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10 Ways to Save on Business Travel

10 Ways to Save on Business Travel

Commonsense approaches will keep you on the move without emptying your pockets.

4. Be flexible. For travel to or from an area with multiple airports, ask your travel counselor to search alternate airports when pricing an itinerary, or use this option yourself if you’re booking online. For example, in New York City, fares may be lower via JFK than LaGuardia—low enough to more than offset the higher taxi fare into Manhattan. My tip: Be flexible about the days of the week and even the time of day you travel. Take flexibility a step further and consider other modes of travel than airlines (think train, express bus or driving).

5. Watch for waste. Millions of airline tickets go unused [each year?], even though most non-refundable fares are valid for up to a year. Even with change fees, you can save money by not letting these unused tickets expire. My tip: If you think your trip may end up being shorter or longer than you originally planned, consider paying the higher fee for a refundable ticket. It may end up costing less in the long run. A last-minute fare plus penalty can equal a staggering total.

6. Double up on hotel rooms. Some companies ask (or mandate) that co-workers traveling together share a hotel room or suite. Along the same lines, share car service or a taxi to and from the airport. My tip: If you can, stay with a friend or relative. Some companies are happy to reimburse you for a thank-you gift or lavish meal for your host if the total is less than the cost of a night’s stay in a hotel.

7. Have a professional plan complex trips. Complicated international itineraries can offer opportunities for significant savings, even if you have to pay agency booking fees. In other words, let the pros take over. You’ll gain from their knowledge of the best airlines, airports, fare classes and specials, and they can book an itinerary far faster than any road warrior can do on a consumer site. My tip: Use a travel professional whenever it looks like self-booking will take you more than half an hour.

8. Plan ahead and stay in touch. The earlier you book air tickets and hotel rooms, the more likely it is that you’ll find a good price. Some airlines and many hotels will honor a lower rate if the price for your trip falls after you’ve booked it. My tip: Keep watching prices. You won’t automatically get the lower rate unless you know to ask for it.

9. Stretch your stay to stretch your dollar. Minimum-stay requirements are back, as are cheap fares that require a Saturday-night stay. That means postponing your return trip from a Friday until a Sunday or Monday can result in substantial savings—enough to cover a few nights at a hotel, and then some. My tip: When you have a weekend layover, get out of your original business destination. If you’re in Atlanta, rent a car and check out Savannah; in Chicago, try the Wisconsin Dells; in Albany, check out Saratoga Springs.

10. Don’t forget the classic money-savers. Some tried-and-true opportunities still exist for travelers, and some are even more common now with higher airline loads. Take that free voucher for volunteering your seat on an oversold flight and pick off-season destinations when you’re planning a meeting. My tips: Use public transportation whenever you can to avoid car rentals. Skip room service, and don’t even open the door to the mini-bar. It’s less fun to schlep your own snacks than to raid the larder, but it’ll be a lot easier on the bottom line.

Julie Moline has been writing about corporate travel since 1980, and has since logged more than 650 business trips on five continents. She currently writes the “Road Warrior” column for Entrepreneur and has written about travel for the International Herald Tribune, Money, Harper’s Bazaar, Global Finance, Toronto Globe and Mail and The London Daily Telegraph.

Courtesy of © 2008 YellowBrix, Inc.

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