Travel is now a part of many business people's lives at some time or other but traveling can be an expensive business and searching for convenience and value should be part of your initial preparation. Thanks largely to the ability to make bookings for flights and accommodation over the Internet, there are now a number of ways to search out opportunities that can reduce business travel costs.
Air fares can be slashed
It really pays to shop around for air fares instead of just making reservations through your "usual" source. There are budget airlines with much lower standard fares than other carriers, but even the big-name airlines have specially discounted rates at some periods. Also check out the last minute specials that most airline web sites include before making your reservations.
The fare of a flight is often based on seasonal prices at the time of purchase, regardless of when the flight will be made, so if possible book your trips during relatively low load times. Also, prices in the middle of the week will usually be cheaper than prices at the end of the week, so a trip from Wednesday to Wednesday will cost less than from Saturday to Saturday.
Slam the door on hotel room costs
The accommodation business has undergone dramatic changes in recent years. Most properties now have what might be called "asking" prices (or "rack rates") that only the unwary or those who can afford not to care about money would pay.
There are three basic ways of working around the rack rates and finding out what cheaper rates are on offer. The first is to go to a site that lists discounted rates and packages at specific hotels and motels. The second is to go to a site that lets you specify the location and type of accommodation but find the best deal from a range of matching properties. The last is to go to the big name hotel (after you've checked out the discount rates) and see if they can match or beat the other offers. Also look for packages that include meals and hotel facilities at no extra cost.
Look for competitive car rental rates
The same thing that's happened to air fares and hotel rates has also happened to car rental rates. When you're making a reservation for a vehicle at your destination specify something small and inexpensive. At the very worst they'll have it and you'll save money. But there's also a chance that you'll be upgraded and get something better for the same amount.
Another way to save big is to shop for rental rates on the Internet and look for daily specials on the day you intend arriving. And don't get pressured into buying expensive insurance while you're driving a rental - you may be covered by your own vehicle policy anyway. Check first.
Don't spend unwisely while traveling
It's always tempting to use the mini-bar in your hotel room as a source of snacks and drinks, but you're paying a very high premium for the privilege. It's far better to bring these items with you and use the hotel's refrigerator, ice and glasses that cost nothing extra.
Another way to purchase things at sky-high prices is to buy from the catalogue or trolley you see on some airlines while you're cruising at 10,000 metres. Do you really need these things anyway, and why would you pay higher prices for them here than you would when your feet are on the ground?
It's now possible to make phone calls and send e-mail from commercial aircraft, but of course you're going to pay a lot more than you would on the ground. Unless messaging is absolutely essential, wait until you've landed. Almost as expensive are the calls from your hotel telephone. Use a cellular phone or pay phone and you'll only pay half as much.
Room service in hotels is always a great treat but you're paying a lot extra for it (and probably tipping as well). Most properties have a range of eating establishments and you don't have to eat in the most expensive one. You'll also save by not taking advantage of the hotel's laundry and dry cleaning services - the shop up the street will be a lot cheaper.