It’s probably fair to say the average employee is more stringent about finding deals when they’re paying for a trip versus when they’re booking it on company dime. It’s understandable - it’s not their money, and it doesn’t hurt their pocketbook. Many of them see it as an opportunity to splurge, even. But for companies worrying about a bottom line, those perks can rack up over time, making for a costly business expense account.

Many companies have tried to limit costs by imposing strict rules on travellers, including things like asking employees to share rooms in hotels, but few things can turn an employee off more than a company being unwilling to pay even for basic amenities like privacy. Rather than counting pennies and nickels strictly, companies looking to cut down on costs should look at ways they can alter methods of booking travel to reduce costs in a way that satisfies both employees and employers.

Provide financial incentives

Google figured out that employees need a financial incentive to care about keeping expenses down pretty quick. The company launched a program called Rocketrip that encourages employees to search for cheaper hotels and tickets in exchange for gift cards to popular businesses. The program can help companies reduce costs by up to 50 percent by incentivizing employees to sacrifice amenities on company dime for personal reward. Employees feel like they gain something from the program, and understand the benefit it provides to the company as well.

Make it easy to plan a trip

Creating a clear travel policy, including how far ahead an employee should book a trip and what deals or rates an employee should look for, will help clarify what employees should do in order to minimize costs with little struggle. Get them cheap flights with a company like Fareboom. Companies often direct employees to minimize expenses without offering comprehensive recommendations, rules or tips for doing so. But having a clear travel plan in place - and taking steps to enforce it - helps employees understand what exactly is expected of them, rather than give them a general concept to follow with no hard numbers to stick to.

Negotiate corporate rates

Perhaps the best way to ensure your company travel costs stay down is to try to take the work out as much as possible and pre-arrange the trips yourself with partnerships that offer corporate rates to employees. Develop a relationship with an airliner and a hotel line that offers satisfactory service in exchange for a contract and a corporate rate, and advertise the negotiated rate with your employees.

Make sure you consider costs by location as well. Per diem expenses should be adjusted to accommodate the expenses of wherever an employee is travelling, rather than set at one rate across the board. If employees don’t use corporate deals, companies struggle to keep them competitive and attractive. Make sure your employees are incentivized to use the rate by ensuring you select a service they’re willing to use. Don’t set a rate at the cheapest budget motel around, for example - look for comfortable accommodations.

Keeping the travel expenses down without making unreasonable requests of your employees is a fine line to walk for most companies, but it can be done. Give your employees motivation to help you keep costs down by providing incentives in return.

Author's Bio: 

Jeremiah Owyang is an internet entrepreneur with a background in taking young startups to their next stage of growth.