By Mark Chesnut
A recent survey of senior corporate travel buyers commissioned by the Business Travel Show has revealed that budgets are on the increase for 2013. But that doesn’t mean that business travelers aren’t keeping an eye on expenses. For anyone looking to make affordable business travel one of their New Year’s resolutions, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1. Book early, and avoid peak travel periods. If possible, it’s a good idea to scour Orbitz for airfares well before your travel dates. Avoiding peak holiday travel periods is another way to ensure you’ll get good deals. You also might want to avoid traveling on Mondays and Fridays, which sometimes are more expensive travel times due to demand. Check the Weekly Deals section on Orbitz for good rates on flights, car rentals and hotels.
2. Stay loyal. If you stick with the same airline and hotel group, you’re more likely to achieve elite status and get extras like free upgrades and free baggage checks. You may also want to consider getting an airline-issued credit card; several of them include extras like free baggage allowances.
3. Get the amenities you want. If the additional fees that some luxury hotels charge are starting to wear down your budget, consider going midscale. You’ll get extras like breakfast and Wi-Fi for free at many mid-priced chains. Check out brands in the Marriott International family of hotels, including Fairfield Inn & Suites and SpringHill Suites, as well as InterContinental Hotels Group properties like Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites.
4. Use mass transit. Some cities—such as New York City, San Francisco and Washington D.C.—are well equipped with efficient and economical mass transit, which can help business travelers avoid pricey taxi rides to and from the airport and between appointments.
5. Economize on meals. If you need to invite a client or colleague out for a meal, remember that lunch is often less expensive than dinner. And keep an eye out for hotel meal specials and other offers. In Dallas, Hotel ZaZa is offering special meal deals to celebrate its 10-year anniversary throughout the month of January, with all lunch items priced at $10 every day throughout the month, $10 bottles of house wines on Monday; on Wednesday, if you buy one steak entrée, you’ll get the second for just $10.
Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on travel to Latin America. His travel budget is miniscule.