Even with business picking up in most industries, frugality still is the name of the game. To help you keep the green in your pocket when planning your next meeting, we’ve rounded up the following travel bargain suggestions.
Book ahead – far ahead. While you can scoop up bargains on last-minute fares, usually you end up paying through the nose for travel and rooms booked with a short lead time. While it’s no news that booking ahead can save you money, it’s worth repeating; book up to a year before your trip. You always can take advantage of lower prices if rates fall at a later date.
Travel during shoulder times. Plan a meeting in the Caribbean or in ski territory in April and you can save big. Try www.offpeaktraveler.com for more information, especially if attendees are booking their own travel.
Hit the Web. It seems like every time you turn around there’s yet another travel or shopping Website intended to save you and your company money. In fact, it can be tough to keep track of them all. With travel bargains appearing everywhere, you need a way to find the best price. Mobissimo Travel, (www.mobissimo.com) truly the one-stop shop for travelers, can help out. The site searches dozens of travel suppliers simultaneously and returns the best deals to you in a no-hassle manner. SideStep (www.sidestep.com) is another site worth checking out for discounted hotel and airline deals.
Wave the rental insurance. Should you or shouldn’t you? In most cases it’s okay to pass on the rental insurance because individual or corporate liability and collision coverage applies to rentals as well. Also, corporate charge cards and gold- and platinum-level credit cards often provide coverage. Check your company policies and tell travelers about the most advantageous option. By waiving the insurance, the savings add up.
Ask about those hotel fees. Daily portage, gym fees and Internet access can add up. In fact, they brought an estimated $1.2 billion to the U.S. lodging industry last year. Keep some of that for yourself by asking beforehand for an itemized list of charges and then have those you won’t be using (valet parking, for example) removed when you’re traveling on your own. If you’re booking rooms for a group, all these fees are fair fodder for negotiations.
Skip the high-end meals. If you’re planning a big event you might be able to forego a five-course gourmet dinner in favor of lighter fare. After all, salespeople are on the road and in restaurants frequently, so another steak dinner doesn’t mean much. Instead, give attendees the evening off and provide them a list of local sites to see. The free time will earn you more goodwill than an entire side of Kobe beef.