Last Minute Travel Deals – Save a Tremendous Amount of Money

These days, there is a lot of competition going on in the travel industry. People are getting more and more options for finding the last minute travel packages. They, however, require to research a lot to find the best rates. Compare the cost of air tickets of different airlines and then make a choice.

No one likes to spend money on travelling. If you are looking forward to saving money, then you have to be flexible, willing to travel at odd hours, make your reservations around one to two months before the date of flying. One can search for the best rates in travel on the internet. The websites offer competitive rates

The last minute travel deals cover everything from hotel reservations, airline tickets, etc. The websites has an user-friendly interface and helps you to get the best airline travel deals for you. These online shops are a great way to compare the various rates online and find the one that fits your needs.

There are many airlines that offer discounts on weekends. Browse through for some fabulous travel deals. Often, people get amazing airfares but they are unable to go for the vacation because they think that they would not be able to do the packing in the last minute. So, you should pack your bags before looking for the right opportunity. The last minute travel can help you to save a significant amount of money. But you should be flexible enough to make compromises for the last minute travel.

Many of us are not great planners when it comes to going for vacation. The last minute travel deals which have become a very popular in the recent times. These exciting deals are cost effective and offer competitive rates. Visit the best travel websites and look for amazing options in travel.

The last minute deals are designed to meet your needs to a great extent. There are deals available for all classes like luxury, economy, budget and premium. As far as accommodation is concerned, the various options are guest houses, pubs, small hotels and apartments. For getting these last minute deals, you have to be flexible enough as you need to leave a day earlier or later to save fares. You do not get much time to think as may be you have to leave the very next day.

These brilliant and astounding travel deals are easily found on the Internet or through a travel agent. You would find these deals beneficial. Many airlines sell the tickets at lower rates to fill up the vacant seats. So, if you want to go on a vacation without spending a huge amount of money, these deals are the best for you. Take advantage of these deals and take those much needed holidays at the lowest price. Be prepared to go on a short notice and take full advantage of such deals. If you do not have much money to spend on travelling, the last minute travel deals are for you. Nothing can now stop you from going anywhere.

Travel and Saving: No Longer A Dream With Airline Travel Deals

There was once a time when travelling through air was considered to be a luxury. However, at present, with the rise in the number of flights available to travel to any part of the world, that is no longer a problem. In fact, in today’s world, air travel has become such an important part of everyone’s life that it is unthinkable to imagine the world without it. And with the advent of air travels at its present level, it is only to be expected that unique niches of untapped potential will rise up as well. That is where airline travel deals have popped up. Indeed, most people nowadays always consider the travel related offers readily available on the internet and elsewhere before booking any flight at all.

However, looking at the present level of economic crunch that the world is going through, it is only natural that airline travel costs would rise as well. That is where it is most important to consider hidden deals. First thing is to be ready to change dates based on the price. Holidays like Easter and Christmas are bound to generate more air traffic, translating into a higher cost of travel. Be ready to go a few days ahead of schedule to your destination in order to save up on those bucks. If you are looking for airline travel deals, be ready to be a little flexible.

Airline travel deals are not dependent on dates alone. If you want to save up on that precious money, be ready to take a detour. Look for flights to secondary airports. More often than not, these are not frequented by many people due to obvious reasons and hence, you can usually get good deals for these. Additionally, adjusting your destination in cases when you are opting for a holiday outside your country can be a good idea as well. Opt to visit places not usually frequented by other travellers. Not only does this help you avoid those annoying crowds, it also gives you a good chance to save up on funds which can used up elsewhere.

Be on the watch out for good deals. Remember, there is something called a frequent flier mile program always available to us. Most of us might choose to ignore it, but it remains a point nevertheless that some of the best airline travel deals are related with how good you are with your finance. Let’s be honest here. No one likes to spend for something which can be obtained for free. Do all your spending on card. Most banks provide good travel deals with these. There are even certain forums on the internet which emphasize on which routes to take to earn the most of the free miles. In fact, it has been seen that people who do these bonus routes more often usually spend the least on the long run. Granted that these might be more costly initially, but when it actually starts paying you back, these free miles are worth their weight in gold.

Are you a student? Do not fail to sign up for the student discounts available. You might not realize this, but the amount of discounts they actually provide can be quite substantial. Also, another point to keep in mind while looking for airline travel deals is that choice of comparison and search engines matters a lot. In most cases, these do not provide fair reviews as almost all have tie ups with some airline company. Not only that; quite a few popular ones do not even have all international airlines listed. Opt for global search engines and then also compare a few to check out the lowest fare. You never know when you might hit jackpot.

Finally, book early. Almost all airlines provide discounts if you book your ticket early. Remember- “the early bird gets the worm”. Of course, there is no alternative to dedication. If you truly wish it, you can undoubtedly save up on some serious cash while traveling. Bon voyage.

Travel Deals – Getting The Most From Your Travel Discounts

There are many reasons why firms offer reduced, or discounted travel deals, ranging from flights, up to packages which include several components, all inclusive in one price.

One of the main reasons for travel deals is the unsold places. Competition can also play a part in further reductions in list prices.

Before giving you a whole list of tips to get the best travel deals and discounts, I want to show you a amazingly simple but brilliant technique that you can use pretty much in most places and for most products and services.

I have used the technique all over the place it works so well it is almost unbelievable. But it is so simple that you may dismiss it without trying. I want you to be mentally prepared and be willing to give it a try, so here we go.

To get a discount or a bargain in most places, even in a high class boutique or a high street store, what you need to do is: “ASK”. Yes, just “ask”. But also I want you to remember, as they say, “… it is not what you say, but the way you say it …” that really counts.

So, to get a discount, you need to keep your intention to ‘buy’ to yourself until you’re ready to make your payment. You must always appear like you’re not convinced yet and that if the sales person doesn’t “do better” “he will lose” the deal. But you should also seem reasonably interested or else the sales person will think you’re not serious and therefore he won’t try to sweeten the deal for you.

OK, so how do you do all of the above? Easy and this is how I’ve done it for travel deals all the way to buying just 2 shirts at an up market men’s boutique – yes for just 2 shirts:

* I get information on the various options (be it travel deals or shirts).

* I decide what I want but will only – and this is the very important part – tell the sales person about a portion of what I want. So I may show interest in just one shirt or a holiday for 2 people and not 4.

* I ask all my questions and show that it is just what I want (so the sales person knows he almost has sale) but …

* I indicate that I’m not happy with the price. For example I may have seen something similar cheaper elsewhere. Or that I am prepared to go shopping around (all sales people know, if the customer walks out they usually will not come back). Or that I have the money (you’ll see why next) but had not planned on spending that much.

* I let the sales person try to ‘sell me the IDEA’ that it is OK to buy the product. Sometimes, they offer some free product (e.g. a pair of socks or tickets for a gallery or some show while on holiday). Then I ‘ask’ for the discount but make it clear that I will definitely buy if they give me the discount. This is how I ‘ask’ …

* “Look I’ll definitely take it at $X”. The sales person then says “… so you want $Y off the price?!”. They may tell you they don’t normally offer a discount outside of the sales season, etc. If they are very confident about not offering discounts, I then say “ok, I’ll take 2 shirts … this one and … that one, only if you give me them at $Z for both …”.

* At this stage the sales person may even say he hasn’t the authority to offer discounts. No problem, I ask them to speak to their boss. I have done this lots of times and get this: 90% of the time the boss agrees to the discount. Of the remaining 10% at least half the time, the boss offers me a counter discount which is a not as good as what I asked for but still pretty good.

Do you want to know the kind of discounts I’ve had? Well, on two shirts worth $62 I got $22 off. That is around 35%! On a travel package worth around $4,300, I got about $600 off but wait for it … I also got an upgrade from a deluxe room to a business suite in the same 5 star hotel. That suite was worth $800 per night and the deluxe room was worth $250 per night!

I had to explain the above details at length but all that I did was to display that I ‘WILL’ buy with a discount. They knew all they had to do was just one thing: give me a discount, so they did it. I made it, as they say, “a no brainer” for them.

In short just “ask” but (a) be realistic (let them make a little profit, don’t ask for 80% off) and (b) have a little flexibility as a backup plan (be ready to tell them that you’ll buy more, e.g. 2 shirts or a holiday for 4. Hey, even the sales people like to think they have got a concession form you … it is not a one-way street).

This technique works for almost everything but also works extremely well for travel bargains too. So lets get back to more tips specific to travel deals then.

Travel bargains, discounts and deals are all around you because we all travel regularly and repeatedly for holidays as well as for business and of course the travel industry competes for our dollars. Nevertheless, some research and being alert to travel deals can mean more substantial savings. Here’s how to spot and get the best travel deals:

* Booking as early as possible usually entitles you to some travel discount.

* If you’re buying more than one ticket, a further travel discount is possible.

* Be flexible. Sometimes weekend flights can be cheaper than weekdays (less business travellers).

* Flights departing later at night can be cheaper.

* Depending on your timetable, consider indirect flights, which take longer, but are probably cheaper, as opposed to direct flights.

* Travelling other than peak periods, such as schools holidays and public holidays will probably be heaper.

* More often than not, holiday packages are cheaper than buying the components separately.

* Compare prices online, by phone, or visit individual travel agents in the high street.

* As all airlines overbook, consider taking a later flight which usually comes with sweeteners from the airline in the form of further travel discounts, and travel vouchers.

* It may also be possible to travel on ‘stand by’, but it means that you’ll be called with very little notice

* If you’re lucky, it may be possible to travel as a ‘courier’. Some firms will pay, or subsidise your airfare in return for carrying important packages and letters.

* Buy travel insurance that best suits your circumstances. In case of emergencies it’ll save you lots of money.

The more time and effort you devote, the better travel deals you’ll bag. In many instances the saving could be quite substantial. So much so that you may be able to add on extra days stay. Happy travel deals.

Choosing the Right All Inclusive Travel Deals

People travel for numerous reasons. Either they serve a professional purpose or they are searching for places in which they can just relax and have fun. For that, they are always in the lookout for things that would make their travel experiences worthwhile. This is why convenience and budget are very much considered by any type of traveller. Luckily, there are now all inclusive travel deals being offered both online and offline. These are deals that you can check out when you are looking for service providers who can book and reserve an entire trip for you. But why should you really want all inclusive travel deals?

One reason you should choose all inclusive travel deals is that they cut your expenses by a really wide margin. Definitely, the “all inclusive” phrase refers a lot to the amount of money you have to spend for your travels. Especially if you are travelling to a foreign land, you can expect to be charged with exorbitant fees and humongous bills. Local travels are just as expensive. Therefore, what you should look for are travel arrangements that will provide everything you need for the entire trip-fare, hotel, food, and local tripping among others.

In this case, you need a travel agent who can make arrangements for your trip. If you consider it closely, you would find that the deals your agent offers are priced cheaper than when you spend on separate arrangements on your own. For example, a package of both the fare and the accommodations is a lot cheaper than if you buy a plane ticket and book a hotel separately. This may be brought by the fact that travel agencies have ties with other service providers. But surely, they can get arrangements done fast and cheap.

Another reason you can have for choosing all inclusive travel deals is that you need not to worry about making separate arrangements to cover for everything that you will need for your trip. This goes very much like the first reason except that you refer more to the effort of arranging a trip than to the amount you will be spending. Truly, all inclusive travel deals lessen your TTDs (things-to-do) when planning a trip.

Almost all travel agencies are reliable in this particular task. They enable you to come out with a scheduled flight, full hotel accommodation, and even a complete local itinerary before you even fly out to your destination. When you try to arrange for everything individually, you will have difficulties because service providers like airlines and hotels are not easily contacted. Further, you cannot book the trip on your preferred customized schedule-and this is very possible with the help of travel agents.

Finally, if you are asking why you choose all inclusive travel deals, then you should understand that these arrangements would help you go to more places than you originally plan to be in. Well, if you consider how much time and money you are saving from one trip to another when you choose all inclusive travel deals, then you would know this last reason is very valid. After two or three trips, you would be surprised to know that you have saved a good enough sum for yet another travel.

This is a perk of all inclusive travel deals that many people like because everyone loves a good travel experience. It broadens your mind and exposes you to different societies. Therefore, you need to choose travel deals that would help you plan more than a couple of travels without requiring you to pay for huge amounts.

Benefits of Availing All Inclusive Travel Deals

Traveling is an enjoyable affair, especially if done for leisure. This is why several people choose to travel when they get the time off their works or schools-and, of course, when they have extra money to spend on something that is not actually unnecessary. With the availability of all inclusive travel deals that many companies offer these days, the client bases have really expanded because more people get to avail of the packages. Aside from that, all inclusive travel deals have so many benefits to offer that just add to their popularity among travellers.

One of the common benefits that all inclusive travel deals provide is that you can experience an easy and convenient trip. Actually, it comes with the very term “all inclusive”. Meaning, the travel package that you will avail of already takes care of everything you might need for your trip. You get the best flight schedule with a very convenient carrier. Then, when you get to your destination, you already have a place to stay in as well as meals to take in the duration of your trip. Plus, you have your itinerary laid out for you.

If this is the case for a leisure travel, then you have signed up for a really great deal. What you will get is really a worry- and hassle-free trip where you only relax and enjoy the places you go to. On the other hand, if the package you get is for a business trip, it would mean more productivity on your part. This is because you no longer will have to worry about where you will stay or eat or ride. You will have the convenience of focusing on the job you have travelled for.

Another benefit of all inclusive travel deals is that you can save up on the usual travel expenses. What you have to know is that travel companies or agencies all have tie-ups with third-party service providers. They know where they can get you great hotel deals, with complete meal packages. They also have connections that will provide you with convenient transportation services as you go from one place to another. In better deals, they can even have a local tour guide come with you to assist you in everything you do around the place.

Now, you also have to know that if you do all these by yourself, your expenses are going to blow out of proportions. You will definitely end up paying double for something you can get great discounts over. Imagine if you decide to find a separate hotel arrangement, you might get deals at a $100 per night of stay. Your travel agent, meanwhile, can get you a room of the same quality but half the price. This, they can do because of existing partnerships that you, of course, do not have.

Finally, and in connection with the fact that all inclusive travel deals let you save on your expenses, you can also enjoy the benefit of being able to travel to more than one place at a time. Nowadays, there are tour packages that string three different countries for a specific span of time. Or, they offer packages that include cruises from one place to another. This is possible because of the arrangements of travel agencies with existing partnerships with other service providers. It enables them to book accommodations and transportation services that let you cross from one country to another without having to double on the travel expenses. This is a benefit that you certainly will miss if you choose to plan your trips on your own.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler-centricity and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

full business itinerary details
up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are travelling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler-centric can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.