Travel time charges

What do you do about travel charges, when a plane is delayed? Ella posted a comment in my article about billing travel time charges. She wrote:

I am a consultant for now (my client said that he will make me an employee after a trial period, but didn’t specify how long). I recently had to go on a business trip with him for 3 days and not sure how to bill for it. The cab picked me up @ 6:30 AM on Monday to take me to airport and after we landed we went to see the client and then company dinner. After that to hotel (did a little work on computer as well). Then conference/another party and back to hotel. Last day conference until 6 then airport – my flight was at 9 PM and got delayed, so cab brought me home by midnight). I would really appreciate your suggestions. Thank you.

Here’s the thing. You should iron out travel time fees before you start work. Get it in writing — use a contract. This can help avoid headaches later.

In Ella’s case, it’s especially tricky because she’s hoping to become an employee of the company in question. Right now, she may not entirely have a consulting role — she needs to look at whether she’s an independent contractor or an employee. If she really wants to work for this company as an employee, she doesn’t have as much leverage as if she’s a contractor.

It’s hard to give Ella concrete decisions, because I’m not aware of the terms of her contract. And she may need to act more like an employee, if that’s her goal for this work.

If you’re an independent consultant, you can be a little more forceful about how you deal with this situation. You’ll still need to look at how you’ve structured your consulting rate — by the hour, project, day and so on.

What would you tell Ella?

zs says:

In our practice fees for travel time are agreed and documented during the contracting stage. We have used anywhere from 100% of the daily rate to 50% of the rate to compensate the consultant for time spent traveling to and from the client site.

Tony says:

I would have similar advice for her. Also, I agree that it doens’t sound like she is a true consultant for this client. By being led to believe that there may be a full time position available and her expressing interest, it sounds like she may be taken a little advantage of.

Whenever discussing the project or developing a proposal there should always be a part for traveling or expenses. In this case, if the plane was delayed, I would not charge the client unless we agreed on a specific travel rate per hour. Typically, traveling time is billed at 50%, but not always.

I would have just used the time to work on other projects, polish a presentation, catchup on email, etc.

Tony Rose