Why Business Travel Expenses Are Higher in 2023 And How to Control Them

The unpausing of business travel has made coordinating business travel trickier. Whether it’s a team offsite or an academic conference group, travel organizers might have seen higher than expected business travel expenses. The cost of hotels, airfare, and car rentals is up by 18% over 2019 as per the travel inflation index by Nerdwallet. Car rentals, in particular, stand out as a leading contributor to business travel expenses, and their cost has gone up almost by 50% compared to the pre-pandemic era. If you rely on car or bus rentals for group transportation, the higher costs in 2023 can disrupt your travel budget. 

Read on to learn more about what’s causing the rise in travel expenses and the steps you can take to avoid paying a premium.

The bus driver and labor shortage in the industry 

A severe shortage of drivers across the transportation industry is the primary cause of rising travel costs in recent years. Many bus operators have increased their charter bus rental prices to compensate for the higher wages to retain and attract drivers or for additional shifts. Bus.com often helps operators fill up the driver gap. However, on-call drivers typically charge higher fees which can inflate business travel expenses. Here are some hidden costs of driver and labor shortages that businesses may need to pay this year.

  • Increased per-head cost of travel as agencies raise ticket prices 
  • Hiring and training costs for new driver recruits 
  • Vehicle maintenance costs as fewer vehicles are in operation due to the driver shortage 
  • 15.2% higher hotel prices compared to 2019 due to labor shortage in the hospitality industry 

Higher fuel costs driving business travel expenses  

Gasoline prices have declined from their peak of 2022 in the recent month. However, in 2023 they are still averaging $3.50 per gallon or roughly 35% higher than the average costs in 2019. As a result, companies or private groups organizing transportation for business or events can expect higher reimbursement bills or invoices from charter bus providers. Rising fuel costs are also a primary driver of the increase in costs of taxi and ride-hailing services across the country. NYC taxi regulators, for example, raised the prices of the iconic yellow cabs in the city by 23% in 2022 to fulfill the needs of the cab drivers dealing with higher inflation and fuel prices. If your group is traveling to the Kennedy Airport for a conference in the big apple, you now pay a flat $70 instead of $52. Not to mention the $5 surcharge in the peak hours. For a large group with a complex itinerary, these kinds of unplanned costs end up inflating the business travel expenses. 

Tips to control business travel expenses 

  • Take group shuttles to control costs 
  • Plan your trip ahead of time
  • Be strategic about the travel modes
  • Plan your business travel with experts 

While travel coordinators may find it hard to control budgets due to the factors we  have discussed, there are ways to control business travel expenses. For example, while the charter bus costs have also increased, they can still help reduce the per head cost for larger groups. In addition, taking the private shuttle bus can help you avoid the invoicing and reimbursement hassles associated with private car rentals or taxis. 

Another surefire way to reduce business travel expenses is to plan your trip as early as possible. Bus.com booking specialists recommend booking your trip three to four months in advance. CheapAir.com also recommends a  46 to 162-day window to book your airfare. 

It may not always be possible to plan your trip ahead of time, but you can find strategically the best travel option to reduce your business travel expenses. For example, booking a school bus as a charter can be significantly cheaper during the summer vacation or during spring break. On the other hand, booking a coach bus can be more reasonable in the winter months across the Northeast as leisure travel slows down. 

Last but not least, planning business trips or event itineraries can be overwhelming, and it’s always good to rely on experts! Bus.com booking specialists routinely untangle complex travel or team commute plans and have keener insights into the factors that can inflate your business travel expenses. Our team can be your best travel coordination resource for upcoming conferences, team shuttles, or event shuttle bus needs! 

Planning business travel on a budget? Let’s talk!

Contact our booking specialists to estimate your upcoming business travel needs.