You are booking travel for the "big" meeting. Going budget just doesn't cut it, you need to be well-rested, prepared to entertain your client, and not be embarrassed by your car or hotel choice. But the potential cost of “business fabulous” is a bit more than your travel budget can bear.
What's an entrepreneur to do?
Have no fear, there is always a way around paying premium prices -- and sometimes it is as simple as being nice. As I am fan of traveling in style, here are some of my tried and true travel tips:
1. Shop for airfare on Tuesday and Wednesday morning for the best prices; the cheapest day to fly is usually Wednesday (unless, of course, that's the day before a holiday).
2. Call around to the hotels you prefer and find out which ones have lower occupancy rates. Reach out to the manager during the slow time of the day (usually late night or really early in the morning) and ask, nicely, if they could extend a discount. If this is a larger chain you would like to use more frequently, mention your willingness to become a loyal business travel client.
3. Pack light. Checked or overweight luggage for a round- trip flight starts at $50 and goes up from there. Pack a dark suit or two, a couple of neutral separates, some shirts and accessories to provide a different look and take you from day to night. Ladies, only pack two pairs of shoes. OK, three max, but only if one pair is a flat.
4. Be honest and make people partners in your success. After politely explaining to an airline phone agent that I only had 25k miles for a trip that required 36k miles -- and I was on my way to an important meeting -- they allowed me to purchase the ticket with the miles I had. They were excited to save the day, and I rewarded their kindness with repeat business and a nice letter to agent's supervisor.
5. Join travelhacking.org and earn free plane tickets. They help you earn thousands of free miles before you ever get on the plane by notifying you of opportunities to score frequent flyer miles.
6. Take the red eye to save a night at a hotel and arrange for early check-in.
7. Make a rental reservation for a compact or mid-sized car and negotiate an upgrade to a larger automobile at the counter. This normally works best in an airport location as most have larger inventories than hotel and neighborhood facilities. This is a win-win, as you have a discounted luxury car perfect for clients, and the company has secured additional dollars from you and moved a car category that oftentimes is less likely to be rented.
Jetta Bates-Vasilatos is founder of Twist Communications and a life stylist with 10+ years of award-winning consumer engagement/strategic planning experience for luxury and global brands like BMW and Coca-Cola. She also serves as an on-air correspondent and writer with a focus on luxury and experiential tourism, lifestyle, sustainability, and personal finance (how to be chic yet savvy). Jetta has appeared on stations such as WCIU-TV, KBS-TV(Korea), ABC-7, CLTV and KBC-TV (Kenya), writes for national print publications such as Essence, Recommend, Ebony and HomeStyle Design and is the host of the Jettasetting segment on WVON radio.