The Kindest Cuts

A senior buyer with 17 years of travel organizing experience shares her cost-cutting tips!

Maria Care is a senior buyer at BASF Canada Inc., a Mississauga, Ont.-based chemical company. After 17 years organizing travel for 140 road warriors, Care knows exactly how to cut travel costs. 

  1. Preferred airline. In Canada, there’s not a lot of choice, but it's still important to have a contract that’s regularly renegotiated. In addition to getting the best corporate travel pricing, a good agent will uncover value-added options. TIP: Renegotiate annually.
  2. Value-added options. Travel passes can save a lot of money. Buy a bunch upfront and use them for last-minute bookings. Initial purchase might be $450 but a last-minute flight can run you upto $1,400. Care also gets a few extras thrown in like lounge passes and one free trip—an easy and effortless give-away for the company holiday raffle.
  3. Online booking. Care uses a dedicated travel agent who administers and runs their online booking program. She says the cost of the TMC beats having your people wasting time on Travelocity. When booking through a live agent one transaction costs $45; doing the same transaction with an online booking tool costs $8.
  4. Hotels. An historical spend is the most effective way to negotiate hotel rates, and once again, Care's agent supplies this information. The report crunches out the top 20 or 30 hotel chains BASF has used. Care looks at volume and city centres and then generally sticks to big chains to narrow down where the major money is. "It puts us in a position of power, instead of $190/night, we’ll get $110/night," she says. TIP: Renegotiate every two years.
  5. Cars. Here’s a case where money is not necessarily the driving force. Care noticed Enterprise was offering cars in city centres, unlike Hertz who she had been with for years but only had airport locations. Care started giving some business to Enterprise, while negotiating hard with Hertz to provide incentives for the inconvenience. Hertz realized they were losing market share so they are now starting to expand. TIP: The longer the contract the better, if you can sign for 10 years do it!

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