Scenario: Your boss pulls you aside on Monday morning and tells you to hop on the first available flight to Phoenix so you can broker a make-or-break deal with a potential whale of a client. You’ll be staying overnight and will need to reserve a rental car as well. Do you know what to do?
At this point your head is probably swimming with frustrations and thoughts. You feel the pressure that comes with the faith your boss has placed in you, and you’re probably also dreaming of the glory to be had if you succeed. The last thing you want to focus on now is booking all of your travel arrangements, but it must be done. If you don’t have a series of travel-related bookmarks already saved in your Internet browser, start a folder now and include following sites.
Once you’ve registered with an e-mail address and password, Orbitz allows you to track down great deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars from a wide variety of carriers. You can book all three at once and save big in the process.
Expedia works in the same way that Orbitz does. Create an account and shop for deals on hotels, rental cars, and flights. And be sure to visit the “Corporate Travel” section for special business deals.
CheapTickets offers multiple ways to book your business trip. You can book just a flight, or you can book a flight and a car, or you can book a flight, a car, and hotel all at once. Don’t forget to check out the “Last Minute Trips” section.
Travelocity recently launched Travelocity Business, a full-service corporate travel agency that aims to reduce the cost of business travel for companies by negotiating exclusive airfare rates, travel reports, and one-stop flight, car rental, and hotel packages.
Don’t simply add one of the above sites to your travel bookmark folder — add all of them. Although each searches a variety of carriers to come up with their best deal, none on its own is truly comprehensive.
There are other advantages that come with booking last-minute business travel online. For starters, most airlines allow you to print your boarding passes from your computer. Part of this process involves declaring baggage; but if nothing needs to be checked, you can go straight to your gate. Also, the best deals on hotel rooms are now found online. If you must use the phone to arrange your flight and rental car, try at least to book your lodging online.
Be sure to bookmark individual airline Web sites as well, especially budget carriers like Southwest and JetBlue. If you already have a favorite airline, you can book your flight through them if you prefer, especially if you’re accruing frequent flyer miles.
Don’t, in your haste, forget to pack toiletry necessities like mouthwash, a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs for the flight, and any other items you know you’ll need for a last-minute overnight trip. It’s also a good idea to have business attire set aside in your closet for just such an emergency.
Finally, if on-the-fly business trips are something you’re going to have to get used to with your job, create a checklist of all the things you need to do in preparing for one. To ensure the list is available when the need arises, keep a copy of it at home and at the office.
Be sure to check out our Business Travel Center for helpful tools, services, articles, and advice.