Affordable Cheap Travel Insurance

In today’s modern world, taking the time to purchase a quality travel insurance plan is a must before departing on any major trip. Travel insurance protects you from a number of costly problems that may occur while traveling, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, and theft. You certainly don’t want to find yourself paying thousands of dollars for something as simple as a missed flight, so it’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to shop around and find a comprehensive plan. It can be difficult to find affordable travel insurance plans, but shopping for cheap travel insurance online will help you save a lot of money while still getting the coverage you are looking for.

The best thing about shopping for travel insurance online is that you can browse a number of different plans and packages all from the comfort of your own home or office. There are sections on most insurance websites that allow you to learn more about the company and familiarize yourself with its purpose and goals, so that you know you are working with a reputable business. Most companies are also willing to provide cheap travel insurance quotes at no cost to you, and will give you the option of speaking with an experienced insurance representative who can answer any question that you may have.

One thing that you may want to decide before looking for quotes is what type of coverage you are looking for. Depending on the length and destination of your trip, you may only need a standard plan that covers issues such as hospital expenses, dental emergencies, and accidental damage to another person’s property. However, if you’re planning on being out of the country for a long period of time, you may need a larger plan that covers travel delays, cancellation fees, and theft of cash. It all depends on how far you are traveling and how many travel risks you will be exposed to.

Many Australian travel insurance websites also offer customers the option to go through an appeal process if they are not happy with the outcome of their claim, which ensures that customers receive a fair deal when working with insurance companies.

The next time you are planning a major trip, consider utilizing the services of an online travel insurance website. Simply entering the phrase “travel insurance Australia” into any major search engine will provide you with a number of quality insurance websites to choose from. You are guaranteed to receive fast and friendly service, as well as be presented with a number of affordable options and rates. When it comes to cheap travel insurance, online companies are definitely the way to go!

Credit Crunched – Getting Cheap Travel Insurance on a Budget

As the economic downturn starts to bite, most people are looking to trim costs wherever they can. Of course, people still want to enjoy their holidays, but finding budget deals and cutting unnecessary holiday expenses has become more important then ever before. Naturally, this thrifty attitude extends to travel insurance.

It can seem like just another irritating expenditure, but comprehensive travel insurance is vital to keep you financially protected against unforeseen events. But there’s no reason to pay any more than you have to – if you want to get the best deal on cheap travel insurance this year, just follow these steps…

Don’t Skip It!

The easiest way to cut down on travel insurance costs would seem to be simple enough – don’t buy it in the first place. But that’s a potentially expensive gamble to take – cancellation costs, medical bills and the theft of valuables are very expensive mishaps if you are uninsured. If you know how to buy it on the cheap, travel insurance won’t add much to the cost of your holiday, and it could well save you a tidy sum if something goes wrong.

Avoid Travel Agents

Travel agents and tour operators will often try and throw in travel insurance as part of your holiday package. It may seem convenient just to say yes and to get it done in a single go, but be careful – buying from a travel agent is usually far more expensive than getting your holiday insurance from a specialist provider.

Shop Around

Securing a bargain with your travel insurance is just like buying anything else – the trick is to shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal. Luckily, this isn’t nearly as onerous as it used to be, as various price comparison sites can let you compare dozens of quotes in just a few minutes. Don’t stick with one insurer out of habit – just because they gave you a good deal on one kind of holiday doesn’t necessarily mean they can offer you the best deal on your next trip abroad. Make sure you check the market to be certain of getting the best deal on your holiday insurance.

Know What You Need

The more you pay for your travel insurance the more protection you get – very cheap travel insurance usually won’t cover expensive personal items or risky activities. If you are going abroad to lie on a beach and are taking nothing more valuable then some clothes and toiletries, the cover you need is very basic, and you should make sure you aren’t paying for unnecessary extras. Of course, if you are taking plenty of valuables with you, or are going to take part in some higher risk sports and activities, you need to be covered. Just make sure your travel insurance covers what you need, nothing more, nothing less.

Travel insurance has to be bought, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Follow these tips and shop carefully for your cheap travel insurance, and you could be amazed at the amount you could save on your next trip abroad.

How To Find Cheap Travel Insurance That Suits Your Needs

If you travel around the world a lot, you should make sure you find cheap travel insurance policies. Since you travel a lot, you can get really low cost insurance plans by purchasing an annual insurance policy rather than trip by trip policies. The goal is to get plenty of coverage you might need without having to pay much for your insurance plan.

A good idea may be to watch out for overcharging travel agents. Many travel agents make up for low airfare commissions by trying to sell insurance coverage at exorbitant prices. But, there are also some travel agents that provides cheap travel insurance, particularly to their frequent customers who are interested in purchasing annual low cost insurance policies. You just need to make sure you know what you need your policy to cover. For example, even their cheap travel insurance policy should at least cover lost baggage, flight cancellations, and emergency medical expenses.

You should spend some time doing research about what you need and what is a fair price to pay for it. Then you will know if your travel agent is giving you a fair offer or if you need to buy somewhere else. The Web is an excellent place for research and comparison shopping. There are numerous websites that offers some low cost travel insurance comparison shopping options.

If you do go with an annual insurance plan, you will want to make sure you don’t start your coverage date until your next trip. Otherwise you will be paying for all of the time leading up to your next trip even though you aren’t traveling.

Don’t forget to read the fine print on your cheap travel insurance quote. While price is important, it isn’t as important as whether or not you’re getting the coverage you need. If you aren’t getting the coverage you need, you’re better off not paying for coverage at all. When you’re buying an annual plan it is particularly important to anticipate whether what you will need covered on all of your trips will be covered by the annual low cost insurance plan at which you’re looking.

Most often the cheapest couple of prices won’t be the plans that cover your needs. But you should still be able to find cheap travel medical insurance plans for traveling that covers your needs if you are diligent.

Getting Cheap Travel Insurance Fast

If you’re someone who likes to travel and enjoy the thrill of something new and different then you should realize that these day’s it’s a wise thing to consider getting travel insurance. Even better get cheap travel insurance.

Just because an insurance policy isn’t expensive doesn’t mean that you’re getting a bad policy. There are good cheap travel insurance policies out there and you can easily find them if you know where to look.

Getting a cheap travel insurance policy before flying to some other country helps the adventure to be more enjoyable. It allows you a lot of peace of mind knowing when Murphy’s Law strikes you’re covered. It’s foolish to think nothing can go wrong.

That sort of thinking is alright if your a teenager but not for adults. Something as simple as twisting your ankle getting off the tour bus can turn into a financial disaster.

Medical treatment abroad and hospital costs can be very expensive. And God forbid something serious happens. A medical evacuation can easily cost over $50,000. Many times ordinary medical insurance won’t cover the problem. Getting travel insurance as an extra security blanket is well worth the investment.

Obtaining a cheap travel insurance policy that’s worthy is easy these day’s by shopping around online. All you have to do is literally type in, “cheap travel insurance”, on your computers browser and hundreds if not thousands of insurance brokers will be made available.

Don’t just use Google. Be sure to check a few search engines like Yahoo, Lycos, MSN, or ASK. Also don’t be afraid to investigate insurance company’s that aren’t necessarily cheap. See what there offering and charging as a ruler by which to measure the cheap travel insurance company’s policy coverage.

Most cheap travel insurance policies will have a specified period of time the coverage will apply too. If not too much more in the expense it would be prudent to have the policy cover a few days more than planned. Just because your flight gets cancelled is no reason to worry if you’ve allowed some flexibility by extending the time length of the policy chosen.

During your online search you’ll discover sites that specialize in comparison shopping. Most times one needs to provide only pertinent personal information. After providing your personal information, you will be able to receive quotes from different insurance providers. This is by far the quickest and easiest way to compare and choose cheap travel insurance.

Travel insurance is costly these day’s because of the turbulent conditions which exist abroad in many countries. However, a cheap travel insurance policy can still be found on the internet simply because there isn’t an agent with his finger in the commission jar needed to put it together. A lot of times one can save as much as 20%. So you see, that’s already cheaper travel insurance.

An important thing to always take into consideration is the premium and the deductible. As most know the less the premium the higher the deductible. When putting your finances together for that vacation trip of a lifetime make sure the cheap travel insurance deductibles won’t be too high. If the deductible is too high it might make the insurance policy not even worth getting.

It can be a real balancing act when trying to determine which insurance policy is best. Even so modern technology has opened the door for opportunity’s never before available. With a little due diligence the right cheap insurance policy can be acquired that’ll remove any fabricated excuse stopping you from enjoying to travel.

Cheap Travel Insurance Doesn’t Mean Cutting Corners, It Means Cutting Costs

For those who budget to save, who research all their options in order to find the best deal out there…backpackers, students, low-income earners, or just those who are conscientious with their money, cheap travel insurance is what you need. Not only is it less than the rest, it will save you a whole heap more.

We all know that Murphy’s Law will kick in at some point, and a cheap insurance policy is the best and only way to make sure that losing your luggage doesn’t mean losing your peace of mind. With cheap insurance unfortunate events like lost or stolen luggage just result in pre-paid shopping trips and not a ruined holiday.

Whether it is for domestic travel or international travel, there is nothing more economically wise than ensuring you have a sound policies and that does not necessarily mean it needs to be an expensive one. Cheap travel insurance will give you the same essential cover that you are looking for without breaking the bank and what is more it offers policy options that do not assume you want those often unnecessary extras. With insurance policy you can tailor your insurance policy to your needs and to your budget. There are no boxes ticked for you, it is all up to you to decide.

Students and backpackers are exactly the groups of people who benefit most from insurance policies. Who wants to pay a fortune for luggage and gear that did not cost nearly as much as the premiums an expensive policy would demand you to pay? Cheap travel insurance can also mean more insurance, for those adventure seeking types sometimes spending that little extra to insure against long-shot broken limbs is well worth it, and in the case of insurance well within the budget. When intending to undertake activities like bungee jumping, sky diving, or white water rafting or even trekking in certain areas of the world; backpacker travel insurance or student insurance policies can keep you doing what you want to while keeping your parents off your back. All while keeping money in your pocket.

For those who are frequent travellers there are policies for cheap multi trip travel insurance and even annual travel insurance coverage which are all cheap insurance options that mean you save, save, save. Save money, save yourself the stress, and save that little bit extra for a small indulgence on your trips away. If you are not someone who is in need of annual multi trip travel insurance then cheap single trip travel insurance is also available at low costs and in forms that suit your preferences. Whether it is a policy covering you for overseas travel or simply for travel in Australia, for an entire year of travel or just a single trip can give you the cover you need at the cost you want. So get online and compare what is available so that when you do head off overseas or on your domestic trip you do so with insurance cover in place – you will have a far more relaxed and enjoyable holiday if you do.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler-centricity and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

full business itinerary details
up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are travelling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler-centric can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.