How to Cut the Cost of Car Insurance

Less desirable and low value cars are cheaper to insure

When I was 17 I wanted to own a Ferrari and live life in the fast lane. Even if I could have afforded the car, then I could not afford the insurance to cover it. At 17 you are brand new to the world of driving and statistically you are more likely to make an insurance claim. Mixing high-powered cars with inexperienced drivers is not something car insurance companies are super-keen about, the chance of a claim shots through the roof with the price of the premium following it. When you are young and inexpensive, buy a low-powered, low value car to try and keep your car insurance premium to a minimum. If it is worth less then it will cost less to fix / replace when in your youthful exuberance you crash it. The same logic actually applies to everyone, the lower the value of the vehicle and the lower the car insurance policy will be in most cases. Sports and premium cars will always cost more to repair in an accident so the insurance will reflect this. New cars now feature myriads of anti-theft and driver aids that in many cases will help to reduce the cost of insurance so keep an eye on the spec sheet when looking at a new car. A good rule of thumb is that less desirable and low value cars are cheaper to insure.

Age is a concern

I mentioned it above and it bears repeating. Typically the younger you are the higher your car insurance premium. This is down to inexperience and the youthful belief that bad things will never happen to you. The statistics say otherwise, which is often a shock to an unsuspecting young driver who ends up in a crash wondering how it happened to him … Driving experience and age are usually linked and that leads to a method of reducing your insurance premium – whatever age you are you will benefit from advanced driving courses and many car insurers offer discounts for these qualifications. It may only be a five – 10 per cent saving for the course but on a premium of £ 1000 it's worth having the saving and it will stay with you for years, so it should be a good investment, not to mention make you a better driver.

Keep adding to the no-claims bonus

The more years you can accumulate without making a claim the better as most car insurers will offer a discount on your insurance for this. Effectively you are proving you are good business to have and because you have not made any claims then you are a good risk for them to underwrite. There's nothing you can do here but keep your nose clean and do not make a claim. If you own a low value vehicle and dent it parking, you'd be advised not to make a claim on comprehensive insurance because it would reduce your no-claims bonus, likely to be for a small amount of money and you may even end up paying for most of it depending on excess. In that case, provided you have not caused damage to any other vehicles or property, keep quiet, fix it yourself and your saving on no-claims bonus will be sweet the following year – in time, when you have built up three or more years no-claims bonus, you can actually protect your bonus, meaning even if you make a consequent claim you will not lose your bonus.

Convictions are not cool

If you are an inner-city teenager then an ASBO may be a badge of honor. Insurers are less impressed by convictions though, so it is best to avoid them if you can. Minor speeding offences are certainly not in the same category as serial killer though, so if you have a couple of points it will not be the end of the world or have a major influence on your premium depending on the insurer.

If you've got a garage, use it

What are garages for? If you ask the average person they'll probably say for storing all the kids' toys, the home gym, bikes, the freezer and tumble-dryer. I have news for you all; the garage is designed to house your vehicle when you are not using it. The fact that it puts a physical barrier between any opportunist thieves and your car is a real good thing and car insurance companies will recognize this and reduce your premium if you park in a garage overnight. Using your garage will save you money; it does not get any easier than that.

Anti-theft devices

Most modern cars come with immobilizer and alerts factory fitted and if you notify your insurer it will check to make sure they are to approved standards and will apply discounts if applicable. You can get other devices that slosh around in the passenger footwell until you park and then fix to generally your steering wheel or gear-stick. These are mechanical devices and some do attract further discounts if used, just do your homework before buying. Thatcham is the organization which grades security devices and generally a decent mechanical security device will feature its Thatcham approval very prominently along with any premium discounts you may expect, so choose carefully.

Use a reputable broker

Car insurance is very big business with around 30million + vehicles on the UK roads, so there is a wealth of car insurance companies to choose from. Ironically, the big names you are familiar with are probably in your head because of massive marketing campaigns on television, on-line etc. Regardless of the message, those marketing campaigns need to be paid for and that means they may not actually have the best rates, although the sheer scale of some of these businesses means prices will be due due to buying or underwriting power. The best advice is to compare a couple of different prices from different companies. Call the insurer and then call a comparable competitor and then possibly a small car insurance broker. Each one will ask you if you have a price already and you should tell them what it is. Usually if they want the business they know what to beat. The moment you get a broker saying they can not match the price then you are probably close to the best market price or else speaking with a broker that is not a specialist in the area.

A word of caution on price comparison sites

There are plenty of price comparison sites around which promise to drive the cost of your insurance policy down – Money Supermarket, Go Compare, Confused etc. They certainly do help reduce the cost of insurance as most of the major players are fighting for business on the same platform. Where these price comparison sites do not perform so well is actually advising you on the sort of policy that's best for you or your car. Would comprehensive be cheaper and more suitable than third party fire and theft? The point is you can not ask the price comparison site for any advice, that's where car specialist brokers have the edge. Compare it to buying a new house, would you buy one without a survey? You might and then when it subsides into the sea you'll be praying your insurance will cover it … the point is you should not buy insurance without talking with an expert either.

Pick up the phone

The internet is a great shopping and selling tool, you know my feelings on that from previous articles … but I suggest if you speak to a real person at a brokerage then you have a much better chance of getting cheaper car insurance . They can ask more questions, clarify your requirements and if needed they can even delegate the rate (set the price themselves) if they really want the business. There is no substitute for human contact, just make sure you speak to at least three different brokers to get a true comparison.

Got a nice postcode?

If you live in a postcode where there are few thefts and claims then your insurance premium will be lower than living somewhere that is a known crime hotspot. If you can afford it, move to a posh area and you'll benefit from lower insurance premiums. Not the easiest way to save on the cost of insurance for sure …

Mileage and use

The more miles you drive the more chance you have of being involved in a claim. It's simple statistics. The fewer shares covered, the less your insurance premium should cost. Do not tell lies though, if you exceeded the stated mileage by a distance then it could invalidate your insurance.

Married with kids?

Insurers like selling car insurance to married couples mortgaged and with kids and jobs. You are very easy to credit check and generally display responsible behavior which hints at a lower risk for the insurer. That can reduce your car insurance quote.

Do not modify your car

We all see the bling bling cars that haunt Supermarket car-parks late at night and if you like the tacky neon colors and loud exhausts is here here nor there – the fact is that any sort of modification is likely to hike your car insurance premium. Modifications can draw attention, invalidate warranties and in the case of loud exhausts, can also be illegal (if above the noise limit). If illegal, then it could invalidate your insurance as well. The fact is that car manufacturers spend a lot of time developing their products so they work well and if you modify them then it's all out the window and your insurer will be scratching his head wondering what he should charge – and it will almost always be more than a standard vehicle.



Source by Maurice Gertski

Virtual Operator Answering Services Streamline Your Switchboard

You're starting a business. But you do not have as much in your budget to spend as your corporate counterparts. So what can you do to streamline your expenses? One way to save money is by using a virtual operator answering service. With a little affordable outside support, you can negate the cost of a full-time receptionist, and you'll still offer excellent customer service.

When you're in the beginning stages of a business, you want to make decisions carefully. And there's no safer decision than outsourcing your calls to a well-recommended vendor. You'll get a network of professional people to answer your calls, and they're guaranteed to always be available for your business. Agents assist your callers through the early morning hours, during peak periods, and at night. They'll answer calls just as a full time receptionist would: using your company name. And your service forward your calls anywhere you happen to be. You could be commuting, working at your home office, or at your physical office, and virtual operator answering services transfer calls to your smart phone, home phone, or business extension. When you're unavailable to take calls, you can have your service operators forward messages to your e-mail, pager, voice-mail, or fax.

Every startup company wants to expand their customer and client outreach. Virtual operator answering services can make it easy for you to increase clientele in an organized way. If you sell products, your virtual services provider can be your shopper helpline! Your customers can call your toll-free number, and a live operator will help them place their order. Virtual agents can also answer questions about your products, offer discounts, or add customers to your mailing list. If you primarily provide services to clients, you can have virtual operator answering service book client consultations. Virtual agents access your calendar in real-time, and input the place, time, and date of your consultation. And if your clients call back to receive directions or verify the time of the appointment, operators look up and provide that information.

Starting out as an entrepreneur is exciting. But it's also stressful balancing your budget. So why not get affordable customer support? Virtual operator answering services can streamline your business, and even help you turn a profit. With all of these benefits, why should you wait? Call a virtual operator answering service to start service today!



Source by Rob Porter

20 Reasons To Lease Equipment

There are numerous benefits of leasing, a method of financing equipment which has been popular for many years. It provides some very unique benefits over conventional bank financing or an outright purchase, and here are 20 reasons to lease equipment.

1. Pay As You Use

Leasing highlights the utility value of the equipment. In other words, leasing provides the opportunity to pay for equipment as it is generating revenue for the company. No different than paying employees bi-weekly or monthly as opposed to pre-paying them for the next 2 or 3 years of work. Both are assets of the company, and it makes no sense to pre-pay for either.

2. Payments Are Fixed

In most cases, lease payments are fixed for the duration of the term. This has a major advantage over conventional bank loans or purchases from a credit where the interest rate are commonly based on a floating rate. Knowing in advance what the payments will be, facilitates ease of budgeting and reduces interest rate risk.

3. Longer Terms / Lower Payments

Many banking institutions will limit the term of a loan to 12or 24 months, at which time the rate and terms of the loan are re-negotiated. Based on the useful life of the equipment being leased, it is not uncommon the see fixed lease terms as long as 48 or 60 months. This in effect lowers the monthly payment at a fixed rate.

4. Obsolescence Protection

In this era of major technological advances, certain types of equipment purchased today, can be obsolete within one or two years. Most leases offer a provision to economically upgrade equipment within the last year of the lease contract thus giving the company a built in obsolescence protection. In addition, although the leasing company holds title to the equipment, the will generally allow the vendor to provide a trade in on the existing equipment.

5. No Down Payment

Conventional banking institutions will generally require a down payment of 10%-25% in order to undertake financing on most equipment. In a lease transaction, the entire amount is financed with only the first or first and last payment being required at the time of lease inception. In some cases where the financial strength of the company is not sufficient to support the amount being leased, a small down payment may be required.

6. 100% Financing

Traditional financing methods will frequently not allow soft costs such as installation, freight, maintenance, and software to be included in the loan. These must be paid directly out of working capital. A lease, on the other hand, will allow soft costs to be included, thus conserving working capital and allowing for a single monthly payment for the entire acquisition.

7. Fast And Easy

Depending on the dollar amount of the acquisition, a traditional loan may take many days and require approvals from higher levels within the financial institution. This can mean delays in getting the order placed for the much needed equipment. The credit process for a lease acquisition is generally much faster and can be as quickly as a few hours up to a couple of days. Again depending on the size of the acquisition.

8. Creativity And Flexibility

Banks are typically known for their creativity and flexibility. The are bound by the Bank Act which limits some of the things they can do to assist their client base. Leasing, on the other hand has evolved into a method of financing which focuses on the specific requirements of the client. Payments can be structured to accommodate irregular revenue streams during the year or set up to match payback on a piece of equipment that has a quantifiable monthly savings. Leasing is the ultimate form of creative financing.

9. Purchase And Renewal Options

At one time leases were structured in such a way that the only purchase option available was the Fair Market Value of the equipment determined at the end of the lease term. Over the years, the market has made it clear that they want a better define purchase price set out at the inception of the lease. As a result, most leasing companies will set a mutually agreed upon end of term purchase price at the outset of the lease. This can range from $1.00 to 25% and is often reflected in the monthly payment. In addition, the purchase option can again refinanced under a new lease contract generally over a 12 to 24 month term.

10. Conservation of Working Capital

In a recent industry survey, the number one reason for leasing equipment was conversation of working capital. By using lease financing, working capital is freed up to be used in the day to day operation of the business for things such as purchasing inventory, advertising, trade shows, and hiring employees. Essentially, leasing allows a company to reduce the amount invested in a depreciating asset, and use the money where it will generate a higher return.

11. Simplified Forecasting

Lease payments show up as an expense on the company income statement. Because payments are fixed and pre-determined at the outset of the lease, companies are able to intelligently forecast and budget into the future.

12. Capital Budgets To Operating Budgets

Within large organizations, capital acquisitions generally require a higher level of approval than operating expenses, and as a result take more time. A lease acquisition, being a monthly expense, will generally fall within an operating budget affording managers within various departments or business units to approve acquisitions of much needed equipment.

13. Tax Benefits

Because lease payments are treated as an expense on the income statement, the payments can generally be written off. Because each company has unique financial circumstances, and accounting firms which differ on the accounting treatment of a lease, it is suggested that the accounting firm be consulted prior to making a decision to lease on the sole basis of tax advantages.

14. Low Interest / No Interest Programs

From time to time vendors of equipment will offer time sensitive low or no interest marketing programs to help them sell slow moving inventory. It is prudent to watch for these types of programs or ask the vendor if they have any leasing incentives available.

15. Master Lease Agreements

A Master Lease Agreement is simply a document which contains all of the terms and conditions of the lease and is signed once and covers all future lease acquisitions. Generally a lease line of credit is pre-approved for a dollar amount which will accommodate anticipated acquisitions over a period of time. As equipment is acquired, a simple one page document is signed. This saves time and is effective in an expansion or a major project.

16. Preserve Bank Credit Lines

No company wants to be operating at the top of their credit line and are often reluctant to approach the bank for a credit line increase. It is prudent business practice to have funds available for unexpected events-a slow month or quarter, unpaid receivables, or an unexpected damage claim. The use of leasing creates a new credit facility without any effect on the banking relationship.

17. Hedge Against Inflation

Leasing allows for payment of in dollars, and in turn pay those costs incrementally in inflated future dollars, as the equipment is used.

18. Competitive Edge

Staying ahead of the competition often requires the latest and best technology. Leasing equipment lets you do the job more efficiently, more effectively, and more economically. In addition it provides the advantage of continually upgrading to latest available technology at a reasonable cost.

19. Sale And Leaseback

A Sale & Leaseback is a specialized lease transaction where the leasing company will purchase unencumbered equipment, at a fair market price from a company, and lease it back to them. It is a tremendous way of freeing up capital which is tied up in depreciated assets.

20. Enhanced Corporate Image

The vehicles in the fleet and the equipment in the production, all have an effect on the corporate image. Leasing allows assets to look new, fresh, and and create the image of a successful company.

In summary, leasing came about as a means to acquire equipment and it is no wonder that many equipment manufacturers have set up their ow leasing arms to help their customers acquire products in the most effective way. Leasing just make good business sense.



Source by Kelvin Johnstone

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

source: http://orlandomap.info/base-tendriling-travel-expenses



Source by Armansah HS