September 26, 2009

Getting More From the Airlines is Easier Than You Think

In these times of economic uncertainty, where every business is looking to cut costs and do more with less, there are a number of ways that you can reach your T&E spend objectives without making travel more of a hassle for your executives or line level travelers. The largest portion of most T&E budgets is air travel expense. It's easier than you think to have a major impact on this budget. This is due to airline programs that have flown under the radar for a number of years that can net your company perks for travel you're already doing. These "Corporate Frequent Flyer" programs work similarly to the individual travel programs that everyone is already familiar with. These corporate programs work similarly and in addition to the traditional programs. The major differentiators are that the individual frequent flyer programs give travelers credit for miles flown, and the corporate programs offer businesses additional benefits for all of the airfare dollars their travelers spend on an aggregate basis.

Let's look at exactly how they work. Your company needs to have an administrator assigned to each account. All the major U.S. airlines (and a number of off-shore carriers as well) offer these programs with slight variations. There are no minimums to meet in most cases and no membership fees to pay for being part of these programs. Most of my clients belong to all of them and take advantage of the benefits that each airline provides. The company administrator has the responsibility of registering your company with each airline and managing your program to ensure that the points you receive for your corporate travel are being applied. If your company uses a Travel Management Company to administer your program, make sure they are aware of your membership in these programs so they will include your ID number on all tickets your corporation purchases. You'll receive quarterly statements detailing points accrued for dollars spent. These points can be redeemed for any number perks depending upon each individual airline program. Most offer free tickets, upgrades, and status appointments. You can also purchase airline club memberships and other perks as well. These awards belong not to individual travelers, but to the corporation. Many of my clients use these awards to offset air spending and often use them for sales contests, holiday parties, etc.

If you have any questions regarding how these programs work or how your company can take advantage of these great offers, feel free to contact me.

Steve Baker
Baker Travel Corporate Group
Lake Forest, CA

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