If you’re the business owner of a small or medium enterprise, keeping your company’s travel budget in check is most likely a top priority.

Business travel has been rated one of the five most significant expenses for businesses of any size. However, Andrew Grunewald, Brand Leader at Flight Centre Business Travel (FCBT), warns against slashing budgets to make travel budget ends meet.

A knee-jerk reaction to cut down on travel cost often sees companies limit employees to unreasonable per diems or put them up in more affordable accommodation,” he says.

Grunewald suggests five ways companies can keep their travel budget down while still growing their business:

Offer your travellers value-for-money perks

It might sound counter-productive, but, offering your travellers perks and luxuries could, in fact, save you money.

Value-adds don’t always have to be at the expense of a company. “You can proactively offer your employees perks while staying within budget,” says Grunewald.

Make the most of loyalty programmes  

Loyalty programmes are a great way to keep your employees happy, while at the same time allowing the company to keep the budget down.

In fact, many international airlines have frequent flyer programmes designed to benefit not just the traveller but also the company, from free upgrades to lounge access and fast check-in.

Similarly, large hotel chains have loyalty programmes that allow subscribers to collect points for each booking. Points may be exchanged for discounts and even free nights, meaning further savings for your business as well as increasing your travellers’ enjoyment.

By including hotel and airline loyalty programmes on the travel policy, you ensure your travellers enjoy added benefits while your company wracks up free flights and more.

Discourage last-minute trips

Last-minute business trips not only put the business traveller under stress, but they can also really drive up costs.

According to FCBT research, business travellers can pay up to 200% more for airfares purchased one day out from travel. Simply by booking flights in advance, companies can save up to 21% of their travel spend.

A professional Travel Management Company (TMC provides invaluable information on all the intricacies of travel bookings, which can help a company to save.

Explore interest-free credit facilities

Why put your business’ cash flow under pressure unnecessarily? Opting for an interest-free bill back service is a straightforward way to help save money and avoid having your travellers pay with their personal credit cards.

Instead of receiving receipts from all angles, or the business traveller paying with their card, the accounts department will receive one invoice showing the total travel spend.

Remember that time is money

You may think booking on your own cuts costs, but have you considered what the wasted hours trolling the Internet for the best price is costing you?

On average, recent surveys suggest business travellers spend 20 minutes reading hotel reviews before they book. “High-earning employees should not waste time trying to pick the perfect hotel or spend hours on the phone with airlines trying to rebook a ticket. Enrol a professional TMC to help with those travel requirements,” says Grunewald.

Travel is an essential component of growing any growing business, he concludes.