Even if you’re an experienced business traveler, there are a few little things you can do to make your next travel experience more expedient, efficient, and economical. Based on our own experiences, as well as those of some of our customers, these are a few travel hacks you can do to save money, time, and your sanity.
Pay premium for the direct flight. The old axiom is true: time is money. And if you’re a business traveler, you’re losing money while you’re in transit, which means you need to find a way to shorten that time. Traveling more legs than necessary just to save money actually decreases your productivity, which costs you more money in the long run.
Every segment you add to a flight also increases the risk of delay or cancellation, which costs time as well as energy. Plus, those who book full-fare tickets, even if they’re in economy, are more likely to get an upgrade if it’s available because the gate agent will know the price you paid by a code on the ticket. Remember, if you get to your destination sooner, you can start working sooner.
Negotiate with car rental agencies. Did you even know you could do this? According to some of our experienced business travelers, you can. While premium cars are more expensive, rental agents may be willing to negotiate if there are available cars in this category, and if they’re not pressed for time with lots of customers behind you.
Just in time for the recent busy holiday travel season, American and United both launched automated screening lanes in order to help lessen the bottleneck in the TSA checkpoints, a serious problem travelers faced in summer 2016.
The two airlines followed the lead of Delta, which partnered with TSA in May 2016 at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. Delta underwrote $1 million dollars of the total TSA investment to bring the automation to the Atlanta airport.
The automated screening lanes feature the following innovations:
- Stainless steel countertops that enable several passengers to place their items in bins simultaneously;
- Automated conveyor belts that draw bins into the X-ray machines, and return them to the front of the queue;
- Bags identified as a potential threat are automatically pushed to a separate area to allow bins behind it to continue through the screening process uninterrupted;
- Property bins that are 25 percent larger than the bins in standard screening lanes in order to accommodate roller bags; Read more
Delta has just added another way its SkyMiles members can accrue points toward reward travel, and you can get them just by sleeping on your next trip. Besides booking flights and making purchases with a Delta credit card, now members can earn points when they choose Airbnb as their lodging. Members must book lodging through deltaairbnb.com, and earn one mile for every dollar they spend.
We’ve been fans of Airbnb for a
and recently talked about how Airbnb is returning to its roots and working to attract business travelers.
The arrangement has benefits for new Airbnb members too who are looking to “Fly Global, Live Local,” with $25 credit earned toward any stay totaling $75 or more if they book via the Delta dedicated site within 60 days of opening a new Airbnb account. In addition to the flat mile per dollar deal, those whose stay totals $75 will earn an extra 500 miles, and those whose stay totals $150 or more will earn 1000 extra miles.
The benefits aren’t just one-sided. New Airbnb hosts can incent their potential customers by advertising the partnership and can accumulate miles with Delta in the following increments:
All that time you spend waiting for your flight, sitting on the plane, and commuting to your hotel can be productive time instead of wasted time. You just need to develop a strategy and create the proper mindset. Here are some tips to help you stay productive while traveling.
Plan ahead. You may be geared up to empty your inbox, but if your laptop’s not charged, you aren’t going to make much headway. Be sure to download any documents you need before you leave in order to accomplish a task you’ve relegated to be completed en route. This eliminates the need for wifi or using your mobile hotspot.
Use the time you have wisely. If you’re in a crowded gate or you have a limited amount of time, now is not the time to read through correspondence or memos that require your full attention. Choose some B-level items to check off your to-do list, like those articles you’ve meant to skim for the last six months, and you’ll actually be more effective than if you try to tackle something that requires serious time and concentration.
Determine to focus. Yes, distractions are hard to tune out, but if you put yourself in that mindset, you can do it. Soon, you’ll find they’re calling your flight and you have more things accomplished — and time flew by — because you were able to shut out the distractions.
It can be the ripple effect of a storm or a part that needs to be replaced that they’re waiting to arrive on an incoming flight or some other situation that is completely out of your control. Whatever the reason, when you learn your flight is about to be delayed for many hours, that is not the time to think about how you’re going to weather the situation. You should plan ahead.
Here are a few tips for surviving those dreaded crazy long flight delays.
Be prepared before you leave home. I don’t mean you have to try to figure out how to fit a sleeping bag in your carry on, but if you plan to have a few items with you, you’ll be in better shape than most to ride out the wait.
For women, think about incorporating a blanket scarf into your wardrobe choices so that it’s already in your luggage and can serve as a true blanket if you have to bed down on the floor or create a makeshift bed at the gate. Some fuzzy socks will keep your feet warm and a toothbrush and toothpaste will help you feel mostly human and not offensive to others, should you have to spend the night in the terminal.
Perhaps the trickiest part of business travel is getting the work that is generated from that travel done while you’re not in the office. Here are some ways to keep your productivity at its peak even though you’re not sitting at your desk.
You may not think this first tip is an effective use of time, but we think it can be a game changer. Creating a strategy for completing the work you need to do before you dive in will give you a guide to keep you on task and on track once you hit the ground. Using your travel time to get organized may be the most helpful thing you can do to make the best use of your time once you arrive.
Once you’ve formulated your strategy, organize your devices by decluttering your inbox by listening to voicemail messages, deleting junk emails, filing documents into folders, and clearing out old emails that you don’t need any more. Plowing through the plethora of unorganized details will translate into increased productivity when the real work begins.
Get your own hotspot. Don’t depend on the wifi at the airport or the hotel. Carriers have these portable devices, or your smartphone may have an integrated hotspot mode as part of their service. These provide truly high speed internet access on the go. For a monthly fee, which you may be able to expense, you have the peace of mind that you’ll have the internet you need to do your work anywhere, anytime. Plus it’s a lot more secure than public wifi.
With the steadily increasing popularity of Uber and Lyft, it seems ride sharing is becoming a popular mode of transportation for business travel. If you rely on it regularly, what are the best ways to save money? We’ve done some research and here’s what we found:
Booking in advance allows you to secure a ride when you need it, instead of waiting when you’d really rather be on your way. You’ll save money by scheduling your ride when you know it’s not rush hour. If you use Lyft, scheduling locks in your fare; Uber doesn’t offer that feature.
Search online for coupons. Both companies are competing for customers, so do a little poking around on either company’s official site or at sites like Groupon. Uber offers free rides for those who refer a friend who downloads the app, so if you’re traveling with a friend, have him or her download the app with your referral link, and you can both get a free ride to wherever you’re going.
Avoid traveling during surges. Fares are adjusted automatically, based on demand. For example, prices soar after events because of the demand for drivers, so if you can wait, the cost will drop. Don’t think you’ll get the average fare for a trip you’ve taken before if you’re among the throngs waiting for a ride.
It’s every weary traveler’s nightmare scenario: the flight you’re supposed to be on is canceled. What you do next will determine whether your day is totally ruined or ultimately redeemed. Not every situation can be remedied, but knowing a few action steps can make all the difference in getting you to your destination.
Get on the phone.
The faster you get on the phone with the airline to rebook your flight, the better your chances are of making it to your final destination. It’ll do you little good to stand in the long line with everyone else who’s waiting to speak with the ticket agent at the gate. Tip: If you feel like talking to a gate agent, go to another gate of the same airline where a flight recently left. They’re all plugged into the same system, and can do just as much for you as your original gate’s agent.
Adjust your itinerary.
Be sure to have some alternatives in mind, because the agents don’t always know the destination region where you’re flying. For example, you may not be able to get into Chicago due to weather, but if Chicago is your final destination, you could reroute through Milwaukee or even Indianapolis and be within driving distance of the Windy City. Thinking through your options and presenting them to whomever you’re working with to rebook your flight will let the agent know you’re flexible.
We’ve reported here before about the increased use of RFID chips in checked luggage and luggage tags to tilt the odds that your bag will arrive with you at your final destination in your favor. There have been new innovations in the effort to reduce lost bags, this time from Delta. Once you see what they’ve been doing, you may never look at those little paper baggage tags the same again.
This year, Delta has implemented RFID technology into its complimentary baggage tags, eliminating the possibility of a bag being unscanned due to a smudged, wrinkled, torn, or obscured tag. Now, in every airport where Delta operates, its bags only need to be be in proximity to the radio scanners to be accounted for. As with the older tags, fliers can track their checked bags using Delta’s mobile app.
Implementing these kinds of changes can be costly and disruptive because they require infrastructure adjustments. While some airports, such as Las Vegas’ McCarren International Airport, have been using RFID for over a decade, any new tracking system is typically the responsibility of the individual airline.
Delta spent $50 million on the system, which included scanners, printers, and said tags. Widespread use of these types of tags has been slow to come online in the airline industry, according to the International Air Travel Association. But the deadline for all 265 member airlines to be able to fully track and trace all bags is 2018. And the system is expected to work, not only on an airline’s own flights, but also connecting flights with another carrier.
It’s our worst nightmare: you’re traveling and your phone is either lost or stolen. What’s the first thing you should do? According to Asurion, a technology solutions company, 19 million people have had this happen. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s what you can do.
First, try calling or texting your phone. If you’ve lost it, the device may have been found by someone honest. If you’re traveling with someone, you can use their contact information to request a call back, or you can leave the number of the front desk at your hotel and follow up later in the day. Your lock screen will display your most recent text, so send a short message to your phone and hope your Good Samaritan will see it and call you back.
Be sure your phone’s “find my phone” feature is activated. This will enable you to discover its location for retrieval and if you share your account with other users, they too can see the device’s location. Unfortunately, if the phone is powered down, this feature doesn’t work.
Be sure your lock screen is enabled. It may seem like a pain to have to authenticate yourself with your fingerprint or a code every time your phone lapses into sleep mode, but it protects your valuable data. Apple’s lock mode will allow you to access your device remotely and either disable it or display a custom message. It also allows you to disable ApplePay.