You road warriors out there know better than anyone how companies have clamped down on travel spending. No one needs to tell you the numbers: Even back in 2000, 60 percent of U.S. businesses had trimmed their budgets, and almost half were either negotiating better hotel rates or simply booking farther down on the star-ratings list.
"Most [businesspeople] are trying to travel smarter," says C. Thomas Nulty, president and COO of Navigant International, a corporate travel manager.
Yes, you're feeling the pinch. But the pinch doesn't have to hurt quite as much - if you plan your trips the right way. Here's our expert advice on how you can stretch your expense account, without sacrificing too much comfort in the name of the company.
A PLACE TO LAY YOUR HEAD
Judge a hotel by its fees and freebies. Surprise charges may be posted for electricity, phone access, parking, housekeeping, early departure, and safe deposit boxes. "A lot of the nickel-and-dime charges are negotiable," says Peter Greenberg, investigative travel analyst for NBC's Today Show. "If you fight them, they'll take them off." Just make sure to negotiate the fee waivers up front. Also, look for complimentary breakfast and executive-level privileges, where free faxes, beverages, and hors d'oeuvres may more than compensate for the fee.
Location saves money. Rates fall if you stay anywhere but in the business district. Stay at the airport versus downtown and you save an average of $101 in San Francisco, $58 in Los Angeles, and $50 in Chicago and Atlanta, says American Express' corporate travel division.