JOE'S BUSINESS-TRAVEL BUYING GUIDES
By Joe Brancatelli
The eternal battle between business travelers and the travel industry seems to have an immutable front line: price. It goes without saying that the travel industry constantly tries to push prices up. We push back in an attempt to keep costs down. Then there are the skirmishes over fees, ups and extras.
Here is my current best thinking about buying airline fares, hotel rooms, rental cars and international business-class travel. Plus insight into general T&E expenditures and finding credit cards that don't charge foreign-exchange fees.
THE BEST T&E COST-MANAGEMENT TACTICS
Preventing your travel and entertainment budget from becoming a real cash drain isn't that difficult. All that it takes is some common sense and a few imaginative tactics, not a blanket ban on business travel. Conveniently, I have some useful new T&E tactics to try.
CHECKING IN ON HOTEL RATES NOW
Four in ten rooms are now empty on an average night in America. That's good news for bargain-hungry travelers. But nightly rates are rising off their 2008 lows. That's bad news for us. So what's a savvy business traveler to do in these uncertain lodging times? Think both tactically and strategically about your hotel needs and consider freshly minted tips for getting the best accommodations for the least money.
AIRLINE TICKET STRATEGIES NOW
Meet the new rules of buying airline travel. They're not the old rules of buying airline travel. In an era when the major airlines have unbundled virtually everything, you do have to rethink what you're buying, how you're buying it and how you can come to some strategy to purchase airline seats.
KEEPING CAR-RENTAL COSTS DOWN
Smaller fleets of older cars and rising demand mean that rentals costs are headed upward. So how do you keep your costs under control? It starts at the beginning of the process with where you make your reservation and literally continues until the moment you return your car. Here are my current best tips and thoughts on the process.
THE INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS-CLASS FARE BAZAAR
As airlines inflated the walk-up price of international business-class seats, they have also discounted like crazy. But, for the first time in years, there really do seem to be fewer international business-class deals around. And those that remain are higher in price and with more onerous purchase restrictions. Here's what you need to know about how and why you'll have to search harder to fly in style without breaking the bank.
HOW THE BANKS BITE BUSINESS TRAVELERS
Thanks to new federal laws and regulations, credit, debit and ATM card users are now protected from a battery of abusive practices and outrageous fees. Well, everyone but business travelers, that is. The financial institutions continue to charge us insane prices for foreign currency transactions--and they are even charging us exchange fees for some domestic transactions. But there is a way to fight back, if you pay attention to the cards you carry.
ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.
THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.
This column is Copyright © 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.