Man passed out in airport terminal. Sometimes the bottom line wins at the expense of employee productivity during a business trip.

The phrase “Penny Wise and Pound Foolish” can be traced back to as far as 1598, but it’s still relevant today, especially when it comes to business travel. The phrase warns that you should never stress over decisions featuring small amounts of money, especially when those decisions can end up costing you more money in the long run.

So how does this relate to your travel spend? Well, often businesses focus too much on the bottom line whenever they make travel plans for their employees - often following an outdated travel policy that just doesn’t add up. While saving the company a few dollars on flights and hotels, these “Penny Wise” solutions become “Dollar Foolish” when they impact productivity and sabotage outcomes during the trip.

Let’s look at a few examples where this comes into play:

Example 1

You’re sending your sales team across country, and you expect them to work en route to their meeting, finalizing their presentation. Is it wiser to put them in coach, where there’s not enough room to fully open a laptop, or spend a few bucks extra for a more spacious seat?

Example 2

Your Technology Director has a 9:00am meeting in New York City. You can save some serious dough by booking her flight for 6:00am that morning, instead of flying her in the night before and putting her up in a hotel. In which situation would she arrive at that 9:00am meeting fresh and ready to kick butt…after waking up at 4:00am to catch her early flight, or after a great night sleep blocks away from the meeting?

Example 3

Your team is attending a conference in a popular destination, like Las Vegas or Orlando, where there are plenty of hotels to choose from. Instead of booking them into the Conference site hotel, where they’d be steps away from the action, you save money by booking them into a satellite hotel a mile away, where they have to shuttle to and from meetings. During a vital conversation with a major buyer, they have to race back to their hotel room to grab a product sample…forcing the client to wait way too long to continue the meeting. Business lost.

Oftentimes these “Penny Wise” decisions are mandated by incomplete or outdated travel guidelines. If your travel manager or office assistant, whoever is in charge of booking your company’s travel, is being forced to make these decisions in order to follow the rules and comply with your travel policy, then it’s time for you to reevaluate that policy—either internally or with outside professional guidance from a travel management company.

Download a PDF of this article