TPG reader Adam writes:
“My girlfriend recently got a job as a receptionist. She’ll be doing all of the travel booking for the company … however, individuals will be using their corporate credit cards to book.
Are there any rewards programs (hotel, air, or AmEx) that allow assistants to make points for choosing that hotel/air program over others?”
First things first, she will need to clear with her employer whether it’s okay to collect points for the travel she books. It’s better to be safe than sorry- no amount of points is worth losing your job- especially in this economy. My honest advice would be to inform her manager about the programs I’m going to mention in order to add value to the company and cement your standing. Assuming they are okay with it (or for any small business owners out there) here are some ways to get points and save money on your travel spend:
Set up a Big Crumbs referral account and book travel though Expedia via Big Crumbs and get $3.20 in cash back per flight, 1.6% of hotels, 3.2% of any packages and 2.4% of car rentals. That could add up.
If you book airfare directly through airline websites, you can create a business account and earn business points for all flights booked. Most airline business programs take a ton of purchases to get any meaningful rewards, but it’s better than nothing.
American has the Business ExtrAA program. “Your company will receive one point for each $10 you spend to fly on published fares during the month. Your company will earn double credit for every eligible itinerary that originates from one of over 200 airports [excludes Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Miami (MIA)]“ Gary at View From the Wing recently blogged that it may be possible to earn an extra 5,000 AA miles for signing up using promo code SME3Q11, but it’s up in the air whether that bonus actually works. Can’t hurt to try!
British Airways has the On Business program. Earning is complicated, but you get 4,320 points for a first class roundtrip to Australia and it only costs 3,120 for an intra-European roundtrip (see redemption chart here).
Delta has the SkyBonus program. It’s free to sign-up (they don’t actually require any proof of your business) and you earn up to 30 SkyBonus points per dollar spent. You can then redeem earned points on things as small as 10 drinks coupons (10,000 points) or a free coach roundtrip in the US (85,000). I used bonus code SB2011NEW earlier this year for a 25,000 point sign-up bonus, but I’m not sure if it’s still active. Can’t hurt to try!
United has the PerksPlus program, which requires a minimum of $20,000 annual spend on United and Lufthansa.
For planned meetings, there is a huge opportunity. Almost all hotel chains offer Meeting Planner programs if you plan a meeting and pay it all through a centralized bill:
Hilton has the Event Planner. In typical Hilton style, they give a double dip earning option of 1 HHonors bonus point and 1 airline mile per US$ spent.
Qualification: Your event must be contracted with the hotel in advance for a minimum of US$1,000. Eligible charges include those for guest rooms, meeting rooms and catering (excluding taxes and service charges).
Hyatt has the Gold Passport Meeting program.
- Earn 1 bonus point for every eligible U.S. dollar spent on your event up to 50,000 bonus points*
- Receive bonus points for eligible dollars spent on guestrooms, meeting rooms, banquets and in-house catering
- Split your earned bonus points up to three ways to reward co-workers and colleagues who helped you plan your qualifying event
- Or, earn bonus points for your company**
They also offer an elite status component: Platinum status after 3 meetings and Diamond after 10.
Qualification: 10 or more actualized guestrooms, or for each catering/banqueting event
Marriott has the Rewarding Events program that offers either For every $1 US in total charges, you can
choose to earn either: 3 points per $1 US – Maximum 50,000 or 1 airline mile per $1 US – Maximum 15,000.
Marriott also offers elite status: “As a member, you also earn 10 Elite nights along with your points for each qualifying group, meeting, or event.” Silver Elite is 10 Elite night, Gold Elite is 50 Elite nights and Platinum Elite after 75 Elite nights.
Qualifying meeting is: a room block must actualize with at least 10 rooms on one night to earn points or miles
Marriott is also running a triple points promotion for meetings:
- Register by March 31, 2012.
- Book your event at any participating Marriott brand between September 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012.
- Hold your event between September 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012.
- Earn triple points (up to 150,000) for every event, starting with your 2nd event.
Priority Club has Meeting Rewards. You earn 3 Priority Club points for every US$1 you spend on qualified meetings* at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts — as well as all Priority Club Rewards Family of Brands hotels — in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Latin America.
Qualified meeting: Consists of 10 or more guest rooms within your group block occupied for at least one night of the meeting with associated meeting-related food and beverage charges applied to your master bill. The maximum benefit per qualified meeting is 60,000 points
Starwood has the Preferred Planner program: One point for every three U.S. dollars of eligible group revenue (to a maximum of 20,000 Starpoints per event). Free Starwood Platinum status with $100,000 in yearly spend.
Opentable offers a program for Administrative Assistants that allows them to earn the points (usually 100-1,000) per reservation.
I’m sure there are other ways to maximize miles and points from corporate travel, so feel free to share your tips and tricks of the trade!