I recently returned from a 2 day CPA conference in Toronto. Toronto is one of my favourite places. Lively, close to water, good transportation system, lots of options for food and shopping…and many opportunities to choose a cheaper alternative when it comes to travel and accomodation.
Many workers who are part of a professional organization are familiar with the fact that we need to fulfill a certain amount of professional development requirements on an annual basis. These courses can get expensive, but for the majority of the people it is a non-issue since their employer covers the cost.
….or is it?
Let’s take a step back and consider that our employers wallets are not necessarily bottomless. Although many of them sign the expense reports without blinking an eye, we should consider the impact of unnecessarily high travel expenses. Maybe we can reduce G&A for the company, improve the bottom line, and reduce the chance of layoffs, if we all take small steps to make travel and conferences less expensive. I heard of an employer once who cut free coffee to the staff during tough times…but still flew their executives business class. Really? Anyways, I digress.
Saving money on your travel expenses (without sacrificing comfort or service!) in 3 easy steps:
- Book AirBnB. The conference I attended had organized a preferred rate with a close hotel for $200 per night (plus taxes, plus hotel charges). I found an AirBnB one block from this hotel for $150 per night all in. This was for a 1 bedroom, non shared, apartment with underground parking, free wifi, and fully equipped bathroom and kitchen including a wide assortment of teas, coffee, juice and pop.
- Take Alternative Forms of Transit. Toronto recently opened the UP Train (Union-Pearson), which takes passengers from the terminal at Pearson airport to Union station, the centre of downtown Toronto. All in under 25 minutes for $12 one way. Honestly, why would you take anything other than this train? It’s fantastic. Toronto also has UBER, an alternative to taxi services. I took an UBER during my stay and it was 2/3 the cost of a taxi. Also, the driver was awesome and courteous and even returned one of the bags we left in his car. What a guy.
- Book early. Many conferences offer an early bird discount. Plan a bit ahead and book your conference during the window which provides this discount, rather than paying full price.
The above are three simple things that can actually save your boss a bundle. For those who are consultants, this is likely just everyday behaviours adopted in the face of a reality where you have to pay for all of your expenses. For those under the employee category, this is a chance to differentiate yourself from the average Joe and demonstrate your team player attitude.