar counts.  Here are four tips to help keep your company’s’ travel costs in check, and still get face to face to close the big deals.

Book Flights Early (but not too Early)

Your company cannot always plan when people need to travel. But whenever travel can be planned in advance, it is best to book flights early. How early? A recent study indicated that businesses could save up to 65 percent on airfare by booking their domestic flights seven weeks in advance (eleven weeks in advance for international flights). Interestingly, cost savings declines rapidly if a business traveler attempts to book a flight further out than these two timelines. While not all business travel can be planned seven to ten weeks in prior to execution, scheduling routine business travel in this manner can save companies some serious money.

Stay with Airbnb

Airbnb, the online home and apartment rental marketplace, can help business travelers cut lodging expenses considerably. On average, business travelers can save up to 37 percent on travel expenses by booking with Airbnb instead of standard hotels. Using an Airbnb property may help business travelers cut other costs further as well: staying in an apartment or home may reduce dining costs (if the Airbnb property has a kitchen), parking costs, or even internet costs. Airbnb has also created tools for small businesses – central billing applications, a dashboard for companies to manage employ travel – that make it easier than ever for firms to plan business travel using the innovative company. Even staying at an Airbnb during a conference works – just make sure you’re not too far from the action. But it can be good for when you want to sneak away at a conference.

Leverage Technology

Video teleconferencing technology has come a long way in the past decade, making it easier and cheaper to conduct virtual meetings where people can be seen heard and present information seamlessly. Use of video teleconference technology in lieu of travel can help save companies up to thirty percent or more on travel expenses. While VTCs cannot and should not be used to take the place of all face-to-face meetings, they can dramatically reduce travel costs for routine meetings, and even free up some time for key managers so they focus on other things.

Reap your Rewards

If you are a business traveler, you should sign up and account for every airline, rental car, and hotel rewards program out there, and keep track of all of your points. Over the long term, you will be eligible for discounts, or even free airfare, hotel rooms or car rentals. If your company has many employees and centrally books travel for them, consider a policy where employees’ reward points on company-funded travel are transferred over to the company. This will help the company to earn the same type of discounts as individuals get, and then apply them to other travelers to reduce costs.

Business travel is one of the most important and productive activities your company does. However, if not managed properly, business travel can be costly. Scheduling air travel early, using Airbnb, and leveraging technology and rewards programs can all help to lower travel expenses considerably.  So don’t wait: use these tips to keep your business expenses down, and get your deal makers back on the road.

William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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