Travel, Tourism & Events

Nine insider ‘hacks’ for cutting business travel costs

BUSINESS TRAVEL is continuing its growth, with a projected 188 percent rise in the next five years, according to research by Statistia on the size of the global travel market by 20281.

Alongside this trend, the costs associated with doing business, including travel, have also grown. In response to these trends, seasoned international business travel expert, Saskia Boxem, has nine ‘hacks’ to offer – from taking flights on the half-hour mark and early weekdays, to booking eight days in advance – to help businesses get more value out of their travel in the next financial year.

Ms Boxem is the NSW/ACT head of customer success for Corporate Traveller, the flagship small and medium enterprise (SME) travel management division of Flight Centre Travel Group.

“Part of our service is to create the best, most cost-effective travel management plans for clients,” Ms Boxem said.

“As travel experts, we know the tricks of the trade to secure the most convenient, cost-effective travel options for corporates that travel regularly. I’m pleased to recommend a few money-saving hacks that have been tried and tested by business travellers over the years. 

“Corporate Traveller has helped more than 6,500 businesses with their travel through a whole suite of offerings, from expert advice through dedicated travel managers and 24/7 support, to innovative booking technology and AI-powered travel assistants. Our team knows that, ultimately, service, efficiency and value are priceless for businesses, which is why many of these hacks will also improve the travel experience and save our client’s time.”

Nine insider hacks to cut costs on business travel:

1. Save up to 20 percent on airfares by booking 8-14 days ahead. Corporate Traveller’s own experience shows that the cheapest domestic airfares are those booked 8-14 days before departure. Airlines tend to release cheaper seats around this time to fill their flights. Given business meetings are often arranged one to two weeks ahead, this hack is more useful to businesses than leisure travellers. 

2. Book flights on the quarter-hour or half-hour for cheaper fares. Corporate Traveller’s veteran business flyers swear by this rule, and they put this down to a classic case of supply and demand. Flights that leave on the hour are more costly, as they are booked more frequently. For example, an executive assistant or travel booker might be instructed by management to book a flight at 8am, and they will simply book a flight at that exact time. By booking flights 15 or 30 minutes either side of the hour, travel bookers can find a less busy, and therefore more affordable, option.

3. Book early-week flights. Google Flights data shows that, on average, flights that depart on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday have been 12 percent cheaper than weekend departures (based on the Google blog How to find the best deal on your next flight)2. This hack will be useful for business travellers who have the flexibility to book early-week meetings. Late-week flights, while more expensive, come with other bonuses: a traveller may be paying more for a Friday flight, but they have the added advantage of tacking on a weekend away in that destination.  

4. Stick to one or two airline rewards programs. It’s tempting to sign up to every rewards program out there, but Corporate Traveller recommends maximising just one or two of the major ones and growing your membership status within them. The most covetable perks in these programs – such as the first pick of seats, additional luggage and business lounge access – are available for members that reach gold or platinum status, which is difficult to achieve across multiple programs. The major programs, such as Qantas Frequent Flyer, allow you to accumulate and redeem points when flying with a broad range of alliance partners. 

5. Negotiate prices across your travel suppliers every 24 months. Many businesses have a ‘set and forget’ approach to their travel policies. This year, Corporate Traveller has seen several policies that have not been updated since 2019. If you’re looking to reduce your business’s travel budget in FY24, it’s worth negotiating prices and scope of services with providers – such as hotels and car hire companies – set out in your policy. It may be worthwhile switching to providers that offer better value. Whichever way your business travel has changed over the past few years, you should have a travel policy to match it.

6. Use the ‘five-block rule’ to cut costs for city bookings. To save on hotels and restaurants in cities, avoid booking within five blocks of the CBD. When looking for an alternative, choose areas with good public transport and easy access back into the CBD. For instance, Corporate Traveller often recommends the Greenwood Plaza district of North Sydney as a convenient lower-cost location for business travellers, due to its plentiful and reliable public transport options, amenities, and proximity and easy access to the CBD.

7. Bundle your trips. Since the pandemic, many of Corporate Traveller’s own customers have changed the frequency and length of their trips. While same-day trips were hugely popular in 2019, weekly trips are taking over, as businesses bundle several meetings in a single two- or three-day trip – and occasionally a leisure trip tacked onto the end. 

8. Flexibility trumps loyalty for cutting costs. Sticking to the same hotel group or airline because you’re on a loyalty program can give you unique perks and deals but may not equate to cheaper travel over the year. Regularly compare prices with other travel providers to ensure you have the best value. Alternatively, set a cost cap for travel and allow your employees to pick their own hotels and flights. This gives travellers ownership over their business trips and better employee satisfaction, while ensuring costs meet an agreed rate. 

9. Join value-add programs and sign up to travel newsletters. It’s worth selectively signing up to hotel and airline e-newsletters to keep on top of sales and discount codes exclusive to subscribers. For example, Qantas recently announced its Companion Sale – discounted rates on pairs of travel bookings – in its newsletter. Businesses can pass these offers to their travel management provider, such as Corporate Traveller, to book the special price on their behalf. A good travel management provider should also offer deals for its customers. Corporate Traveller’s SmartStay program, for instance, offers exclusive hotel deals, with add-ons including free breakfast, late checkout, and upgrades where available.



[1] Global business travel market size 2028 | Statista

[2] How to find the best deal on your next flight (



Top travel perks for credit cardholders in 2023: Corporate Traveller analysis

THE RESURGENT demand for domestic and international travel has also seen a fervour in the accumulation of rewards points, according to business travel agency Corporate Traveller.

According to Corporate Traveller global managing director, Tom Walley, even as the cost of living and doing business continue to increase, there are “a plethora of exciting travel perks linked to rewards credit cards” already motivating business travellers to take advantage.

Mr Walley said staff at Corporate Traveller – Flight Centre Travel Group’s flagship travel management division for SMEs – had amassed a database of these loyalty offerings and were passing them on to business travellers who were using them to travel better and save money. 

“The domestic and international travel perks offered by rewards credit cards can save businesses and their travellers hundreds of dollars each year, while allowing them to get a little luxury into their trips without the cost,” Mr Walley said. 

“These perks include free flights and airport lounge access, restaurant credit and hotel rooms, travel insurance, and even concierge services.

“However, travellers should determine the offers that will be of most value to them – and crunch the numbers to work out whether these offers still provide value against sometimes higher interest rates or high annual fees.”

Corporate Traveller’s research has revealed eight perks for credit card holders looking to maximise their travel and destination experiences:

  1. Complimentary return flights.With airfares likely to remain high in 2023 before capacity returns to pre-COVID levels, some frequent flyers might be attracted to cards with offerings such as up to $450 in travel credit with major airlines or complimentary flights each year. However, cardholders should be aware of any higher-than-average costs associated with those cards. The American Express Velocity Platinum credit card includes one free return domestic flight with Virgin Australia every year and 21.99 percent interest[1] compared with the average credit card interest rate of 19.94 percent.[2] The American Express Platinum charge card offers $450 in yearly travel credit to spend on eligible flights, hotels, or car hire, [3] and comes with a $1,450 annual fee.
  2. Uncapped points. Many rewards cards put a cap on the points that cardholders can earn each month or year. Businesses with multiple travellers or high-spending directors, once they crunch the numbers and understand how many points they could accumulate, might consider switching to a rewards card offering uncapped points. An example is the NAB Rewards Business Signature Credit Card.[4]Rather than linking to a frequent flyer program, however, this card earns NAB Rewards, which can be redeemed for flights online.
  3. Dining credit.Another rewards perk is credit with overseas and domestic restaurant partners, which might appeal to travellers with a tight personal budget while travelling. The American Express Platinum charge card, for instance, offers up to $400 in restaurant credit at participating restaurants in Australia and overseas, but does come with an eye-watering $1,450 annual fee. [5]
  4. Earning points on taxes.Some credit cards offer points for tax payments – albeit at a lower awards rate. Businesses should weigh up the redemption value of those rewards with the credit card surcharge for tax office payments. For instance, the American Express Business Explorer card reduces its usual two points for every dollar spent offering to one point with the ATO and against a 1.45 percent surcharge for tax office payments.[6]
  5. Access to airport lounges.Airport lounges offer opportunities to relax or work productively while in transit, and many rewards credit cards offer access to lounges across Australia and internationally. For instance, the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card allows members to earn points across 26 airline rewards programs, providing access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide.[7] However, cardholders earn one Star Alliance point per $1 spent up to $3,000 per statement period, and just 0.5 points for every $1 spent thereafter. The Qantas Premier Titanium card offers new cardholders two complimentary Qantas First Class lounge passes at selected airports in Sydney, LA, and Melbourne annually[8] – but cardholders need to consider the $1,200 annual fee. The American Express Velocity Platinum cardholders receive two Virgin Australia lounge passes at selected domestic airports each year [9] – but it comes with a 21.99 percent interest rate and does not allow balance transfers.
  6. Travel insurance.Some rewards credit cards allow cardholders to save on travel insurance by offering a level of complimentary insurance. However, keep in mind there are limitations to a card’s insurance policy, and businesses should determine whether they require more comprehensive cover to ensure employees and business belongings are fully protected. For instance, ANZ Rewards Platinum[10] credit cardholders can access unlimited overseas emergency medical. It caps other cover at $50 for meals and $250 for accommodation in the event of travel delays; $4,000 for lost, stolen or damaged computers, cameras, and video cameras; and up to $1,000 for any other item. However, cover for rental vehicle damage is capped at $5,000. 
  7. Complimentary accommodation.High-earning travellers who frequent a preferred hotel or want to tack a personal trip onto a business trip might find value in complimentary accommodation. The Citi Prestige Credit Card[11] allows cardholders to get a fourth night free at a participating hotel, limited to four stays a year, keeping in mind there is a $700 annual fee from the second year and cardholders need to have a minimum $150,000 annual income.  
  8. No-fee frequent flyer membership.Some rewards credit cards waive rewards membership fees. The HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card, for instance, waives the $99.50 Qantas Frequent Flyer membership fee; however, cardholders are limited to earning 0.5 Qantas Points for every $1 spent after spending $1,000 in a statement period.[12]



 American Express Velocity Platinum Card,

[2] Compare the Market,

[3] American Express Platinum , 

[4] NAB Rewards Business Signature Card, 

[5] American Express Platinum, 

[6] American Express Business Explorer, 

[7] HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card.

[8] Qantas Money,  

[9] American Express Velocity Platinum,

[10] ANZ Rewards Platinum, 

[11] Citi Prestige, 

[12] HSBC Platinum Qantas, 


Illuminating how business travel can help navigate global challenges

HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham reveals key insights from his upcoming keynote talk at Flight Centre Corporate’s #Illuminate2022 conference


EVEN IN SPITE OF current global challenges of high inflation, supply chain disruptions and the conflict in Ukraine, one of Australia’s leading economists is forecasting that increased travel will be a silver lining for both the Australian and New Zealand economies.

HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham, whose area covers Australia, New Zealand and global commodities markets, has revealed insights from his upcoming keynote presentation at Flight Centre Corporate’s highly anticipated annual Illuminate conference on October 20, which returns as an in-person event for the first time since 2019. 

Mr Bloxham said travel would be a key factor shielding Australia from a hard landing potentially wrought by the slowdown of the global economy.

“Travel is going to be a bright spot in the current challenged world,” Mr Bloxham said. “Households spent less during the pandemic and the country’s unemployment rate has been at its lowest since the mid-1970s.

“As such, Australians have saved over $250 billion and are ready to deploy those funds,” Mr Bloxham said. 

“Now that the world is reopening, there is a strong appetite for travel among the population and we expect to see a continued increase in travel activity, particularly domestically. Australians are also starting to travel abroad again in large numbers.

“Corporate travel is reviving faster than leisure, with businesses returning to face-to-face contact, particularly at conferences and other events.”

Hosted by Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate brands FCM, Corporate Traveller, Flight Centre Business Travel, Stage and Screen, and FCM Meetings and Events, Illuminate can make claim to being ‘Australia’s premier annual business travel event that is free to attend’. This year, it will be held in person at The Venue in Sydney’s Alexandria and livestreamed nationally.

At the event Mr Bloxham will also share his deeper and more detailed outlook on the global economy and how Australia and New Zealand are faring against the rest of the world, amid the numerous challenges that have emerged this year. He said many of these challenges which had not been experienced since the 1970s.

“Globally, inflation rates are well above those we’ve seen in decades,” he said. “While inflation is running at around eight percent in US and nine percent in the Europe, its growth in Australia has fortunately been slower.

“We forecast Australia will avoid a recession, unlike some other countries,” Mr Bloxham said.

“Supply constraints are also a deep global issue, because of the impact of the pandemic, the Ukraine war, labour shortages and a shortage of shipping containers. Policymakers – central banks and treasurers – will need to tighten up policy settings to try and slow demand down.

Mr Bloxham said the interest rate increases introduced in Australia, and the subsequent decline in house prices, will help discourage households from spending to ease inflation.

“I anticipate consumer spending in Australia will slow from six percent to close to two percent next year,” he said. “Consumers will also redirect more of their spending to services, including travel and hospitality.

“While this will be a challenge for Asian economies because they are big producers of manufactured goods, Australia – which has a strong service-based economy – will be in better shape. Bringing international tourists back also ought to be a key focus for policymakers and will benefit the economy.

“Closing our borders was a successful strategy in managing the pandemic,” Mr Bloxham said. “However, it did do damage and it will take some time for international travellers to return.

“I expect a travel bounceback between New Zealand and Australia first – something we’re already seeing.”

Mr Bloxham also believes the Australian dollar will weaken further – predicting a fall to USD$0.63 by mid-2023 – which will encourage travellers to Australian shores.

“This will be attractive to international travellers, who may see us as a cheaper option for them, which will be helpful to the economy,” he said. “While it will be slower bringing international leisure travellers back over corporates, their return presents a great opportunity for local businesses.

“Ultimately, Australia’s economy is doing well. Spending is strong, the unemployment rate remains low and the labour market is strong.

“While we are operating beyond our capacity, and it is crucial we slow things down – travel is one thing we expect that people will choose to spend on,” Mr Bloxham said.

Mr Bloxham will present his insights at the Illuminate conference on October 20 at The Venue, Alexandria.

Also presenting key insights for Australian businesses at the event are Virgin Australia CEO and managing director Jayne Hrdlicka, Rex Airlines deputy chairman John Sharp, and Brisbane Airport CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff.

The complimentary event returns in a hybrid format this year and is expected to attract leaders, travel bookers and travel decision-makers from businesses of all sizes. Illuminate also offers guests opportunities for networking and strategising, along with entertainment and prizes for attendees.


Hotels are in for radical change to navigate post-pandemic world

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business

THE HOTEL industry will have to change dramatically to cope with post-pandemic labour shortages. 

Chris Adams, the CEO and founder of the Ellis Adams Group and his international luxury hospitality consulting firm EAG, which is currently opening 100 hotels during Q3 and Q4 of this year, believes the industry must urgently to offer better career paths and conditions for staff.

Mr Adams has the experience to back that assessment up, for his companies are partnering with Marriott International to transform locations for The Ritz-Carlton, St Regis, Westin and Renaissance brands, among others, all over the world.

He said hotels had tried different solutions the labour shortage issue. Some had thrown more money to get people to come back to the industry, while some had looked at bigger perks and better benefits. 

“I think the thing that is holding true for those who are finding success is the ones that are finding ways to cultivate a true foundation of looking after those that they bring on,” Mr Adams told Talking Business.  

“Yeah, everyone wants more money, I think that’s the easy answer. But those individuals who come back to our restaurants, hotels and what-not and when they believe we truly care about them and we’re looking at their future beyond getting us through this shift, and where are we helping you get through this three, five and 10 year career – and we truly care about you – those are the ones that are finding success and getting people to come back to their hotels and restaurants.”


Mr Adams said the mindset of people working in the hotel industry had changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the hospitality industry, people work long hours at all hours of the day, during times when others are catching up with the family or relaxing doing the things they enjoy. COVID-19 changed their mindsets, he said, which meant hotel managers needed to meet them “where they are at” to make the workplace more comfortable for them.

“It’s cultivating an environment where we care about their livelihood and their future and they are not just there filling a cog for us, to get us through the day, a shift or month,” Mr Adams said.

He said the design of hotels, including the centuries old lobby layout, would have to change. These changes were already happening, he said, but the pandemic speeded it up.

“We’re seeing hospitality take a bigger role in hospitality where we have always lagged. Now you’re seeing it come to the forefront faster,” he said.

Designs will also change. He said there was a lot of dead space in the design of hotel lobbies where the check in process takes place.


Mr Adams said technology would make that space more functional and completely change the check-in experience.

With apps, hotels would know in advance when the guest is arriving. The hotel could have a lobby ambassador to greet the guest, but that would “be a far as it goes”.

“We don’t need you to come stand at a desk and spend 15 minutes staring at a computer,” Mr Adams said. “You can walk straight to your room. The app technology will revolutionise the check-in experience.”

This will be seen in the new hotels to start with, but he forecasted that it would be retrofitted to established hotels as owners started to see the return on investment (ROI) on those changes.

Mr Adams said hotels would start being treated like entertainment venues that are focused on the local community – with the restaurant, coffee shop and dry cleaners – which just happen to have fantastic rooms above.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at



Tourism businesses still await critical government support

 WITH JUST a week until the Federal Election, Australia’s export tourism industry remains concerned with the lack of political focus on key government supports which will help the industry’s restart.

“We are nearing the end of the election campaign and some of the key issues facing tourism businesses are yet to be addressed,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said. 

“Prior to COVID, tourism exports were a $45 billion industry which drove economic prosperity and jobs, which are particularly crucial to rural and regional areas of Australia. 

“The industry remains particularly concerned about the challenges and roadblocks which are proving to be a hindrance to the industry’s restart and which will only get worse over time if left unaddressed, including our severe workforce shortages which is an issue that has been largely ignored by both parties. 

“Whichever party wins next week, we need the next Federal Government to really get behind our industry and provide a solid set of actions which will be focused on removing barriers to success and turbo charging industry recovery.” 

ATEC’s #itstimefortourism: Recover, Rebuild, Regrow paper calls for key supports, investments and policy considerations which the industry needs to be addressed as the industry begins to rebuild. 

Restart strong – increasing funding for Tourism Australia, extra funding and better targeting of the EMDG program, visa innovation and subsidies for businesses to attend trade events.

Workforce Resilience – extend the WHM fee waiver, invest in tour guide training, the development of an employment and skills online platform and more flexible student visas to allow longer working hours.. 

Capability – programs to support training and capability building, indigenous product development and building regional capacity. 

Distribution and Innovation – innovations for payment processes, promoting leading edge business practices, itinerary development and sustainability. 

“The export tourism industry supply chain is long and complicated and each cog in the wheel needs to work efficiently in order for our visitors to have a great holiday experience and we therefore need to ensure that while we are driving demand, our businesses have the capability to deliver great service when they get here," Mr Shelley said.

“As we continue to increase our inbound visitor numbers month on month, supporting business capacity, rebuilding and re-skilling our tourism workforce will be crucial to Australia's future tourism success.

“After two very long years of border closures It’s time for tourism.”




UNWTO suspends Russia from global tourism body

THE RUSSIAN Federation has been suspended from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), losing with immediate effect its rights and privileges as part of the United Nations travel and tourism agency. On the same day, Russia withdrew from the UNWTO.

Meeting for a first extraordinary UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid, members debated the suspension of Russia from the organisation, as decided by the UNWTO Executive Council at its emergency meeting last month.

The Russian delegation declined to step up and defend its position, and instead announced its withdrawal from UNWTO before the debate took place. 

The Assembly voted in favour of suspension, far exceeding the two-third member majority required. The decision to suspend Russia is effective immediately, from April 28, 2022, while Russia’s voluntary withdrawal is only “effective one year after a member submits an official communication through the appropriate channels” according to UNWTO.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said Russia’s military attack on Ukriane went against the UNWTO's fundamental tenant that tourism was a pillar of peace and international friendship.

“UNWTO’s members have sent a clear message: Tourism is a pillar of peace and international friendship, and members of UNWTO must uphold these values or face consequences, with no exceptions,” he said. “This emergency General Assembly shows that Russia’s actions are indefensible and contrary to the very principles of UNWTO and of international governance.”

In total, 99 countries were represented at the UNWTO Madrid meeting. According to Article 3 of the UNWTO Statutes, all members commit to developing tourism with a “view to contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity, and universal prospect for, and observance of, human rights”.

Mr Pololikashvili  said, effective immediately, the Russian Federation would not be able to exercise the rights or enjoy the privileges of UNWTO membership. This means it will not be able to receive services from the organisation, including technical assistance, nor will the Russian Federation be able to participate in any UNWTO meetings or events, be permitted to put forward any candidates to serve on UNWTO’s statutory bodies, or to vote in elections to UNWTO organs or to propose a candidate to serve as secretary-general.

The first emergency session of the General Assembly was convened at the request of six members and at the instruction of the UNWTO Executive Council. The UNWTO Secretariat then provided a comprehensive report to the General Assembly for member states to take an informed decision in relation to Russian Federation’s suspension from membership, following the organisation´s statutes.

The UNWTO Statutes state that any member state may be suspended if two-thirds of their fellow members believe them to be persisting in a policy that is contrary to the fundamental aim of the organisation.

A majority of two-thirds of full members present and voting at the UNWTO General Assembly is required for a motion for suspension of membership to pass. Suspension is temporary and may be lifted, though only by the General Assembly and following the same procedure.


Time for tourism to recover, rebuild and regrow says ATEC

AUSTRALIA's export tourism industry is calling on political parties to make big commitments in supporting the industry's recovery in the lead up to this year’s Federal Election. The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has outlined several key measures which will help tourism businesses to get back into the global market. 

The COVID-19 pandemic decimated the $45 billion export tourism industry, with many businesses having little or no revenue for the past two years.  With the reopening of international borders, ATEC claims the industry needs clearly articulated commitments from political parties which outline their plans to help drive tourism’s recovery and rebuild valuable tourism distribution networks.  

“Australia’s export tourism industry has endured two years of debilitating conditions where many businesses simply had no income or vision on when it would end,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said. 

“Now we have our borders open we are seeing the green shoots of recovery and with export tourism businesses looking to rebuild their markets, this an important time for government focus on investing in getting the industry back on its feet. 

“With an election ahead, we are calling on all parties to issue a strong commitment to our tourism industry and clearly articulate their policy platforms which will support its restart.” 

ATEC’s #itstimefortourism campaign: Recover, Rebuild, Regrow paper outlines key supports, investments and policy considerations which the industry is calling on our political parties to endorse with four pillars: 

  • Restart strong – increasing funding for Tourism Australia, extra funding and better targeting of the EMDG program, visa innovation and subsidies for businesses to attend trade events.
  • Workforce Resilience – extend the WHM fee waiver, invest in tour guide training and GoWithTourism Australia and more flexible student visas to allow longer working hours. 
  • Capability – programs to support training and capability building, Indigenous product development and building regional capacity. 
  • Distribution and Innovation – innovations for payment processes, promoting leading edge business practices, itinerary development and sustainability. 

“While we rebuild our industry we also have the opportunity to innovate and improve business practices, support a more sustainable industry and create a tourism industry of the future," Mr Shelley said.

“It’s time for tourism and it's time for our political parties to recognise the important contribution the tourism export sector -- Australia’s largest service export -- makes to our economy, by supporting these simple but effective requests that will enable tourism businesses across Australia to get back to what they do best.”



Contact Us


PO Box 2144