In the constant drive to save cost and create new efficiencies, are businesses wasting time, money and resources on needless meetings? Independent Specialist Adviser for Innovation and Sustainability Jonathan Churchman Davies investigates solutions to reduce corporate travel expenses.
There is no shortage of corporate goals linked to efficiency – margin, headcount, CO2, mileage to name but a few. The problem lies in deciding which efficiency measures should be prioritised and resourced. The best ones are those which hit several hot buttons at once and I’d like to touch a particularly problematic one – management travel.
How Can We Reduce Corporate Travel Expenses?
We know that the overhead cost of travelling to meetings is enormous – time, fuel, hotels, subsistence and inflated road risk. In fact the time actually spent in a meeting is frequently dwarfed by the travel time. Justifications for the overhead are usually plausible – for example: ‘It was a crucial meeting’; ‘It was a client meeting’; ‘I had several meetings so it was efficient’.
Sometimes these reasons will be valid – and sometimes not. Meetings should be for developing strategy, solving crucial problems, familiarising new teams and key communications with clients. Travel time, cost and risk are investments which demand sensible paybacks.
Many companies claim to be cutting carbon and being more sustainable through more use of video conferencing. Typical achievements look good, but I think that most could go much further. Claimed savings of around 10% appear frequently, whereas I think that this is unambitious and 25-40% reductions could be achieved. Delivering such a reduction requires strong business cases which must be crystal clear on both the savings and the effectiveness of the proposed solutions.
Electronic alternatives to face-to-face meetings may not only reduce lost time, they can actually improve meeting outcomes. This comes from more than just using tired old videoconference suites – it’s about changing the culture of management communications and building new relationships with clients.
If done properly, costs will plummet whilst results improve. Really? Yes. Really.
Is your business on an efficiency drive? Does it have a meetings policy? How does your business reduce corporate travel expenses? Share your experience with our community below.