When you applied for that job that requires travel, Stockton, Bakersfield and Plano were not what you had in mind. Don’t worry, that boring trip to Scranton can pay for a later trip to Paris, without violating company policies. The best way to spice up that bland hotel lobby food is to parlay your stay into a vacation you will enjoy at a later time. With a few strategic moves, you will be well on your way to a place you love, sans the business suit and laptop.
Company travel policies seem to fall into a few categories. The first approach, if you have a company credit card, is to split spending and flying credits between the company and the employee. Put simply, the company keeps the points earned for dollars spent and the employee keeps the frequent flier points. In this case, make sure to enter in your frequent flier number for everything you book–including hotels and rental cars.
The second approach to company travel policies is to require employees to book the absolute cheapest flights and cap the hotels at a reasonable rate. While most companies won’t require employees to stay at the Motel 6, they aren’t keen on the Ritz either. In these cases, companies like their employees to use consolidator sites such as Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz or Priceline.
If you are required to use a consolidator for hotels, use Hotels.com or Orbitz for your bookings. They will allow you to book at a variety of hotel chains and will give you credits for the number of nights stayed. They offer a book ten nights, get one night free and it is legit! In a given year, I tend to accumulate 3-4 free nights on Hotels.com, plus I get the Gold Membership which gives me hidden prices for personal trips and a dedicated customer service line with no hold time.
If company policy requires you to buy your plane tickets on a consolidator, do 2 things: 1) Book on Expedia to accumulate points for all dollars spent, and 2) Sign up for frequent flier accounts with all of the airlines you use. If you are traveling a lot for work, miles will build up faster than you think!
For an additional bonus, use Ebates to get cash back on your purchases. Sign up for an account, log in, and then purchase your flight/hotel/car. They give cash back on purchases and send you a check in the mail every few months. As long as you are logged in, it does not matter if you pay with a personal or a company credit card, that cash is yours to keep.