Your email inbox is probably inundated with airline and hotel reward programs, and that's not exactly ideal for the busy business traveler. But somewhere in the mix are some potentially worthwhile rewards that you might want to take the effort to invest in.
In the name of free nights in a hotel, free flights, and free upgrades, taking a few minutes to sign up for some reward programs is probably worth it.
It’s easy to forget our inadvertent brand loyalty for airlines and hotels when traveling for work, but remember: you're forking over a lot of steady income to the same large company over and over. You should be rewarded for it!
Obviously the best situations are the ones where your small business has an already developed relationship with a frequently-used airline or hotel from years past. But for the smaller and startup businesses that are likely footing those bills out of pocket, Internet searching for the cheapest deals trumps any loyalty.
What does that mean? Signing up for multiple frequent fliers. You might as well, since the upside of mergers and acquisitions is that there’s less paperwork to fill out and more bang for your membership.
Here's how to discern which ones to go with before typing in all that personal information:
Don’t low-ball yourself with meager sign-up deals. Forget those measly 15,000 bonus mile offers. They aren’t going to get you far, and it’s insulting these airlines would even try to lure with such a small number. There are larger offers out there and most flights require even more miles lately. When signing up for a reward program, don’t settle for anything less than 40,000-miles.
Use the Internet. Airlines and hotels usually offer different variations of a deal. The deals offered via an airline or hotel magazine, or over the phone, always pale in comparison to the ones you find when you go straight to the airline or hotel’s website and click on their specified promotional link. The right link is always the right deal. Applying for a reward credit card from a magazine insert is so very last century!
Know what an actual deal for you is. Make sure you know what kind of rewards you are spending so much of your money to earn. You don’t really need the 2011 Entertainment Book as your prize – free airfare and hotels are what we're going for.
Free upgrades make a world of different for long distance travel. Drink vouchers come in handy when you’re parched and know there should be no such thing as a $4 can of soda. The fewer the limitations, the better. You don’t want to work hard and discover you can’t get what you were going for after all that spending.
The ever-expanding list of partnerships airlines and hotel groups share is the gem for every reward cards member. Instead of buying a bigger wallet to hold all those cards, one piece of plastic and one member number encompasses much of your mileage.
Make location-based choices. When choosing that go-to home airline, decide on a rewards service that is actually available in your area. If you live in Atlanta, it makes sense to go with the SkyMiles program or with a partner airline like AirFrance to get more bang for your buck. Living in Arizona and sticking with Delta doesn’t make sense and leaves you making connections with multi-hour layovers in inconvenient, out-of-the-way cities.
When choosing your main airline if you have several options, look through the affiliate programs with each airline and let them aid in determining which program is best for your company. If you find you’re always staying in a Hilton, Marriott or Hyatt, choose the airline with the best deal with that hotel. Of course, always read the fine print!