Business travel can quickly become a financial black hole. It’s worthwhile developing a formula for keeping costs as low as practicable without compromising on comfort. The two areas responsible for the majority of cost blowouts: hotels and airfares, can both be minimised with a little effort.
1. HOTEL ROOM
Hotels advertise their rooms at a rack rate, which is similar to a recommended retail price and is generally the highest rate they think they can charge. Room prices in fact are much more fluid and the hotel industry is very responsive to demand. During peak season there will be little room to move on room prices, but at every other time a hotel will be open to negotiation.
There are a swag of specialised search engines that will help you find a cheap room, sometimes in a nice hotel. Try Googling terms such as ‘cheap hotel’ or ‘last minute hotel deal’. Some of these sites offer a ‘mystery room’, a riskier approach whereby you decide the price you want to pay and choose a room sight unseen.
You might also find that loyalty points accrued through a credit card can pay towards hotel stays. Certain clubs will give you access to discount rates at some hotel chains.
You can search for deals on another budget killer, the airfare, online. When it comes to airfares there are some other tips that will help you find the best price.
Airlines have mailing lists with special deals on tickets, you can usually sign up on the airline’s website. You are more likely to find a cheaper ticket or package deal during off-peak periods. The duration of these periods varies but you are guaranteed to pay more during school holiday times. Either way, book as early as possible because the cheapest tickets are always sold first.
Flying on weekdays is cheaper than flying weekends, and generally flying on Saturday is cheaper than on Sunday. Some cheap fares will require you to stay a minimum number of nights or over a weekend. It’s worth experimenting with the online flight scheduler to find the best combination.