It used to be that only large businesses were eligible for serious corporate travel benefits. Big companies got big breaks, and the rest of us languished in steerage after paying full fares.
Those days are over! Corporate travel perks come in a number of different forms, and they can be yours, even if you're a small- to medium-sized business.
Corporate travel perks don't just appear on your doorstep, though. You might actually have to do a little research and track them down.
Where do you find them? One option is through your travel purveyors.
Whether it's an airline, a hotel chain or a rental car agency, odds are good that you can get hooked up with a corporate rewards program. Though companies used to have to spend boatloads of money to be eligible for corporate benefits, some airlines require as little as $10,000 of annual travel spending for eligibility.
Having access to good, reliable data can tell you if your corporate travel is really paying off for your business.
Other benefits can be obtained by using a corporate travel agency, though you will incur some costs directly from the agency.
Let's get to the good stuff! What can you get if your business has significant travel expenses?
1. Lower Rates
That's the sound of the savings you can rack up from discounted flights, hotel rooms and car rentals if you're loyal to a brand.
From sales notifications to corporate rates, business travel often garners discounts that personal travel rarely does.
Particularly if you or your employees travel frequently to one or more hubs serviced by the same airline, you can accumulate miles that may result in free or reduced fare flights.
Hotel stays, too, can add up to free nights. Whether you use those free flights and nights for business travel or for personal trips, you're saving money.
3. Better Support
Some corporate travel programs give you a dedicated number for 'round-the-clock service, should you need to reschedule a flight.
Additionally, professional corporate travel agencies often provide emergency assistance should an employee run into trouble when they're out of town.
4. Greater Flexibility
Need to change a flight?
Without a corporate benefits program, that could cost a bunch of money. One of the biggest benefits of corporate travel is the ability to change itineraries without incurring extra costs.
5. Easier Booking
If you're using a professional travel agency, you don't have to do any work at all.
But even if you're self-booking, many corporate rewards programs will make that process easier as well. You'll have a dedicated page or portal, through which you or your employees can easily book travel. You may also be able to save traveler information, which saves time when arranging business travel.
6. Better Control of Expenses
When using either an agency or a corporate benefits account, you may be able to set limits on the travel your staff can arrange on the company dime. Unless you want every employee to be able to fly first class on you, you'll want to set some parameters. It's easier to ensure compliance with your travel policies if there are limits on what people can book.
7. Rapid Review
Information is power. Business travel is expensive. Having access to good, reliable data can tell you if your corporate travel is really paying off for your business. Data can tell you which trips are most profitable. It can also tell you where you're wasting money.
Both travel agencies and corporate rewards programs should be able to serve up actionable travel data, presented in an understandable way.
8. Airport Lounges
Wifi, food, drink and quiet… Yes, please!
Private lounges in airports may be the best-kept secret. One of the perks of many travel programs is access to these peaceful havens, full of features that make travel both more productive and more pleasurable.
Sure, you can Skype a new client in a new market. And yes, you can convey vital information in an email. But there's no substitute for a face-to-face and a handshake.
When you're looking to grow your business (and that can mean physically expanding your footprint or client base), doing it in person shows a real commitment.
Whether you're always ready for your next adventure or you find travel an unwelcome chore, the corporate benefits of business travel can help save you money and improve your experiences.
Read more articles on productivity.
Photo: Getty Images