Travel Advice for Business Professionals – Part 4
(If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.)
(If you missed Part 2, you can find it here.)
(If you missed Part 3, you can find it here.)
As we continue to explore the nuances of business travel, today we’ll be looking at the validity and uses of loyalty offers and frequent flyer programs for business travellers – both frequent and infrequent.
Loyalty programs are described by Investopedia as “a program offered by a company to customers who frequently make purchases.” Loyalty programs can come in a variety of forms – some measure dollars spent, others recognise frequency of use. Rewards come in various forms, also – some companies will reward dollars spent with a voucher for your next visit, or they’ll operate on a tiered system where you have access to exclusive products or services as you become a more loyal customer. There’s a huge variety of programs out there, with a great deal of different rewards and uses. Here are a few things to consider when utilising loyalty programs for business travel purposes.
Frequent Flyer Programs – What are they?
In Australia, two major airlines provide loyalty programs. The Qantas Frequent Flyer program, and Velocity (run by Virgin Australia), are hugely popular for frequent travellers. Both programs operate on a Points basis – everytime you fly with Qantas, Virgin or one of their several airline partners, you are awarded points. Those points are then available to use on a variety of products – flights and flight upgrades, stays at partner hotels and even consumer goods.
So why is this advantageous for business travellers?
Discounts and Opportunities:
Though consumer goods are rarely discounted when sold for frequent flyer points, there are plenty of other opportunities to use them. As a business traveller, it may be worthwhile to use loyalty program points to pay for a portion of your hotel stay, or even for a rental car if required. Every airline has deals, discounts and opportunities with their hotel and car hire counterparts. This can make business trips more comfortable, cheaper, or even less stressful if the trip has been organised quickly.
There are business credit cards available from a variety of finance providers, through which you can earn frequent flyer points for every dollar spent. These do add up – so it’s worth investigating if your bank offers such a program.
Additional Benefits for Business Owners:
In addition to its standard frequent flyer program discounts and benefits, Qantas also offers a specialty business frequent flyer program called Aquire. Aquire is specifically for frequent business travellers – so the options through which you can earn Aquire points are more business-focused. Buying stationary, taking out business insurance and even working with HR agencies can earn you Aquire points – which can then be used for flights, upgrades, hotel stays and required consumer goods. This is especially beneficial for small businesses – though travelling can be costly, earning points towards benefits is great for business owners.
Join Up to Earn More:
Australia is just one market for frequent flyer programs – for those business travellers who are consistently flying domestically, just joining the Qantas or Virgin frequent flyer programs may be enough to see some benefits. However, there are several available overseas also, many of which are huge organisations of several airlines that offer rewards to all members flying on any of the partnered airlines. The OneWorld Alliance, just one multi-airline rewards program, includes Qantas, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, American Airlines and British Airways just to name a few. The Star Alliance is another worldwide multi-airline program, partnering leading airlines such as United Airlines, Air Canada, Air New Zealand and Lufthansa. Look into joining alliance reward programs if you travel nationally and internationally on a range of airlines – this will help you to boost your benefits.
Many frequent flyer programs offer the higher level users of their schemes lounge access in a variety of airports domestically and internationally. This can be a major blessing, or even a necessity, for some business travellers. Most airline lounges offer food services, seat selection, business stations and free WiFi – invaluable for those working whilst travelling. Lounge access gives business travellers an opportunity to check in with the office and enjoy a good meal before take-off – which some see as crucial. They’re also great for business travellers who have short stop-overs or are delayed for some reason – many airport lounges have shower facilities and quiet rooms, allowing you an opportunity to clean yourself up and even take a nap before your delayed flight gets moving again.
Hotel Loyalty – How You Can Use It
Hotels also offer loyalty rewards for frequent customers to their chains. It builds brand association, and keeps repeat customers both happy and interested. Much like frequent flyer programs, loyalty programs for accommodation providers could potentially be advantageous for business travellers – if you or your business have a strong relationship with one chain or brand over others, there are a few key benefits you may receive.
Pick Your Preferred Provider:
Leading hotel chains across the world have reward programs in place – the Hilton, for example, has Hilton Honors. The Marriot offers Marriott Rewards, the Hyatt offers Hyatt Gold Passports to its frequent guests. These chains, and their affiliated hotel brands, can offer you a place to stay in many major cities around the world – a great advantage for many business travellers, who wish to be assured of the quality of their accommodation regardless of their location in the world.
Sometimes It Is The ‘Little Things’:
Every program allows for different opportunities to utilise your status and points. Room upgrades, vouchers for hotel restaurants, discounted or free additional nights – they’re all possible with most loyalty programs. Your loyalty to one chain may also work in smaller forms – for example, you may be offered free internet for the duration of your stay which would be a huge advantage for any business traveller. Those loyal to a brand may also find that a room is made available to them earlier – great for travellers dealing with jetlag. Sometimes, with loyalty programs, the reward is in the little comforts rather than large savings.
Are you a frequent flyer, or someone with status points in a hotel’s loyalty program? How do you take advantage of the offers and benefits available to you when travelling for business?
This article was written by Simone Ball on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Travel and Leisure, Travel Channel, Australian Business Traveller and Aquire.