Discover more in the Business Travel series

Cut Travel Costs With Car and Lodging Alternatives

Cool new alternatives to renting a car or booking a hotel room can help busy travelers save money and time.
July 18, 2012

Business owners often keep businesses moving by being on the move themselves. A study by Oxford Economics USA says every dollar invested in business travel pays off with $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits.

Savvy business travelers work to keep expenses down while maximizing profits. Here are some travel alternatives available to help.

Private Driver Options

A business trip taken by plane or train means arriving in a destination city needing a way to get around. There are more transportation options than traditional taxi cabs, limousine services and rental car branches.

Uber bills itself as an "on-demand private driver experience." Members request a car and driver to pick them up in a matter of minutes in 13 cities. Travelers can call for a car using Uber's smartphone app, by text message or by logging in to the website from their mobile devices.

Brian McMullen, community manager in San Francisco for Uber, says a car arrives in five to eight minutes in most cities, or in about 10 minutes in New York City. All payments and tips are charged through the traveler's Uber account. "You can forget your wallet and you'll still be able to get a car," says McMullen.

The base fare and mileage charges vary by city. McMullen says the fare is more than the price of a cab or a limo, but there are no hourly minimums or driver down time. "Don't pay for a driver's wait time. Just request a car when you need it."

Car Sharing

Zipcar is a fleet of 9,000 shared vehicles in 28 North American states and London. Travelers search for nearby cars online and then reserve them. Once the reservation is made, the car is unlocked by waving the member card at the windshield.

Members pay an application fee, an annual fee and hourly and daily rates that vary by geographical region, with additional fees for things like gas and insurance. Zipcar can be useful for individuals who need to rent cars frequently, but can also be a solution for business owners who only need company cars some of the time.

Getaround is a service that offers peer-to-peer car sharing. Car owners list their vehicles on the website and members can choose to rent them by the hour or by the day. Each rental is backed by auto insurance and the car owner can choose to use keys or a kit that allows smartphone access to the rental.

Ashley Levine, communications manager for Getaround, says there are more than 10,000 cars available to rent. The service is currently in four cities—San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area including Mountain View, Palo Alto and Berkeley; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Tex.; and in limited areas of San Diego—and is expanding.

A Place to Stay

Business travelers aren't just limited to chain hotels when it comes to finding deals on lodging. There are affordable places to stay in someone else's home.

Airbnb says it has facilitated more than 5 million stays in 19,000 cities since it was founded in 2008. Travelers can search for anything from a single room to an entire villa by searching the photos, descriptions and reviews and reading the information about the homeowner.

Andrea from Philadelphia has been on the site for a year hosting and renting. "Airbnb is constantly restoring my faith in humankind that people are inherently good and kind," Andrea said. "It is especially great in cities where you want to be right in the neighborhood rather than tucked away in a hotel near the airport or expressway!"

Rentals can be found on the site in all prices ranging from $25 a night for a single room in a stateside apartment to thousands of dollars a night for a luxury home in Europe.

Luxury Living

Renting luxury in New York and London is the mission of One Fine Stay. This site encourages travelers to live like locals by renting unique properties when the owner is away. Each property comes with a list of recommendations for things to see and do nearby.

Renting a home on an extended business trip can give a traveler space to spread out and work at prices that are competitive with single rooms in hotels. Renting a larger space with multiple bedrooms can work for a group traveling together without the cost of individual rooms.

Home rental works both ways. A business traveler might look into renting the place back home to earn a little extra cash while on the road.

Have you ever used any of these services, or a service like them? Share your experiences below.

Carla Turchetti is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who likes to break a topic down and keep her copy tight. That's why this bio is so brief! Carla blogs via Contently.com.

Photo credit: Thinkstock