Booking last-minute travel should be a punishment saved for the most unruly of employees, but it’s unfortunately a reality every travel coordinator must face. When a big contract is on the line, only a face-to-face meeting will do, and that’s why you have to be the rock star you are to secure flights, reserve hotel rooms, organize car service to LAX, and do it all without draining the travel budget for the year on one trip.
Because airlines and hotels are notorious for taking advantage of last-minute travelers, you have to be savvy and know where to look to get great deals. The best way to strut your stuff as a travel coordinator is to prepare well, and that means having your solutions in place long before the problem arrives. With these five tips, you’ll be prepared for anything.
Join the Rewards or Loyalty Programs
No matter how many different airlines or hotels your boss likes to use on a regular basis, you should sign him or her up for all of them. You can fill out the applications online, and most have zero fees associated with membership. Even if you take several hours out of your day to get your executive squared away with every loyalty program you can think of, you can be sure you’ll gain that time back in the future. When last-minute travel comes up, you can use your executive’s status with each company to get hotel rooms at corporate discounts or plane tickets with potential upgrades. Check out this table posted by Loyalty Traveler, which breaks down some of the biggest benefits for each of the reward programs.
Call the Hotel Directly
Even if you’ve always used the online booking service or called the provided 800-number, you should contact the hotel itself when booking last-minute trips. When you talk to the hotel manager, you’re more likely to get the corporate discounts and other potential discounts on top of that. If your boss will be checking in at the last possible minute, you could get even steeper discounts. Hotels rarely operate at capacity, so many are happy to offer a significantly cut rate in order to fill more rooms.
Contact Your Preferred Airline
As with the hotels, calling the airlines directly can really help you save a lot of money in the long run. If the flights are full, there isn’t anything anyone can do. However, your boss’s favorite airline may be willing to shake things up a bit to keep him or her from getting on someone else’s airplane. You may even be able to finagle an upgrade to business or first class out of the deal, especially if your boss prefers to travel with the airline often.
Secure Car Service
If your executive is traveling at the last minute, he or she will likely feel rushed throughout the duration of the trip. There is no better way to inspire relaxation and confidence than car service to and from LAX. By reserving the car right away, you can ensure that a luxury sedan or limousine is waiting to pick up your boss and carry him or her to the important meeting in style, while also cutting down on the time it takes to find taxis or figure out the public transportation system. The luxury sedan will also offer a chance to recharge electronic devices, which absolutely never happens in a cab or on a bus.
The Tripit app will help you any time you need to schedule corporate travel, but it becomes invaluable with last-minute trips. This app helps you keep all information together in one place, eliminating the need for big, involved travel dossiers. As you’re putting together a quick trip, you may not have the time to compile all the information into a file for your boss. With Tripit, you can organize all the hotel, flight, and car information in one place where you can both access it at all times. This will eliminate the need for scrolling through endless emails, keeping up with paper files, and even delving into your contact list when you need specific phone numbers. It’s all right there.
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