Costs can escalate in an unfamiliar environment because often the easiest option is to choose convenience over cost-effectiveness. Experienced travellers discover cost-saving tips over the years. So here are some of the best tips from seasoned business travellers.
Accommodation is a major travel expense. Consider two main cost factors:
- Firstly, what grade do you really need? The difference between a five-star and a two-star room may be small, but the price difference could be a multiple of ten.
- Secondly, always ask for a discount. All hotels publish a “rack rate” of their maximum room charges when occupancy is high. These are negotiable – most hotels expect to reduce the price, especially late in the day, at quiet periods and for a business client who may spend heavily on the telephone and in the restaurant. In your negotiations, stress that you may become a regular client, and could recommend the hotel to colleagues and clients.
At the hotel
Hotels may offer a room discount, but hope to claw back profit from overpriced services. Take particular note of telephones. The handset in your hotel room usually carries a crippling surcharge. The modem point may also be surcharged. Your mobile phone may even be competitive with these, despite the network's roaming fees.
It can be cost effective to simply walk to the hotel foyer and use one of the call boxes at normal phone rates. Various international charge cards are worth considering. While fiddly to set up and often limited in the countries covered, they are very well priced.
Food and drink
Room service is convenient, but is the most expensive way of eating a sandwich. Save the cost of several meals and buy a take-away at a local shop.
Similarly, hotel restaurants are handy but quality and price is not always competitive. A hotel's apparently normal prices may in fact be ludicrous for the local economy. In cities, small snack bars often thrive on spin-off trade from expensive hotels nearby. Pay attention to the cost of breakfast – this is when you are most vulnerable to extortionate prices.
Convenience can cause costs you would never consider at home – and you may not be getting a superior service. A chauffeured car will give you time to work, but a taxi would do the same at a fraction of the cost. A hire car may seem versatile until you pay to park it overnight. Always consider the three cheapest ways of getting around: train, bus and walking. They may be the quickest too.