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It’s all in the timing


There are a number of ways to keep last minute travel plans costs in check

For many businesses, last-minute travel is inevitable. It can be difficult to pin down meetings and predict schedules, and there are often last-minute changes or requests that require travel. Since business travellers usually spend on the company dime, they generally worry less about the cost of a ticket and spend more freely than they might if it was from their own pocket. While Canadian businesses typically lose money when booking last-minute, how much do these trips affect their bottom line and can their impact be mitigated?

At Concur, we analyzed 2.3 million Canadian airfares between 2014 and Q2 2017 to determine the cost of booking last-minute corporate travel in Canada. We found that on average, booking air travel seven days or less before a trip will cost 18 per cent more than if it had been booked 15 days or more in advance. While most businesses book between four and seven days, and eight to 14 days in advance, 19 per cent of business travellers wait to book in the last three days before travel.

Hitting the sweet spot of booking flights eight days in advance is key to keeping last-minute travel costs in check. It can reduce booking costs by half that of booking seven or less days in advance. Armed with the right visibility and data, businesses can make smarter decisions about business travel policies, budgets and back-end processes that save money long-term.

Here are five strategies to help businesses keep costs down and improve efficiencies—even if last minute travel arises:

Establish a travel policy and leverage a travel solution, like Concur Travel, that encourages employees to book at least eight days prior to departure, and then monitor the results via reporting. By doing so, businesses can save an average of $60 per ticket with Canadian flights and $148 per ticket for US flights.

Reward employees for consistently booking within policy and avoiding last-minute travel.

When booking last-minute travel, compare fares across regional airports. Employees can save by travelling to small and mid-sized airports. Be sure to consider the location to determine if the airfare savings are greater than incremental spend on gas or car services.

Factor in ancillary fees when considering travel options. Checked bag fees, seat upgrades and meals quickly add up.

Adopt an integrated travel and expense management platform that allows you to track and report on the total cost of air travel, including ancillary fees.

Kevin Craig is the managing director of Concur Canada, a global leader in cloud-based travel and expense management solutions. Craig is an expert in identifying trends in corporate travel and technological innovation to better manage organizational spend.

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