There are several things most entrepreneurs know about business travel:
- It's unavoidable in most industries.
- Everybody has advice on how to do it cheapest, safest and best.
- That advice almost always contradicts other advice, and sometimes contradicts itself.
The ever-changing and consistently confusing world of business travel has tons of challenges, but four travel myths stand out as particularly costly.
1. The Internet Makes Travel Agents Irrelevant
The Myth: Aggregator websites like Orbitz and Travelocity provide all the same information a travel agent has access to, plus access to the lowest prices on airfare, hotel rooms and package deals. Who needs the added expense of a travel agent?
The Truth: Travel agencies have more buying power than individuals hunting the Web for good deals, and they represent enough travel spending to demand special treatment. They can still find prices lower than those on the Web, and their fees come out of the vendors' profits—not your travel budget.
The Plan: Develop a relationship with a travel agent who can handle your business travel. Insist that they provide two Web-researched itineraries in addition to the one they generate, so you know you're getting the best deal.
Bonus Tip: Did you know that airfare aggregator sites often give you a bigger discount on your first visit, and then charge higher prices each time you book thereafter? If you're not using a travel agent, you should book each airline ticket using an incognito browser window so the site thinks you're a new customer every time.
2. Weekends Are Always More Expensive
The Myth: Since families travel on weekends, rates at hotels and venues are always more expensive on the weekends. You should plan business travel during the week to avoid those price hikes.
The Truth: This rule applies to bed and breakfasts, family resorts and other spots that cater to families. For hotels that serve the business-travel crowd—for example, extended stay hotels and places near airports or convention centers—the opposite is usually true.
The Plan: Double-check rates, and plan an over-the-weekend meeting if that saves significant money. Be sure to make it up to your team with time off during the week or other incentives.
3. Loyalty Programs Save You Money
The Myth: The loyalty and frequent-flyer programs available from every travel vendor will save your business hundreds or thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your business. Besides, it saves time to simply go with the company you have on speed dial.
The Truth: The points you accumulate with loyalty programs don't begin to approach the savings you'll accrue by shopping around for every business trip—especially since most loyalty rewards give you "free upgrades" to a price point you wouldn't have even considered paying for.
The Plan: Unless it's a trip you make every year, or you have a special relationship with a vendor, shop around for your airfare and hotel for every trip.
4. A Rental Car Is A Must
The Myth: Time is money. Since rental cars save you time on a business trip, they really do save you money even though they're an expense.
The Truth: A 2013 report by the Global Business Travel Association found that more than half of all business travelers opt to book a hotel near the facility they'll be visiting, then walk to the venue or take public transportation to get there.
The Plan: Make a schedule for each business trip that includes time for riding the bus, subway or hotel shuttle instead of driving to various destinations. Only rent a car if there's not enough flex time to go with the less-expensive options.
Bonus Tip: For longer stays, look into a weekly or monthly public transit pass for the city you're visiting. These often end up being cost-effective after just eight to 10 trips.
What business travel standards have you recently learned are myths? How have you changed your business travel to reflect this? Sound off in the comments below.
Jason Brick has contributed more than 2,000 blog and magazine articles to local, regional and national publications and speaks regularly at writing and business conferences. You can find out more about Jason at www.brickcommajason.com.
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