When I worked at Xerox, I was introduced to budgets. The dreaded process of determining what you will do for the next calendar year in your little business world. Sales organizations would guesstimate what they would sell, other departments would simply guess what they would cost, and many in travel would estimate what they can deliver in savings - real or fabricated. Senior executives relied on such exercises as a means to control the masses of people they had working for them. Investors would attempt to understand how such processes could (or could not) drive stock price in the markets. But the reality of such exercises is they are fictional - created on fake processes and assumptions that rarely are reality. But, we have to play this game. So this is how you should play your budget game - and delete this email once you have read it to destroy the evidence of your brilliance.
a) Airfare, Hotel and Ground Costs will Rise - Soon forecasts, and revised forecasts, and more revised forecasts for how much to expect from rising expenses of travel will come out. Take the highest ones and then jack it up a couple of percentage points. Cover your arse. Use me as your expert - because the reality of these forecasts, is they are all based on various forms of feces. There is no one and no thing that can predict the future of these prices. So make 'em high to cover yourself. Because you have to do something. And they will never go down.
b) Personal Well Being - This is your professional development line - where you educate yourself. This is where you put in travel and food and wine while you are attending industry events. So start looking now at what and where you want to attend. Then bump it up a little to cover the fluff. The pitch for this line is development - learning - getting better - talking with peers and networking. Use all the big words so that you can tell your boss this budget line is to make them and the company better!
c) Auditing - Forgive me, but you may think you will NEVER use our services. Why? I have no idea. But let's just assume for a moment you will not use us. That should never stop you from putting a good healthy line item in your budget for a contingency. We have clients that do this all over the world - they plan for something because they may need us. Then, they use our services and guess what? They love us! They love what we do and why we do it and they love how it makes them and their travel programs better! So do not leave this one behind - start budgeting for Topaz now!
d) Headcount - Never add headcount. Ever. That will draw attention to your budget and you do not want any additional attention because you want to just have this whole budget approval thing just slide through.
e) Support Services - This is the line where you hire me as your consultant - a simple retainer will do - where I give you much needed advice and guidance on how to deal with all your suppliers and all your data and all your contracts. We can discuss fees at your convenience.
So there you go - five key focus items for your budgets this season. So enjoy the end of the summer and start working on those budgets!