5. Consider alternative airports. Airfares and car rental prices may vary wildly between airports across town or an hour or two apart by car. I've saved considerable sums flying into Newark instead of La Guardia, Chicago Midway instead of O'Hare, or Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami and vice versa, depending on local market conditions at any given time. It is always wise to check prices at all airports in the area.
6. Day trips vs. extended trips. With travel budgets under scrutiny, some corporations are encouraging travelers to take more one day trips, eliminating overnight hotel stays. Others are asking travelers to consolidate multiple stops, visits or meetings on a single trip to minimize airfare. Either option can be sound strategy, depending on the airfares and hotel rates in each situation.
7. Suite and extended stay hotels. Whenever possible, I try to stay in suite or extended-stay hotels, such as Marriott's Residence Inns or Hilton's Embassy Suites. These properties generally offer free breakfast, parking, and Internet access, and provide kitchens where you can store and cook your own food. Avoiding the costs of room service and other amenities offered by full-service hotels can offer tremendous savings.
8. Business- and first-class bargains. With many corporations trimming travel budgets and some companies downgrading travelers from first or business class to coach, this is an excellent time to locate bargains in the forward cabins as airlines struggle to fill those premium seats. It is also wise to shop across multiple airlines as first- and business-class fares may vary greatly on the same route. An increasing number of airlines now deploy yield management tactics in business and first class as they've done in coach for years, making it often less expensive to fly business/first class if purchased in advance or if you're willing to add a stop or connection en route. In many cases, airlines allow full-fare coach travelers to upgrade to business or first class for a modest fee, so it's always wise to inquire about this option as well.
9. Stronger dollar for cheaper travel abroad. One benefit of the dismal economic downturn is a strengthening U.S. dollar, making foreign travel less expensive than in previous years. In the last year, the U.S. dollar gained 25 percent against the Euro, 32 percent against the Canadian dollar, and a whopping 43 percent against the British Pound. If you have international business abroad, now is the time to go.
% These days travel suppliers increasingly harness the Internet to unload unsold inventory. In tough times, websites of all kinds abound with bargains and prices that might be lower than negotiated corporate rates. If you aren't locked into negotiated rates this is the time to scour the Internet for travel deals. Good travel deals may be found on hundreds of online travel retailer websites or directly on suppliers' sites. A free subscription to online newsletters offered by many travel suppliers and travel retailers will assure timely delivery of the latest Internet specials direct to your e-mail box as soon as they are available for purchase.
Travelers, are we missing any saving strategies? Please share your cost-saving tips below.
Send David your feedback: David Grossman is a veteran business traveler and former airline industry executive. He writes a column every other week on topics of interest and concern to business travelers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.