Cheap flights: Seven top tips for cutting business travel costs

  • 17/06/2023
Corporate Traveller's seven top tips for cheaper travel.
Photo credit: Getty Images

Much has been made about the higher cost of travel as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and with the cost of everything on the rise, it pays to save money where you can.

This applies to business travel as well as family holidays and any other sort of travel as New Zealand businesses try and improve their bottom line.

Business travel is projected to rise globally by 188 percent in the next five years and many companies will be looking to get as much as they can out of their travel budgets.

The tricks companies use to save money on travel can often be used by anyone travelling, so the below advice could be helpful to non-corporate travellers, too.

Corporate Traveller is a SME travel management specialist division for Flight Centre Travel Group and its customer success leader Raychil Coutts provided the following eight top tips to Newshub:

  • Book flights on the quarter-hour or half-hour for cheaper fares
    Many veteran business flyers swear by this rule and they put this down to a classic case of supply and demand. Flights that leave on the hour are more costly, as they are booked more  frequently. For example, an executive assistant or travel booker might be instructed by  management to book a flight at 8am, and they will simply book a flight at that exact time. By booking flights 15 or 30 minutes either side of the hour, travel bookers can find a less busy,  and therefore more affordable, option. 
  • Book early-week flights
    Data shows that, on average, flights that depart on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday have been 12 percent cheaper than weekend departures. This hack will be useful for business travellers who have the flexibility to book early-week meetings. Late-week flights, while more expensive, come with other bonuses: a traveller may be paying more for a Friday flight, but they have the added advantage of tacking on a weekend away in that destination. 
  • Stick to one or two airline rewards programs
    It's tempting to sign up to every rewards program out there, but Corporate Traveller recommends maximising just one or two of the major ones and growing your membership status within them. The most covetable perks in these programs – such as the first pick of seats, additional luggage and business lounge access – are available for members that reach gold or platinum status, which is difficult to achieve across multiple programs. The major programs, such as Air New Zealand Airpoints and Qantas Frequent Flyer, allow you to accumulate and redeem points when flying with a broad range of alliance partners.
  • Stay close to the CBD
    Some people may think that staying somewhere away from the CBD can cut costs for hotels and restaurants. But in New Zealand, most suburban accommodation providers are motels that are not close to late night dining options or have onsite dining available for late night arrivals. The other factor to bear in mind is transport options. With public transport limited in some places, traffic being an issue in urban areas and a high cost for Ubers and Taxis, staying somewhere within walking distance of where you need to go can save time and money. If you are going to stay slightly further away, make sure there's good public transport options.
  • Bundle your trips
    Since the pandemic, many of Corporate Traveller's own customers have changed the frequency and length of their trips. While same-day trips were hugely popular in 2019, weekly trips are taking over, as businesses bundle several meetings in a single two or three-day trip – and occasionally a leisure trip tacked onto the end. 
  • Flexibility trumps loyalty for cutting costs
    Sticking to the same hotel group or airline because you're on a loyalty program can give you unique perks and deals but may not equate to cheaper travel over the year. Regularly compare prices with other travel providers to ensure you have the best value. Alternatively, set a cost cap for travel and allow your employees to pick their own hotels and flights. This gives travellers ownership over their business trips and better employee satisfaction, while ensuring costs meet an agreed rate. 
  • Join value-add programs and sign up to travel newsletters
    It's worth selectively signing up to hotel and airline e-Newsletters to keep on top of sales and discount codes exclusive to subscribers. For example, Qantas recently announced its Companion Sale - discounted rates on pairs of travel bookings - in its newsletter. Businesses can pass these offers to their travel management provider, such as Corporate Traveller, to book the special price on their behalf. A good travel management provider should also offer deals for its customers. Corporate Traveller's SmartStay program, for instance, offers exclusive hotel deals, with add-ons including free breakfast, late checkout, and upgrades where available.