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How to Get Great Business Travel Deals

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Whether you’re a private consultant paying your own bills (and tracking carefully for tax write-offs) or working for a massive company, you are surely being urged from one source or another to scale back your business expenses. With the higher prices for flights and gas, the basics are more expensive than ever before.

 
But there’s good news: There are ways to minimize expenses: 
 
Team Up the Visits
 
Try hard to avoid scheduling a trip to see just one client. Now’s the time to combine that visit with other appointments. Be proactive, and do some reach-outs before you even book the trip. “I’m going to be in the area and would love the further discuss…” is a great way to start. 
 
From there, schedule two or three straight days of meetings so you can 1) travel less, and 2) get the biggest bang for your buck when you do travel. 
 
Last-Minute Deals
 
Planning in advance can certainly save you money, but so can a last-minute decision, as well. Get reminders from various airlines and websites for good deals to your most often-visited cities. A quick phone call to your contacts, followed by booking the trips, can save you hundreds. 
 
Spontaneity can work really well, when you work it right. Some of the favorites to check out are Priceline, HotelsCheap.org, and Kayak. 
 
Go for the Bundle
 
Be proactive and organized when you book your flight. Be prepared to pick a hotel and car at the same time. The package deals sell well for a reason: They save money.
 
Stay Loyal
 
Pick a chain hotel that has lots of other properties, as well. Watch how fast the points and perks add up. Your choice of loyalty programs might not always be available, but when it is, it pays to book with your familiar choice. 
 
Spend Business-Trip Money the Same Way You’d Spend Your Own
 
You’re probably not wasteful and frivolous with your own personal checking account money; act accordingly when you travel on business. 
 
Use Your Smart Phone!
 
App developers and travel websites have been in a feeding frenzy. They should be! They are making it easier than ever before to book your travel while you are, quite literally, on the fly. 
 
Comparing deals has never been easier, and as a result, that makes all of the websites fiercely competitive. Take advantage of that! Consider the following sites:
 
BackBid: Set up a free account, book your hotel from the hotel’s home website, submit the reservation confirmation to BackBid, and watch the bidding for your business begin. If nothing else, it’s mere entertainment when you’re waiting for your next flight. 
 
Really, you’ll save money and you’ll get a kick out of getting the prompts on your smart phone that you’ve got an update on your eBay-auction-style set-up on BackBid. Great concept, isn’t it? 
 
HotelsCheap.org: You just got the call, text, or email that your travel plans have changed because your genius is needed in another city. Or someone cancelled on you, so that means another night right where you are. 
 
As you know, your business travel plans change constantly, and once again, on the fly, you can get excellent last-minute deals. When rooms are not booked to capacity, most hotels will offer deep discounts to websites like this one, and that’s when the consumer can take the win. 
 
As you can see by this HotelsCheap survey, there are loads of affordable options at quality resorts and hotels — even during busy holiday weekends.
 
Use That “Spare” Time
 
You well know the moving parts of the business traveler lifestyle: the commuter train, traffic in a taxi, the layovers, and the ever-popular sleepless night because of the upcoming presentation. These all become opportunities to click around on your smartphone and perhaps even get something checked off your to-do list. 
 
Find Balance
 
Nope. That’s not a joke. Use these ideas to free up some valuable time. As always, strive for a healthy work-life balance; get those tasks done, then sit back and take a break for a while.
 
How do you get great business travel deals?
 
Published: June 27, 2013
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