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The Cost(s) of Travel for Business

The Cost(s) of Travel for Business

You’ve been working on a huge deal for months now, and the client is finally ready to close.  They ask you to come in person to sign on the dotted line, that’s great – but what will it actually cost?

Sure, an Uber to the airport and to go breakfast sandwiches are hardly drops in the pond, (that’s not to mention that $300 celebratory scotch going on the company plastic) but how do you really quantify the meeting cost of traveling for a signature in the era of DocuSign and instant scans? 


Let’s set up a scenario: the cost of an out-of-state meeting for a single employee on a two night/three day business trip

  • Average Plane Ticket: $379
  • As of Oct. 1, 2015, high rate per diem for lodging is $207/night
  • As of Oct. 1, 2015, high rate per diem for meals & incidentals is $68/day
  • Average car rental (intermediate): $60/day

With these calculations, the total travel cost for this meeting is $1,173. Now let’s say this employee does two business trips a month, 12 months of the year. The total cost is over $28,000 for one person’s annual travel within the United States.

This doesn’t even include their salary!

Now let’s extend the map to a world wide discussion. The Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) releases an analysis of US travel and spending each year, and in 2014 found the following averages for international travel expenses:

  • Average Plane Ticket Abroad: $2,014
  • In 2014, the average per diem for lodging abroad: $197/night
  • In 2014, the average high per diem for meals & incidentals: $106/day

The average US business traveler stayed 9.2 days while abroad (we’ll round down for this exercise). This brings an average abroad business trip to: $4,741 (not including transportation costs once an employee is there, or their salary).


Now, let’s consider the costs that can’t be recorded in a expense report.

Being a Road Warrior has it’s perks – it can be even glamorous.  Employees can travel all over the world, immerse themselves in different cultures, try out the local cuisine, rack up frequent flyer miles and hotel points, all on the company’s dime.  But what does the wear and tear of travel do to a person?

According to this Fast Company article, the potential health costs on frequent travelers are plentiful, including: faster aging, weaker immune system, higher risk for obesity, and mental health issues. They also point out that the disruption of circadian rhythm (jet lag), can negatively affect a person’s mood, judgement, and concentration for up to 6 days. Additionally, frequent business traveling can take a toll on relationships among friends and families that are left at home.

Also consider who you are sending on a business trip, and what that may mean for your productivity at HQ. Can they work remotely? Will this push off an important project? Maybe consider sending less team members so the regular workflow goes undisturbed.

While there can be a lot of value to business trips, make sure you consider all the options and costs to make sure that it’s worth the investment for your company and your employees.


One of the ways companies are finding alternatives to dumping cash into traveling for meetings and keeping their employees happy, is to utilize Video Conferencing services. Camera and bridging technologies have become so advanced that a video meeting can be just as effective as meeting in person, and a lot cheaper. To read more on how you can save time and resources and still conduct quality meetings, contact one of the experts at Videonor, so they can customize a solution that’s right for you:


Madison Wright
madison@videonor.com

Jake Nelson
jake@videonor.com

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