Reducing Meal Expenses for Business TravelersBy Emily Parker-Woodland
When you take the time to write up a business travel policy, it’s often hard to figure out what parameters to set around meal expense reimbursement. You want to make sure your team is well fed and well rested on the road, but you don’t want them overspending company money just because they are in an unfamiliar city. We’ve got some tips to get them thinking about how they spend money while on the road.
Just like hotel room pricing, the cost of food varies across different cities. Don’t set one price guideline across all of their travel. Make sure you are allowing your employees to spend the right amount of money depending on where they are traveling. The GSA offers a tool that your employees can use to look up the current amount a person should expect for meal expenses and incidentals based on their city. Have everyone do a search for their city before they leave so they know the right amount to spend. For example, in New York City employees should spend up to $76 per day on meals. In Boston, it’s recommended to spend $71, and in Atlanta it’s $66. While it may seem like a small amount of money between each city, it adds up quickly. If each employee is spending $10 less in Atlanta, and 20 of your employees travel to Atlanta this year, that's a $200 savings right there.
There’s a lot that goes into choosing a hotel, no matter what kind of travel you are doing. But when it’s for business, there are certain features that will help when it comes to reducing meal expenses.
- Free breakfast: This could be continental or a larger buffet offering. Either way it takes away an entire meal’s cost from their daily rate and gives them a convenient option that they don’t need to go out of their way for.
- Kitchenette: For longer stays, have your employees book a place with a kitchenette, that way they can cook their own meals for some of their stay. Homewood Suites offers a kitchenette in every room, Staybridge Suites has kitchenette options and a free daily breakfast buffet, and Residence Inn gives you a kitchenette, breakfast buffet, and grocery delivery! Business travelers can call in advance to have groceries waiting in their room when they arrive.
- Mini-fridge: For times when there isn’t a hotel with a kitchenette available, make sure there is at least a mini fridge in the room. If your team goes out for lunch or dinner and has leftovers they’ll be able to store it for later, which means they are eliminating extra meal expenses.
A little planning can go a long way towards making the whole travel experience better, especially when it comes to where your travelers will eat while on the road. There are a few things they should check out before they leave.
- Nearby grocery stores: If a traveler already knows where the closest grocery store is, they will be much more likely to do some shopping there instead of eating out at a restaurant for every meal.
- Nearby restaurants: After your traveler searches for how much they should be spending per day on meals, have them look at restaurants near their hotel or meeting space. If they find a few restaurants with pricing in line with what they should be spending, it will be a lot easier for them to stay on budget when they arrive.
What do you do to help your employees to reduce meal expenses? Tell us in the comments!
Looking for more money and time-saving tips? Check out our ebook, “How to Simplify Your Company’s Travel Expenses.”