Traveling for business is often seen as a high-budget perk to the job… for everybody except the business owner that is. Despite tax deductibility of most business travel expenses, it pays to be judicious about how you spend your money on business trips. Here are some hotel and car rental hacks that will keep your team traveling in the lap of luxury without the associated price tag.
- Getting to the Hotel
Instead of hopping in a cab (or series of cabs, depending on the size of your entourage) at the airport, explore some of the other options to get to your hotel. First and foremost, ask your hotel if they have a courtesy shuttle service; some indeed provide this benefit but don’t advertise it. If they don’t have a shuttle service, they can usually recommend a good alternative and sometimes will either make the arrangements for you or give you a discount code for a preferred supplier.
Failing that, there are a number of shuttle services that can get you to your destination economically and in comfort. A quick online search will usually provide a number of solutions.
- Location, Location, Location
Where you stay is largely dependent on what you have to do (and where) on the trip. Staying in a central location in town (near a conference center, for example) comes with the highest price tag but also saves the time and cost of transportation to and from the venue.
If you must drive to your venue, compare the cost of renting a car and parking it, to the cost of taking taxis. After all is said and done, there isn’t always a clear answer as to which option is cheaper.
If you can, try to book your accommodations close to public transportation (assuming it’s plentiful in the city you are visiting). Getting a week-long pass for the buses and trains will be far cheaper than the alternative and may also give you and your employees some additional leeway for personal travel as well.
- Hotel Internet
Before you connect to the in-room internet service (which often comes with a fee), inquire about common-area WiFi and internet services. Some places will quietly offer free WiFi in the lobby or business center (and/or internet-enabled computers for guest use) but charge exorbitantly for in-room internet use.
- Hotel Breakfast
Eating breakfast at the hotel is convenient but can be costly. Obviously take advantage if it’s free of charge, but think twice about lining up for the (often mediocre) buffet if it’s not since it’s often overpriced. Becoming a “temporary regular” at the coffee shop down the street can sometimes be even more rewarding — financially and otherwise.
- Consider Car Sharing
Instead of renting a car, look into car sharing as a possibility. If you already belong to a corporate car-sharing program in your hometown, this option is even easier on the road.
- Ask for Discounts
When reserving both your accommodations and possible car rental or car-sharing program, ask if they have any corporate discount programs available. Even if your group is small there could be a loyalty program just right for you.
- Ask for Upgrades!
If you need to rent a car, reserve the lowest cost option. When picking the car up, ask if they have any complimentary upgrades or free corporate incentives available. You’d be surprised at what they’ll offer!
The same applies to your accommodations as well. You never know what you can get by simply asking for a free upgrade. This is true especially if you are a larger group as they could be vying for your repeat business and eager to create a regular customer out of you.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your requests if they’re not immediately forthcoming with options; maybe the hotel can’t upgrade your room but will be happy to give you complimentary or discounted breakfasts.
- Business Meetings and Meals
Try to take that business meeting or group outing over lunch instead of dinner. This way you’ll save money on the price hike that restaurants enjoy levying at dinnertime. Employees might also appreciate some down-time in the evenings to explore on their own and eat where they like.
Source: 8/5/10 American Express Open Forum Contributor Wise Bread