Corporate Travel Discounts: How to Get the Best Bang for Your BuckBy Kathleen Burns
If you’re not taking advantage of corporate rates and discounts, your company could be missing out on a lot of savings.
What’s the biggest myth in the corporate travel industry? Probably that corporate rates and discounts are reserved for only the biggest companies.
Sure, some savings are exclusive to large-scale companies. But, there are several opportunities for growing businesses to save on travel expenses as well — you just have to know how to find them.
Here are 7 tips on how to get discounted fares on corporate travel purchases as an SMB:
1. Choose your corporate credit card wisely
Choosing a credit card to use for your company is an important decision. It can be intimidating due to the plethora of options, all boasting the biggest and the best rewards around. Before you pick one, hone in on what perks you want to get out of a credit card. Are your employees devoutly loyal to one airline? Then maybe that airline’s corporate credit card is the way to go. Looking for more flexibility with travel? Maybe consider one of the (multiple) Chase business card options. The point is, most corporate cards offer discounts on hotel rooms, car rentals, flights, and even travelers insurance. Poke around to find the best fit that will help support your company’s goals.
2. Compare rates
Unless you’re booking travel for the next day, don’t immediately take the first hotel, flight, or car rental option that pops up. Instead, shop around a bit. This can be time consuming, but if you’ve got a few spare minutes it can also save you a decent amount of money. Regardless, you should try to develop an efficient method for surveying the available inventory. One way to do this is by using a corporate travel management software. These platforms often help to aggregate a wide inventory of options all in one place to save you from hours of tab surfing.
3. Stay consistent
One of the best ways to get travel discounts is by choosing one airline and one hotel chain to stay loyal to. This won’t make sense for every organization, and the applicability will highly depend on your budget and common destinations. But, loyalty point rewards are no joke. Plus, your employees can even rack up points on their own frequent traveler accounts to use on personal vacations.
4. Track prices and start early
A good way to find the best deals on flights and hotels is by using a price tracker to find out when the best time to buy is. Some good options are KAYAK, Hopper, and SkyScanner. Tools like these will advise your travelers on the best times and places to book tickets, hotels, and car rentals. If you start using these tools early, you could stumble across some great deals.
5. Ask for discounts
When booking hotels, try picking up the phone and calling the front desk (but not the 800 number). Many hotels will offer a corporate rate, but you have to ask for it. Sometimes the discounts will be posted online, but other times they aren’t published anywhere. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, so don’t be afraid to ask.
6. Flex your negotiation muscles
If hotels don’t offer a corporate discount right away, negotiate. If you’ll be staying there for a while, push for an extended stay discounts. Or see if they’ll be willing to set up a deal for a guaranteed number of nights per month or per year. Provide some incentive for them to want to work with you. Work with the hotel managers to see if you can come up with a plan that benefits both parties.
7. Choose your corporate travel management strategy carefully
Some corporate travel management companies can help your company access discounts that wouldn’t normally be available if you were to search for flights on your own. For example, Lola.com has built strategic partnerships, including with American Express Global Business Travel, that make enterprise level discounts available to small to medium size businesses. Plus, these software platforms also help organize and track all travel costs.
There are plenty of ways to discover and take advantage of corporate travel discounts to help your company save on flights, hotels, and car rentals. Sometimes you just have to be willing to put the work in.