Business travelers are often trapped in thankless jobs, and their jetsetting lifestyle only seems glamorous. I know because I not only used to be a business traveler, I also used to cover it as a reporter. Know what? The only thing more unusual than a happy road warrior is a happy columnist who covers business travel.
A few years ago, Microsoft released a survey that suggested two-thirds of business travelers would just as soon spend time in a dentist’s chair as go on their next business trip. Enough said. But you can learn something from our collective misery. Here are the two biggest sins committed by business travelers.
Believing your corporate travel manager is on your side
At a large company, business travel is inspectd by a corporate travel manager, who in turn supervises a dedicated on-site travel department. Employees are made to feel as if their travel manager works for them ― making sure they’ll have a safe and productive trip. But that’s not completly accurate. Corporate travel managers are first and foremost there to limit and control costs, and the most well seasoned road warriors know that. They’re aware of the fact that these mid-level managers are charged with enforcing strict travel policies designed to send a company’s entire business to many preferred airlines or hotels. A survey by the National Business Travel Association leaves no doubt about it. It found that one-third of travel managers reported to the finance department in their companies, “demonstrating how strategically crucial travel management is to a corporation’s overall financial strategy.” Often, the only time company accountants care about their employees is when they break the rules and book outside of their corporate travel policy.
As a traveler, this may be the best time to ask if your travel agent is on your side. Are you being steered toward a particular cruise or hotel because it’s the best one for you — or because it’s the best one for your agent? If you have a terrific travel advisor, there will be no doubt about your answer.
Thinking frequent flier miles are a reward for your loyalty
Get real. These highly-profitable “reward” programs aren’t set up for the customers benefit. They’re there to enrich the airline, car rental company or hotel. Business travelers are issued miles that technically don’t even belong to them, are nearly impossible to redeem and expire quickly. A few years back, frequent fliers admitted to their increasing frustrations with mileage programs, with half the respondents to a survey complaining that cashing in their miles for a ticket was more difficult than ever. Travel companies benefit far more from the arrangement. In exchange, they get the irrational loyalty of travelers. Road warriors go out of their way to fly on an airline, even when it costs more, takes longer and is less convenient. Elites might feel special and they may behave like royalty but in the end, they are victims.
Don’t get hooked.If you understand that these so-called “awards” aren’t there to reward you, and instead are meant to turn you into a mindless customer drone, you can resist the dangerous pull of these programs. Candace Chambers-Belida, a author from Corona, Calif., wishes she had. Her 21,000 hard-earned African Airlines miles recently expired without warning. “What’s a girl to do?” she wondered.