How to Uncover Corporate Travel DiscountsBy Jeanne Hopkins
Every business whose employees travel for work needs to control travel expenses — and the right corporate travel discounts can help you get there.
Corporate travel discounts can directly reduce fares, and some rewards programs can boost benefits for travelers as well as your business. And these discounts aren’t all reserved for large enterprises. Even small firms can take advantage of many corporate rates.
Types of corporate travel discounts
Hotel, flight, and car rental corporate travel discounts are the most common, although most types of travel industry vendors offer some kind of discounted corporate rate. You will see both fixed and sliding-scale discount options. There are even programs, such as United’s PerksPlus, that are designed especially for small and mid-size businesses.
Often eligibility depends on a minimum spending or usage threshold, but not always. That means even small companies or those with more modest travel programs can save – if you do your homework.
Choosing a corporate credit card that provides cash back or travel-related rewards indirectly reduces your travel management bottom line. Note that corporate credit cards vary widely in their features and limitations as well as cost of ownership. Most have annual fees, which can be hefty.
Who creates corporate travel discounts?
Individual suppliers and online booking agents (OBAs) create discount programs that you may qualify for, but you can also create your own discounts through direct negotiation with providers. Even some restaurant chains offer corporate travel discounts. Never be afraid to ask! A corporate travel agency can often secure lower, negotiated rates than you could get on your own.
Corporate travel discount programs
Corporate travel discount programs work in different ways. Some corporate credit cards earn you discounts with airlines, hotels, or car rental agencies as well as cash back or other rewards. In addition to a reduced corporate rate, hotels may waive cancellation fees or entitle you to free or upgraded amenities, such as Wi-Fi or complimentary breakfast. Airline loyalty programs may waive change fees or allow access to airport lounges, which can be a life saver during long layovers or delays.
How can you obtain a corporate rate?
- Negotiate it yourself
- Research travel services and discount programs online
- Work through a corporate travel agent or OBA
How to find corporate travel discounts
Along with using the sources noted above, employees can always ask for a discounted rate when they’re checking in to a hotel or picking up their rental car. You can employ methods of “discounting” within your own company as well. For example:
- Strategically created your corporate travel policies should include a rule that precludes last-minute booking of a business trip. This automatically eliminates associated fees which drive up airfare.
- If you’ve adopted a digital travel management tool like Lola.com, the data you capture in your reports about company travel will help you pinpoint where you can trim costs or gain efficiencies beyond direct rate reductions.
As noted earlier, you may have to spend a minimum amount or use a hotel or car rental agency with minimum frequency to be eligible for discounts. But there are programs with no minimum requirement, except that you be a business.
There is no “best time” to get corporate travel discounts because savings are always in season. However, reducing costs on your most common expenses will have the most significant impact on your travel management efforts.
Best corporate travel discounts
This travel glossary will help you identify common terms and acronyms as you’re researching discount opportunities. That should help you read between the lines so you can evaluate which features will be most beneficial and cost-effective for your company. Look for loyalty programs that rack up points for your traveling employees as well as the company. And look for programs that offer deep data reporting, to enhance travel planning as well as help manage travel costs.
The more you investigate your options, the more ways you might find to save. Cheaper fares or room rates, free nights, upgrades — it all adds up.
Any discount is a good thing. However, the best corporate travel discounts are the ones that are easiest to access and provide the greatest reduction in overall travel costs. To do that, they must align with your company’s culture as well as your business goals and travel program needs. You’ll have to pencil it out to see which programs are truly beneficial for your organization.