Doing your due diligence before booking a hotel helps to make business travel more profitable and less stressful. Think about your needs, from data to ground transportation, and make smart decisions that keep you focused on the work you need to do and the relationships you need to build.
Research WiFi Policies
Data charges are a hidden cost of business travel. Before booking a hotel, research WiFi policies carefully. Start with the in-room policies and confirm whether WiFi is available in the rooms or only in common areas or business centers. If the hotel offers free in-room WiFi, is it free for only one device at a time, or for multiple devices accessing the network at the same time (like your laptop and your phone)?
Convention centers and meeting spaces have different rules about wireless access, ranging from open access to all visitors and attendees to daily or weekly rates for wireless access. With this in mind, set a wireless access budget for your trip and choose a hotel that gives you as much free access as possible to save money where you can.
Consider your usage needs and decide on hotel and meeting locations accordingly. Based on your estimated cost for wireless access and your estimated usage needs, contact your data provider to ask if you can increase your data plan on a short-term basis to prevent you from getting hit with overage charges.
Factor in Transportation Costs
Once you have narrowed down a few safe, comfortable hotels and you have investigated their wireless access policies, it’s time to start doing some quick cost-benefit analysis.
Hotels outside the city center or a few miles from business and convention centers often cost less per night than those that are closer to the action. Before you make a decision based on per-night cost alone, investigate how you are going to get from where you are staying to where you need to go for the meetings and events that brought you to the area in the first place.
With your daily expense budget in mind, research public transportation options, including the cost, hours of operation and routes of trains and buses near the hotels you are considering. Next, look at the cost of taxis and other cars for hire in the area, and contact the hotels to find out if they offer low cost or no cost shuttle buses to airports, conference centers and other places you know you need to go.
Balance the per-night cost of the hotel against the daily cost of transportation. Often, you will find that by staying closer to where you need to be, you can save money and time on transportation costs, offsetting the higher per-night cost of the hotel.
Take Advantage of Specials
Though it requires an investment of time, researching promotions, rewards programs and packages can help you save money on your next business trip. Airline booking sites often offer package deals that save on the cost of lodging, and sometimes ground transportation, when you bundle your purchase.
Frequent flyer miles and credit card rewards points can reduce the total cost of travel and lodging as well. Take savings a step further and contact the hotel directly before you book to inquire about promotions they may be offering and to enroll in a hotel rewards program common among the major chain hotels, particularly those that cater to frequent business travelers.
When you are making consumer decisions, never lose your business owner perspective. Start conversations, ask smart questions and make decisions that protect your investments, large and small.