Many small business frequent travellers who take two or more pleasure trips a year have never used their travel points against the cost of those trips, according to a business award travel survey by the American Small Business Travellers Alliance (ASBTA).
The online travel survey of current and prospective members was conducted in June 2005 by ASBTA, a US-based non-profit organisation that provides services focused on small business owners' travel needs. The survey found that 31% of small business travellers take two or more pleasure trips each year, while 23% take more than four such trips each year.
Surprisingly, the survey also found that nearly half (47%) of respondents have never redeemed their various travel points (such as airline frequent flyer miles) for free or even reduced-price travel.
According to ASBTA's president, Chuck Sharp, "In many cases, these individuals are taking ten or more business trips each year, all of which have the potential to earn thousands of frequent flyer miles and affinity points - which can all be applied toward vacations that are either free or heavily discounted."
Frequent traveller programmes such as those offered by airlines, hotels and car rental companies tend to be free to join, and have the potential to help small business travellers benefit from miles and points for the services they use during business trips. ASBTA was surprised to find that many small business owners either aren't doing so or are not redeeming their points and miles, which of course could be redeemed during pleasure trips.
For example, National Car Rental's business loyalty scheme offers small businesses free membership of its Emerald Club programme for all travelling employees, allowing them to earn frequent flyer miles and coupons for later use on leisure rentals. And there are benefits to be gained at every turn. Hotel frequent guest loyalty programmes such as Hilton HHonors allow members to earn both HHonors points and airline miles on 55 participating airlines. The HHonors points earned can be used for a range of hotel bookings and services, or even stays at resort condominiums and Carnival cruises.
According to ASBTA, for many small business owners with regular business travel schedules, complete personalised vacation packages are also within reach using travel points, via services such as American Airlines Vacations. Although the service allows them to book all-inclusive packages, members of AAdvantage (the airline's frequent flyer programme) can apply as few as 500 miles toward particular services as part of their package deal, or use their miles to pay for an entire package.
Sharp told The Wise Marketer: "There are definite leisure travel benefits for small business travellers by simply using their travel points, but small business owners could also use these tools as an incentive for their employees, or even as gifts to clients and customers."
For example, Sharp cited programmes such as American Airlines' Business ExtrAA, which offers benefits for both the business owner and their employees. When an employee uses their Business ExtrAA account number when buying qualifying American Airlines tickets, they personally earn AAdvantage miles and the company also earns Business ExtrAA points (which can be redeemed for travel awards that may be given to clients, employees or friends).
Likewise, Starwood Preferred Business also credits both the business owner and the employee with Starpoints for their spend at Starwood hotels and resorts. These points can be redeemed for free nights, room upgrades and free airline flights. For the small business owner, points can also be used as employee rewards.
"We know from our survey that small business frequent travellers are not shying away from travelling during their leisure time. This makes it all the more important that small business travellers know they can make all those business trips a vehicle toward saving money on leisure trips," Sharp concluded.
For additional information:
· Visit ASBTA at http://www.asbta.com
· Visit National Car Rental at http://www.nationalcar.com
· Visit American Airlines at http://www.aavacations.com
· Visit American Airlines at http://www.businessextraa.com
· Visit Hilton HHonors at http://hhonors.hilton.com/en
· Visit Starwood at http://www.starwoodpreferredbusiness.com