The requirement to travel for consultants can be both a gift and a curse and the jury is still out on whether to consider the days on the road as a perk or not. Given how much time is spent traveling as a consultant though it definitely pays to learn the ropes from a pro. We have interviewed some consultants from top firms to learn about their travel hacks. We have asked them to give us some tips on the 4 most common areas of travel they deal with.
Frequent flyer hacks
Hotel upgrade hacks
Car rental hacks
Apps for consultants & business travelers
Frequent Flyer Hacks:
You’ve heard this before, but make sure that you are keeping track of all your miles and focusing on the best available frequent flyer programs. One of the best perks of being a frequent flyer is gaining status on an airline. This can depend on mileage or legs flown (number of plane rides you take) per year. Gaining status on an airline means upgrades! Upgrades give you free access to business or first class more often as well as to airport lounges and pre-boarding. A big leather chair and a complimentary glass of wine can really take the edge off of travel.
Pick an airline that is headquartered from your local airport and try and book all travel there. Then sign-up for the airlines credit card for personal use and watch the miles and perks rack up. Make sure to download the app for the airline that you are a frequent flyer for. Many airlines have created well designed apps that make flight booking, check in and tracking a breeze. Since, you will not be able to only travel with one airline you will need to keep track of all those other frequent flyer miles. A google sheets or excel spreadsheet can be a lifesaver for this because you will be surprised as how much those random airline miles add up at the end of the year.
Another pain point of travel is going through TSA, which we all know can be a major frustration. Do yourself a favor and sign up for a Known traveler ID. This is a Federal Program and will give you access to the TSA pre-check which is about 3X faster than going through the normal security check. We’ve personally tested this and agree :)
Hotel bookings can be tricky. Consultants stay in hotels much more often than they would like to admit per year and getting the upgrade to the suite or the free wifi can be a great perk to take the edge off of the day or the long plane ride. Prices will vary from week to week and many of the big firms will pre-book hotels for the majority of the year and then cancel last minute if they end up not using the room. This can mean huge price fluctuations for a room and availability. This is where the hotel points system can help. The points system works in 2 ways, kind of similar to airline miles. To gain status for a hotel, in this case Marriott Hotels you either have to stay in the hotel for 25 nights or 15 separate stays (this distinction turns out to be pretty important as you’ll see soon). The goal is to gain status as fast as you can in order to gain access to all the perks and start having free night stays for personal use. Kevin’s hack is to do the research of the hotel chain before he gets to the city, especially if he knows that he will be there for an extended period of time. Then the trick is to move from one hotel in the chain to another in the city every other night if they are close enough and this enables him to gain ‘stays’ as opposed ‘nights’ which he can accrue a lot faster. The status that he gains that month or within a few weeks carries for the entire year, so a little bit of hustle can go a long way!
Car Rental Hacks:
It’s time to ride in style! Do you want the 2 door mustang convertible or the small economy hatchback. Having status at the car rental company is the difference. Companies like Enterprise, Budget and Avis have made car rentals very simple for preferred members, book through their and app and just show up and pick the car off the lot.
It’s very important to know how the car tiers work. Let’s take Enterprise for example: the perks don't really amount to much until you have reached gold status. This means either 12 separate rentals or 40 days of renting. As traveling consultant this status can be reached relatively quickly. Then when you have gained gold status or above a tip is to always book the highest tiered car in the lowest bracket. So, book the best car in the ‘full” bracket which is one under the ‘premium’ bracket. Usually what car rental companies will do is upgrade you to one above the car that you have selected. So, if you have selected the top of ‘full’ status then the one higher upgrade means that you move in the ‘premium’ category and this can come at no extra charge to you.
Best apps for consulting and business travelers:
Here are a few apps that we think can help with day to day business needs, whether you need to keep track of your receipts or find the best prices on a flight:
Everlance can help consultants with both mileage and expense reimbursements by keeping a detailed record of all the miles driven and business related expenses. A top tip from our CTO, Gabriel Garza, a former Deloitte Senior Consultant is to “keep track of your expenses in real time. Use the picture and notes feature to record every receipt, it make life a lot easier when reimbursement time rolls around”.
One of the simpler tools we have been playing around with. If you have a week or more to plan the trip, enter in the info into Hopper and they analyze market trends to get the best price for you on the right day.
Great tool for keeping notes on clients and meetings. All your data is saved in the cloud so you can access your notes from all your devices.
The one stop shop for travel logistics. Get alerts for better available trips and send flight info to your colleagues or clients with a simple mail forwarding tool. This app comes free with many great features and upgrade to become a power user for $5.
A great alternative to excel, this free tool from Google has some easy to use functionalities and saves all your files in Google Drive (recommended in a past post). Keep track of your frequent flyer miles and build some tables for clients, then simply share with a one click link.
Do you have your own travel hacks that you want to tell your industry? Let us know and you can be an Everlance guest writer! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy consulting!
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