Most corporate travel planners know that unexpected travel expenses will happen. Plus, the amounts vary depending on the type of unanticipated fees.
For example, additional baggage penalties have become the most common fees business travelers experience and only sometimes anticipate.
Delays caused by weather have become the second.
Corporate travel managers must develop an affinity for attention to detail and organization. Otherwise, the unexpected can unravel quickly and worsen, leading to additional costs.
Thus, travel managers benefit from expecting the unexpected.
Corporate travel managers count unexpected travel expenses as those they didn’t budget for in their original travel plans.
Most travel plans consist of the following costs:
- Airline flights
- Ground transportation
- Meal allowance
- Per diem
Therefore, any fees deviating from the original trip plan budget become extra.
The average business trip cost $1,293 in 2019—however, the average rises when the unforeseen occurs.
Anything can happen one time. Thus, it’s wise to learn from it. Occurrences that happen two or more times require additional attention before they become trends and expensive errors.
Savvy corporate travel managers can prevent unforeseen fees. However, the weather, traffic, and inexperienced travelers can cause the most common unexpected travel expenses.
The most common extra costs include:
- Baggage fees
- Trip cancellations
- Overbooked accommodations
- Foreign transaction fees
Extra baggage fees start at $30 and go up to $200, depending on the number of bags and their weight. Trip cancellations can lead to $100 to $500 in excess costs.
Some cities require expensive ground transportation. Thus, travelers can quickly go over their budgets.
It’s tough to expect travelers to pack their lunches, and they commonly experience food cravings when confronted with food options at the airport, downtown locations, and hotel lobbies.
Therefore, it’s easy for travelers to go over their meal allowances since on-the-go food has higher markups.
Lastly, and probably the most expensive unexpected costs, are fees incurred from canceled or delayed flights. Companies should not expect their team members to sleep in the airports while waiting for standby flights.
Instead, it’s best to find them overnight at nearby accommodations. Since other travelers will look for cozy beds to sleep in, it will raise demand and prices.
Ideally, corporate travelers will call and notify their travel managers that they incurred extra fees during travel.
Therefore, managers should expect to receive a phone call.
Travelers might only have the bandwidth to notify their offices of the additional charges if they need authorization immediately. Thus, outline the steps team members must take while on the road.
For example, allow them to send a text, email, or instant message. Then, remind them to obtain proper documentation for each fee.
Next, take care of it. Travelers can place the cost on their company-issued credit cards. Managers can also allow them to add the fees to their expense reports for later reimbursement.
Proper documentation is vital for keeping the travel department’s books balanced. Travel managers run their departments, but they answer to company executives and work in tandem with the finance teams.
Even though team members incur unexpected fees, remind them to obtain documentation.
The good news is that unexpected travel expenses don’t happen too often. Winter 2022/3 has become an exception. The extended cold weather and Arctic freeze that hit even desert states like Nevada and California have led to barrages of canceled flights.
Exceptions aside, corporate travel managers can seamlessly overcome unexpected costs by preparing for them. For example, monitor the weather while planning travel.
New England experiences four seasons, including 60 to 120 inches of snow. Therefore, companies that send team members to Boston during winter should prepare contingency plans accordingly.
In addition, keep the company’s corporate travel policy updated. Then, ensure that travelers review it annually.
Effective corporate travel policies address frequently asked questions and common situations they might encounter on the road.
Savvy corporate travel managers have plans in place for unexpected travel expenses. Managers can handle them by setting aside part of their department budgets for emergencies. Then, obtaining the proper documentation from travelers to account for them.