Business travel: Three reasons to loosen the purse strings

If you’re a business owner or CEO, you will likely be constantly aware of the need to control your costs. By keeping costs low, you can generate higher profits— it’s one of the most fundamental rules of business.

It therefore naturally follows that when it comes to considering options for corporate travel, the desire to keep costs low can be intense. After all, you’re so accustomed to making do and cutting corners so as to contribute to the quest for higher profits, it’s tempting to just travel on a budget. After all, the more you spend on travel, the higher the business outgoings are going to be, and the less you’re going to earn in dividends— so it’s worth putting up with a little inconvenient travel to avoid that, isn’t it?

Maybe not.

#1 – Travel is about status

When it comes to travelling as a business owner or CEO, it is undeniable that some element of your travel plans should take status into account. While there are plenty of other reasons to travel in style (as we’ll be discussing throughout this article), the status requirement is unavoidable.

The simple fact is that everyone expects high-status, respectable business people to travel in certain conditions. Few of us can imagine Bill Gates jamming himself into a coach seat, or Elon Musk cooped in the corner of a Greyhound bus as he travels cross-country. The world expects successful people to travel in a certain way.

If you’re going to a business conference, to meet a client, or to pitch to a new company, it may seem like it doesn’t really matter how you arrive. If you get there, then they’re not going to know how you travelled, are they? Well, the reality is that they might, especially if you have to postpone the meeting because your flight was delayed.

#2 – The convenience aspect

As touched on above, the convenience aspect of corporate travel is one that cannot be underestimated.

Think about how world leaders and business tycoons travel. From the Prince Sultan of Brunei to UK Prime Minister Theresa May, to Mark Zuckerberg— they all use some form of special transportation. While in some part this is about status, their travel needs also have to take into account the convenience and reliability aspect. If the Sultan of Brunei agrees to attend a summit, he needs to be at the summit; you can learn more about the prince’s private jet and see how he achieves this. If Theresa May is heading to Brussels for another meeting about Brexit, then she can’t be late; if Mark Zuckerberg is heading to Silicon Valley to discuss the latest statistics, he needs to be sure he can get there— and so on and so forth.

The travel choices of the rich, famous, and powerful aren’t just about travelling in luxury; they’re also about ensuring that important people get where they need to be. This is something you have to take into consideration when planning your own travel. If you’re heading to a big meeting or conference, then you need to ensure you’re going to get there. The simple fact is that the more you pay for travel, the more likely you are to be able to arrive at your destination on time.

For example, if you decide to fly coach or grab a bus to an important meeting, you’re at the whims of the transport system. If there’s a delay, there’s nothing you can do about it; you’re just going to be stuck, waiting for your fortunes to change. If, however, you charter a plane or take a business taxi to your destination, then the process is far smoother and far less subject to difficulties. This is something you have to keep in mind when booking your travel; yes, money matters, but actually getting to where you need to matter more.

#3 – The cost of potential delays

The delays you can suffer should you choose to travel by cheaper options are bad enough in terms of actually making your appointments on time, but they can also be costly. This, obviously, defeats the objective of travelling on cheaper options; they can ultimately end up costing more.

Here’s an example of how this can play out:

You and three colleagues need to travel from New York to Los Angeles for an important meeting at 3 p.m., so you book a flight with a standard passenger airline. The flight leaves at 8 a.m., so you have plenty of time to make the trip. It costs $400 per person.

When you arrive for your flight, you discover there is a delay, and the airline cannot guarantee that you will be able to fly that day at all.

You cannot miss this meeting, so you have no choice — you have to book the second flight, at last-minute hiked prices, with another airline. These tickets could potentially cost up to $1,000 each, and you’ll have to pay this in addition to the $1,200 you have already paid. You may be able to obtain a refund on the first flights, but it’s unlikely. You’ve also suffered a huge amount of stress, anxiety, and delay, which is far from ideal on a day when you have a number of important business meetings. Suddenly, your cheap deal has actually turned out to be costly in a number of different ways.

The cost of chartering a plane would have been more expensive, but it would have been far simpler, and it would have taken off on time. You could have taken the time to find an “empty leg” flight that worked with your schedule. An empty leg flight is a circumstance when private and charter aircraft would otherwise be flying empty, so flight costs are hugely discounted as a result, so there’s a real potential for bargains if you can organize your trip around these flights.

With private and charter planes you know the money is spent on a service that will be genuinely beneficial, and that you’ll be able to use. The same cannot be said for cheap standard carrier flights, which will always have an element of jeopardy to them.

In conclusion

No business owner or CEO wants to spend a fortune on travel, but the truth is, it can be worth it. Loosening the purse strings to ensure you get where you need to be, when you need to be there, is ultimately a good business decision. It might not come naturally, but in life, you tend to get what you pay for. If a trip is important to your business, then saving money shouldn’t be your first consideration; furthering the progress of your business should always be your number one influence on the decisions you make.

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