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Opportunities for travel savings-0000It doesn’t have to be that hard. Planning company travel in advance can help trim travel expenditure.


For any exporting business, travel is a necessity. It’s about going to trade fairs, being in the markets you’re targeting, meeting distributors and finding new opportunities. travel is a cost of doing business – but how you go about booking your travel can make a big difference.

What serves you better – organizing your travel through an agent or looking for deals yourself? Steve Ovens, sales and marketing manager of Carlson Wagonlit travel, says agents offer many opportunities for savings. “There would be an expectation of saving at least 20% of travel costs. “I’m saying that, of course, without knowing the size of a given company’s travel programme.”


Ovens, and Chris Paykel, Wagonlit travel’s head of programme management, say the most important thing for a company to do is establish a travel policy and make all staff aware of it. “We have a policy-builder programme that has been worked out with looking at like-sized clients and putting together best-practice solutions. We then focus on our particular client and see what works best.”

Opportunities for travel key takeaways-0000The travel policy looks at who needs to travel and when, and highlights exceptions to the policy. In this way it’s easy to see if there are people in the business not going through the correct processes and perhaps overspending. It highlights non-compliance, they say.

Grant Bevin, managing director of Business World travel, says smaller companies may not think they need to go through a travel management company, but it can be very advantageous whatever your size. “There are benefits for our small- and mid-sized New Zealand clients and international companies because going through us gives them more buying power than their size would usually allow.

“How it works is we collect our smaller clients together and co-ordinate them as a collective. For international travel, we work with international partners and use our and their purchasing power to negotiate as if we were dealing with larger accounts.  Through combining our clients, the little guys get access to similar buying power as larger companies.”

Bevin says ways of negotiating with hotels change regularly – an agent keeps in touch with the best deals. “We look for the best available rate. We use the global Distribution system (GDS), which is quick and fast. Rates can change every day and sometimes we can achieve 50 to 60% off,” he says. Because of bulk buying power, clients are not restricted to a minimum room nights.

“We can access good deals for rental cars by negotiating on our client’s behalf. We do look at best value rather than rate, and what sort of car is required,” he adds.

Bevin says using the internet yourself to make travel plans is fine for leisure based travel. More knowledge and buying power is required for business travel. “Also, if you’re trawling the web finding travel deals, you’re taking time away from your core business. That can be costly too.”

Websites are like brochures, he says, in that they don’t always give a true reflection of what a hotel or car company is like. Agents, however, usually have a good idea of what’s available and what’s best for your needs. “We have a network around the world and check hotels. We know if there’s mould in the bathroom!”

Bevin says booking ahead can save costs when doing international travel – and that can mean catching “deep discounts” for business class tickets. “We do encourage our clients to set their dates, even if it means paying a small fee to change the flight – doing this can save thousands.”


Nicole Manilal, sales and marketing executive of Executive travel group, says: “We recognise that booking in advance is not always possible.  However, in by far the majority of companies we have gone through this process with, we identify a level of change that can easily be made, with significant results. “For instance, we recently suggested to a medium-sized travel account [about $300,000 a year] that they reduce their use of flexible fares for domestic and trans Tasman travel by just 12.5%, and this resulted in a saving of about $10,000 a year.”

Zeacom, an exporter of unified communication technology, uses Business World travel.

Bevin says: “Zeacom has adopted our Serko Online Booking tool to help streamline its domestic and Tasman travel authorisation and booking processes for the travelling employees of Zeacom. We analyse travel spend and booking patterns for Zeacom’s management through regular reporting, which assists in budgeting, establishing emerging travel patterns and cost containment.

“Longhaul international travel is booked by Zeacom travelers themselves, directly with our team.”

Zeacom CEO Miles Valentine says:  “the relationship our company has with its agent works, and I don’t have to think about it much. We’ve been dealing with them for about 10 years and through them we get the best prices. “I see them as being good value and we get as competitive deals as we can get. The service fee we pay is offset by what we save in travel costs and efficiency,” he says.


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