Ever wonder what travel professionals do to get great deals on flights, hotels and rental cars? We did too, which is why we culled some of the best advice from corporate travel managers and other savvy travelers. Whether you’re a CEO or a staffer, use these tips before you book to help get the best prices, seats and rooms next time you travel.
Know When to Fly
According to several sources, the end of August/beginning of September and the end of December/beginning of January are two of the cheapest times to fly. Why? Travel burnout. Many people are done with their summer vacations and holiday travel. Business travel generally goes on break then too, especially between Christmas and New Year’s, so if possible, take advantage and book your trips during these december global holidays lulls.
Use Your Company’s Travel Agency
If you’re traveling for business and your company has an approved corporate travel agency, check with them first and see what they can do for you. Corporate travel managers can usually arrange better flight status and upgrades, such as better seats, upgraded boarding and security. Your company’s travel manager may also be able to negotiate better terms on hotel rooms and car rentals.
Booking through your company’s travel agency is also good for your company: In some cases, your company may receive rewards from the travel agency based on the miles flown or money spent, and then reward the company with those points for free trips for employees.
Take advantage of Travel Apps
Your Smartphone is one of the best traveling companions you can have on the road. There are tons of travel apps (applications) available designed to make your travel time easier and less stressful.
Start with the apps offered by the airlines, hotels and rental car companies you’ve already booked with. They’ll keep important numbers handy and help you stay aware of any flight delays, gate changes and upgrades coming your way. Some can even help you book a last minute flight and track lost luggage.
Sign Up for Loyalty Programs
Once you’ve decided on an airline, rental car company and hotel-but before you book them – go online and register for their loyalty programs. It usually takes a few minutes to register, and doing so can often entitle you to seat and room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, maybe access to the airport lounge.
Speaking of the Lounge
if you have access to the airport lounge-some offer a day pass for about $40-take advantage of it! In addition to getting out of the fray and enjoying relaxed seating, Wi-Fi, cocktails and television, many airport lounges also have ticket counters with trained agents, so you can avoid the lines and check in to your flight with ease. This is especially helpful if your flight has been delayed or canceled.
Register for Global Entry
If you’re a U.S. citizen and travel often, it may be time to go ahead and register for Global Entry and PreCheck. For about $100 and a background check, Global Entry allows approved U.S. citizens to skip Customs and Border Protection lines when entering the country.
And once you’re approved for Global Entry, you can register for PreCheck, which will allows “trusted travelers” to walk through the airport security metal detectors without having to remove your belt, shoes and jacket. You can even keep your bottle of water and computer in your bag.
The program is growing in popularity: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that 2 million people have already been approved for PreCheck, which is currently available at 19 U.S. airports. More are expected in the next few years.
Last, but not least, be nice.
One more tip from savvy travelers worth mentioning and remembering: Be nice to the gate agents and flight attendants. A sincere hello and patience with them can go a long way. Nine times out of 10, they’re doing the best they can and want to get there as fast as you do. A little kindness may be rewarded with a better seat, extra snacks, and at the very least a more pleasant flight.