Monday 29 November 2010

Don't assume you can only afford cattle class

Like everything in this world, business travel is a tale of two halves. On one side of the story is the business traveller. And on the other, the business travel buyer. Both are driven by very different needs. Can there ever be a happy ending?

Despite being more conscious than ever of his own travel costs following two years struggling through a recession, the business traveller still wants a little luxury. The business travel buyer on the other hand is driven by cost and thinks he can’t afford to buy luxury. His budgets were battered during the recession and are showing only faint signs of a stronger pulse as we enter 2011.

So how do buyers keep standards up and travellers happy when there is so much pressure to make budgets stretch further? How do they buy luxury at affordable prices?

Interestingly, the answer to maximising your budget doesn’t always lie in getting the cheapest price. In fact, there isn’t just one answer at all, which is why I’d like to suggest four.

Number one – always ask for more. Never assume you can only have what you can afford and never underestimate how far travel suppliers are prepared to bend to win business.

If you think you can only afford the 3* option, push for a 4* solution for the same price. If you have a 4* budget, then negotiate for free add-ons. For example, when booking accommodation, ask for room upgrades from standard to executive, complimentary breakfast, Wi-Fi connections, access to business lounge services and spa treatments. 

And when buying flights, instead of fighting aimlessly for seat discounts, why not try negotiating for a free upgrade? You can always stretch your pounds further by pushing for complimentary lounge access, kerbside check-in, chauffeur pick up, extra baggage allowance or travel insurance.

And don’t limit your negotiating skills to just flights and accommodation, either, many of these tricks can also be applied when booking ground transportation or conference and meeting facilities.

Number two – consider different purchasing options. To get the best price and the best deal, you may want to consider purchasing alternatives such as reverse auctions (perfect for hotel deals), consortia buying (the best option for car rental), spot buying and hedging (both better suited to airline bookings).

Number three – ask the experts. During a recession, the knee-jerk reaction from business can often be to consolidate suppliers or keep things in-house to keep costs to a minimum. But when it comes to buying travel and meetings, this can lead to a false economy. Expert suppliers, such as travel management companies, hotel booking agents and event management companies, can - through a combination of their expertise and buying power – cut your costs, get you a better deal and save you time and effort.

Number four – visit BTMS. Well, I would say that, wouldn’t I? But it’s true. At BTMS, buyers can meet the biggest gathering of world leading travel brands in Europe, access a first-class free-to-attend educational programme and connect with more than 5,200 of Europe’s most powerful travel and meetings professionals to kick-start new relationships from right across the UK and Europe – all under one roof.

Posted by David Chapple, event director, Business Travel & Meetings Show


  1. I suggest travelers should stretch out their pounds for a travel insurance. This might be very helpful when things doesn't seem to get along with you.

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