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Controlling Spending on the Road - Entertainment

In our past two posts we've discussed expense policy and how to negotiate discounts for your business travelers. Here, we'll talk about client entertainment.

Often most outlandish expenses come from entertaining clients. We've all heard a story or two about somebody ordering a really expensive bottle of wine or dining at the fanciest restaurant in town (with the price tag to match). But, how do you decline to pay those expenses when they won over a new client, or kept an old client from leaving?

I don't think there is an industry which has not been affected by our current financial turmoil. Companies everywhere are tightening their belts, and every department is pitching in to help. Your business travelers should be no different.

Take this time of belt tightening as an opportunity to talk to all of your business travelers. Whether through a PowerPoint presentation, video, or just a chat on the phone - you need to convey that the business needs their help to stay competitive in these tough times. Explain to them that every dollar saved in expenses is like earning $10 more dollars in sales (this is just an example - your numbers may be very different). And, reiterate what's already in your expense policy.

A great way to get your travelers on board is to give them the tools to make it work. The Michelin Guide is an excellent resource. Every restaurant listed has merit, and many are not only yummy and stylish, but inexpensive too. Other favorite places to find great restaurants are zagat.com and opentable.com (they have a new app for the iPhone, which is fantastic).

Client entertainment isn't going away, so you will need to give your team the tools and encouragement to keep it in check.

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