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Ridiculous things your company has done to reduce travel expenses

Ridiculous things your company has done to reduce travel expenses

Old Aug 22, 12, 5:06 am
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Ridiculous things your company has done to reduce travel expenses

After reading this thread, I can't help but wonder: what ridiculous things has your company done to try and reduce travel expenses?

My anecdote won't be the most ridiculous thing in this thread but here goes:

A large AE firm that I used to work for had the engineers that needed to travel research their flight, hotel, and car to find the absolute lowest price and then call the company travel department with that information to make the reservations. Travel was also expected to be on your own time.

I didn't stick around there very long.
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Old Aug 22, 12, 5:13 am
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Fly easyjet when possible, no other cabin class but discount economy. I work for a top 10 list electronics company. Cost saving is everything.
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Old Aug 22, 12, 8:43 am
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The most ridiculous things my former company did to reduce expenses were ridiculous because they did NOT reduce expenses. Examples:

Enforcing travel only on approved airlines, like United, Continental, etc. Southwest, Maxjet, iFly and other LCC's were not on the approved list and not allowed.

Enforcing bookings only at the list of approved hotel chains. That meant that if there was a conference in the city at the same time you travelled so you couldn't find bookings close to the client site, you had to stay at the Embassy Suites 30 miles away from the client site instead of a Travelodge across the street.
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Old Aug 22, 12, 9:07 am
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A couple of acquisitions ago when my employer was a 200 person company, all travel was handled by a late middle-aged admin assistant who had never traveled in her life. She planned out travel by choosing only the cheapest flights online, regardless of timing, duration, or routing. Rental cars were always from off-airport off-brands like Advantage or Fox. Insofar as hotels, one of her lines is still famous in my group: "Do you know how hard I work to find you guys adequate one star hotels for under $75?".

When we switched to Orbitz for Business (Which is complete crap, btw...), I nearly fainted. Our travel costs really didn't go up by much, either.

Ironically, she still works for us in a different capacity, and always regales me with tales of the good old days when she took care of us and planned all of our travel.
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Old Aug 22, 12, 9:17 am
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Having an accountant go through travel reimbursement requests and check whether meals or snacks were provided on flights, to make sure that if there had been food provided on board, the person could not also be reimbursed for the same purchased meal, even with receipts for the meal that were less that the per diem. (Obviously this was before the days of buy-on-board food in coach.) I can't imagine someone wasting time researching whether particular flights had meal service. The policy also left no room for situations in which the person could not eat the food provided on board (for instance, food allergies), there were catering mistakes, or an upgrade occurred at the gate, after the traveler had already purchased food in the airport in anticipation of sitting in coach with no meal.
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Old Aug 22, 12, 11:10 am
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Sent multiple people to a conference but could only attend 1 day (day trip SLC->LAX), then each person had to pick a different day so a single badge for the conference could be used.

A colleague and I protested and said we would be going for two days each, renting a car (cheaper than a taxi), stay with friends/family. Our boss said okay as he did not agree with the policy.
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Old Aug 22, 12, 11:26 am
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Lowest cost carrier, no choice. No alcohol with meals unless a customer is with you. No one in the company could tell me how much this move would save.
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Old Aug 22, 12, 11:45 am
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Originally Posted by timfountain View Post
Lowest cost carrier, no choice. No alcohol with meals unless a customer is with you. No one in the company could tell me how much this move would save.
I think the no alcohol except with customer is a fairly standard restriction.

My favorite one involved a conference to which we commonly send 20 or more people. The year it was in DC our unit head discovered that it was something like $30 cheaper to fly to BWI instead of DCA and wanted us all to do that. He, of course, was booked into DCA so there was pretty much a mutiny and we won. (He also typically stays at the Ritz, but that's another story.)
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Old Aug 22, 12, 11:52 am
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A former client required employees to share hotel rooms at conferences, annual sales meetings, etc. While many of the employees were friends & accepted that this was the way it was, many others were uncomfortable with the policy. Senior executives were exempt from the requirement. As an external PR contractor it was once suggested I share a room with a journalist at a company event. I said it crossed the line of professionalism and fortunately they took my counsel and gave the journalist her own room.

Another client had a policy that the company jet could only be used if 3 or more people were traveling, so I went on a number of trips that perhaps weren't necessary for me to go on just to fill the quota. First world problem, I know.

I've also been told I attended dinners as a phantom guest when the bill went above the company's per-person limit & names were required on the expense report. Nobody ever bothered to check.

Last edited by PRWeezer; Aug 22, 12 at 12:02 pm
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Old Aug 22, 12, 12:07 pm
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Originally Posted by PRWeezer View Post
I've also been told I attended dinners as a phantom guest when the bill went above the company's per-person limit & names were required on the expense report. Nobody ever bothered to check.
This is one reason that we're required to submit an itemized receipt.
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Old Aug 22, 12, 12:08 pm
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Originally Posted by timfountain View Post
Lowest cost carrier, no choice. No alcohol with meals unless a customer is with you. No one in the company could tell me how much this move would save.
Wow, the no alcohol restriction seems very draconian. I'm glad my company doesn't restrict that. I love to have a beer with my meals when traveling. They will pay for that. I suppose if I sat in a bar and ran up a tab on just alcohol, they would probably not pay for that. But I haven't tried that, nor would I. That would come out of my own pocket.
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Old Aug 22, 12, 12:15 pm
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Originally Posted by rwmiller56 View Post
Wow, the no alcohol restriction seems very draconian. I'm glad my company doesn't restrict that. I love to have a beer with my meals when traveling. They will pay for that. I suppose if I sat in a bar and ran up a tab on just alcohol, they would probably not pay for that. But I haven't tried that, nor would I. That would come out of my own pocket.
Sadly, I have been told of cases by my HR director where people drank bucket loads on the company dime and then sued them when they were fired for being drunken lushes because the company was facilitating their behaviour unchecked.
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Old Aug 22, 12, 1:07 pm
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Ponder for several weeks whether travel can be approved until the very last moment. At which point the ticket is more than twice as expensive as it was several weeks before.
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Old Aug 22, 12, 1:53 pm
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There was the time when the company decided that people were taking advantage of their good nature, and required manager sign off for every single line item on an expense report. Then they changed it to 'line item approval for exceptions' where the 'exception' numbers seem to have been taken from the 1930s because they were absurd (dinner in central London for 8 anyone????) So of course, management blindly approved anything and everything that looked reasonable enough. Then when they realized that no one was paying the blindest bit of notice, they started insisting on reasons being typed up for the exceptions (at which point we c&p the same 'business critical need' or 'essential Project Revigo expense' etc. aka meaningless rubbish!)

We also had 'checks and balances' (as you should, within reason) which meant that anyone reporting to the CFO directly had to get CEO approval on expenses to avoid any possibility of collusion. Fine... except when you realize the CEO has to approve not only the $6000 flight, but also, and separately, the $4 coffee at the airport, the $25 on gas for the rental car, the $5 parking metre charge, etc etc. One would think a 'reasonableness' test of $X for 'A 7 night business trip to Europe' would suffice rather than a line by line approval (which everyone knew his secretary did anyway, which made it a complete joke!)
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Old Aug 22, 12, 2:01 pm
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Originally Posted by jcwoman View Post
The most ridiculous things my former company did to reduce expenses were ridiculous because they did NOT reduce expenses. Examples:

Enforcing travel only on approved airlines, like United, Continental, etc. Southwest, Maxjet, iFly and other LCC's were not on the approved list and not allowed.

Enforcing bookings only at the list of approved hotel chains. That meant that if there was a conference in the city at the same time you travelled so you couldn't find bookings close to the client site, you had to stay at the Embassy Suites 30 miles away from the client site instead of a Travelodge across the street.
Yup, I call it "enforcing the company travel policy." Hotel across the street from the conference that costs half as much? No good.

Truthfully, I've always worked for bosses who had more common sense than that when it came to travel, so I never had a problem when I "misunderstood" the travel policy.

My wife once had a job where, not only did the admin go through her cell phone bill to subtract out personal calls but she also determined the proportion of minutes used for personal calls and applied that to the taxes.

Mike
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