Skyrocketing ticket prices and lighter wallets overall have made the ordeal of business travel a big headache, especially for small business owners. Combined with tighter security, delayed flights, lost luggage, and cramped planes, it’s not tough for business travel to turn into a permanent migraine.
With amazing tools like Skype and WebEx, the need for business travel has certainly decreased somewhat. But there are still many cases where nothing will replace a traditional face-to-face meeting.
Say your huge potential client is still on the fence, and needs some last-minute convincing. Or, you need to talk to a new investor, and your pitch just doesn’t come across as effectively when you’re not in the room with them.
Business situations such as these can’t be handled via web-cam.
So, when you need to book that last-minute flight or huge international trip, you should know where to look. There are countless tools out there designed to make business travel easier on you, your business, and your wallet, but here are five that we’ve found to be useful:
1. TripIt: The TripIt service is a magical way to get all of your travel plans combined into one itinerary at the push of a button. All you have to do (after you register) is email your travel confirmation emails to email@example.com; the service does the rest for you.
It’s a heck of a lot more convenient than wading through your inbox, printing every one of them out, or taking the time to format your own itinerary. And it’s definitely easier than showing up at the wrong airport because you didn’t have your confirmation handy.
2. Orbitz for Business: The Orbitz for Business service allows you access to corporate travel discounts and lower prices. It does cost you a bit extra for membership -- but that should be off-set by the savings you get.
3. FlightStats: FlightStats is crucial for any business traveler who’s ever rushed to the airport, only to discover their flight is several hours delayed. The tool tracks flights in real-time for you.
4. Hotwire: Hotwire has tons of options for business travelers on a budget. The main purpose of the site, of course, is to get you the best deals on airfare and hotels, and they claim to save you more than the average deal-comparer. But they also offer other tools, like the Trip Watcher, which shows you the best days to travel to get to your destination for cheaper. You can also set it to track flight prices to a certain location, and alert you when prices go down.
5. Priceline: If you only know about Priceline because of the ads featuring William Shatner, it’s time to check it out. The site lets you “Name Your Own Price,” whereby you put in whatever you want to spend on a hotel, and the site chooses a hotel in the star range and for the price you’ve indicated. The catch is that you don’t know where you’re booked until after the site has charged your credit card, but we’ve heard good things from other users. And, the best part is that you know you’re getting the lowest price.