How to Find the Best Deals for Corporate TravelBy Kathleen Burns
Business travel is expensive. Are you making the most of your corporate travel budget?
In 2022, corporate travel will cost U.S. businesses more than a quarter of a trillion dollars. Even though technology has made it easier than ever to connect virtually, face-to-face connections are still valued in the business world.
With companies spending so much on airfare and hotel rooms, they are always looking for corporate travel deals to stretch their travel budgets. We’re sharing everything you need to know about getting the most value out of your corporate travel spend.
In this guide to corporate travel deals you’ll learn:
- The five types of corporate travel deals,
- How to choose the best corporate travel deal program for your business, and
- How to find deals on corporate travel.
The best corporate travel deals: Five types of corporate travel deals
The types of travel deals that are available to business travelers are similar to those available to leisure travelers. Just like with personal travel, the discounts you can score for corporate travel depend on what methods you use to book your travel and accommodations.
Companies with managed travel programs rely on an external corporate travel agent, internal travel manager, or corporate travel software to negotiate deals with airlines, hotels, and car rental companies on their behalf to secure deals. Lola.com, for example, partners with one of the largest corporate travel agencies to provide its customers discounted corporate rates and special privileges (like refundable tickets) previously only offered to the biggest companies in the world. Because corporate travel agents and booking software provide a large volume of business to these companies, they can offer discounts to corporate travelers that they don’t make available to individual travelers. Businesses that use a managed travel program like Lola.com save up to 30% on their business travel versus booking travel on their own.
Business travelers at companies with unmanaged travel programs have to fend for themselves to find corporate travel deals. They typically use booking sites created for leisure travelers to reserve travel and accommodations for work, which means that they’re missing out on special discounts and offers negotiated exclusively on their behalf.
These are the five most common types of corporate travel deals you’ll encounter through a managed travel program:
- Discounted rates on the most popular flights. According to the law of demand, when multiple airlines compete for customers on the same route, the customer wins because prices are lower than on less popular routes. That’s why you may find a flight between JFK and LAX that’s cheaper than a flight between Hartford and St. Louis.
- Bundles. Travel bundles, which sell flights and accommodations and/or flights and car rentals together, are another reliable way to score deals on corporate travel. When possible, bundle your travel needs to save the most money.
- Exclusive access. Corporate travel agencies and booking tools have access to seats on flights and hotel rooms that aren’t available to the public. You can save money by getting on a cheaper flight that looks sold out to the general public.
- Upgrades. Corporate travel agents can hook their clients up with upgrades and perks because of the volume of business they generate for their partners. For example, Lola can offer their customers refundable tickets.
- Last-minute deals. It’s possible to get last-minute deals on business accommodations, car rentals, and flights because these vendors would rather make less money on a seat than leave it empty. If looking for a last-minute deal on business travel, use a corporate travel service that takes the bureaucracy out of booking so you don’t have to wait hours for manager approval.
How to choose the best corporate travel deal program for your business
So how can you decide which travel deals are best suited for your business? When you switch to a managed travel program, your corporate travel service will work hard to get your company the best deals. Review your company’s travel needs and priorities - volume of travel, frequency, types of destinations, etc. - in order to guide your travel agent or manager in the right direction.
For example, if most of your company’s business travel happens in the state next to yours, you may need deals on car rentals and hotels and not on flights. Or if most of your company’s travel takes place between your two offices, prioritize negotiating deals on that flight route and hotels in those cities. Maximize your travel budget by seeking deals and discounts that fit what your company spends most on.
If your company doesn’t have a corporate travel solution yet, what features should you look for in one? Here are some guidelines for choosing an effective corporate travel service:
- Make sure that your savings outweigh service fees. Steer clear of agencies or services that ask for a commission. Fixed fees are your friend. If your volume is great enough, it may make more sense to hire an internal travel manager over an external travel agency.
- When looking for a corporate travel card, look for one that gives you points and discounts on the vendors, airlines, and chains you use the most.
- Look for a service that can provide your travelers with 24/7 support. For example, instead of hiring an assistant travel manager to work nights and weekends, equip your travelers with around-the-clock support from a corporate travel tool like Lola.
Find a corporate travel deal program that maximizes your travel budget.
How to find deals on corporate travel
No matter how small or large your company, your business is eligible for corporate travel deals. Corporate travel agencies and booking tools will pass on their industry deals to your business. If you hire a corporate travel manager, they will negotiate deals through airlines and hotels directly.
So where can you find the best travel deals for business trips? If your company has a managed travel program, your travel agent, online booking tool, or corporate travel manager will hook you up with the best prices.
If your company doesn’t have a managed travel program, you’re on your own to find good deals. You can book travel directly through airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies or through travel sites that provide discounts on bundles and last-minute deals like Kayak.com.
If you’re booking your own travel, you probably want to know the best times to look for corporate travel deals. For domestic flights, you’ll get the best fares 21 to 121 days before the travel date. Seventy days seems to be the sweet spot, according to NerdWallet. For international flights, pricing varies based on region. Flights to the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, and South Pacific should be booked 200 days in advance, while flights to Canada or Central America should be booked 60 days in advance for the best prices.
Traveling for work is an important part of conducting business in 2019. As companies spend more and more on business travel, it’s important for them to stretch their travel budgets. Companies that use Lola.com for their corporate travel needs save up to 30% on travel.