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The best loyalty programs for business travelers

23 May 2016

Brought to you by TravelPerk, the #1 business travel platform.

The best loyalty programs for business travelers

Whether you’re a small, medium-sized, or multi-national corporation with business travel needs, finding value in your corporate travel process is the name of the game. Knowing exactly where to cut costs and stretch others is key to not only keeping an eye on the bottom line but also to prevent employee turnover as well.

To do this well, both your company and its employees must be on the same page in developing and maintaining a cost-conscious company culture. Knowing that employees will usually seek to benefit from the loyalty programs they’re enrolled in – sometimes to the detriment of your company’s travel policy — is powerful information. Why not use it to your advantage?

Despite the benefit, corporate loyalty programs for airlines, hotels, and car rental companies are not very well known. Instead, most loyalty programs reward individual travelers for using their services to foster brand loyalty. For savvy travel managers, these programs can help promote compliance with travel policies, improve traveler satisfaction, and extract more overall value.

When creating your corporate travel strategy, consider using the best loyalty programs available for maximum value.

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The Best Individual Frequent Flyer Programmes

According to the results of the 2016 FlyerTalk Awards, the British Airways Executive Club (Oneworld Alliance) loyalty program took top honors for the Best Rewards Programme in Europe. Why? An employee who is a member of the Executive Club enjoys more value on short-haul economy intra-Europe flights on Oneworld Alliance partners, the lowest change/cancellation fee, no close-in ticketing fees when booking an award, and the opportunity to earn one-way awards — not to mention the program’s luxurious lounge access. All this reassures travel managers employee comfort while employees themselves can feel recharged for a more productive trip.

On the other side of the coin, Lufthansa’s Miles & More frequent flyer program is the largest on the continent with 25 million members. While it started as a Lufthansa-specific program, 13 airlines now participate, including SWISS, Brussels Airlines, and Luxembourg’s Lexair. Miles & More employs a standard point system for a wide variety of perks your employees can earn. In addition, small pluses include no fee for booking by phone, no fee for cancellations, one-way bookings through Lufthansa, and the opportunity to book Fly Smart fares (which require 50% fewer miles).

Businesses Can Earn Lots of Perks, Too

PartnerPlusBenefit is Lufthansa’s free corporate rewards program. Small and medium-sized businesses can accrue points that can be applied to lower overall travel costs and benefit from award flights, upgrades, vouchers, cashback, and retail awards. Traveling employees who happen to be Miles & More members will be happy to know that they’ll still be able to earn their own points, as well. This combination ultimately helps steer travel policy in a more cost-effective direction.

With BlueBiz, companies that often fly with Delta, Alitalia, KLM, or AirFrance can become even more cost-effective by benefitting from the extra services the program offers. As a member, your company can earn Blue Credits and redeem them for free tickets and access to KLM Crown Lounges at Amsterdam Schipol Airport, delivering instant savings on your company’s travel budget. Traveling employees of BlueBiz companies enjoy one extra bag for free (a savings of €15 to €30 per flight), guaranteed seats even on fully booked flights, and enjoy priority status. If they happen to be Flying Blue members, they’ll also earn miles for their trip too!

Completing the trifecta is the SAS Credits program by Scandinavian Airlines. It’s a completely free corporate loyalty program your company can enroll in, rewarding travel with SAS and Widerøe to Scandinavia and locations abroad in all booking and service classes. The opportunity to earn 2-4% on all air travel cuts costs for flights and hotel stays across the board, especially when you consider that individual employees can still earn EuroBonus points themselves while doing so. Talk about a profitable agreement.

Kick Your Feet Up with Hotel Reward Programs

In our opinion, the Hilton HHonors program is the best pick when trying to steer your traveling employees in a more value-added direction. It isn’t the largest hotel chain in the world, but the Hilton offers the largest selection of business properties, making it easier to accrue and redeem points earned over time. In addition, the HHonors program allows your business travelers to accumulate both HHonors points and miles with their favorite airline. This gives them more incentive for them to stay at Hiltons — and for you to make their favorite airline your company’s favorite, too…

If Hilton isn’t your cup of tea, try the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) programme instead. It caters primarily to business travelers who often travel to major cities in the United States, Asia, and Europe, and its members can earn and redeem points in 1,200 hotels in close to 100 countries. Since the Starwood Group has such a wide variety of properties, members can rack up points at less pricey locations and redeem them at other, more lavish ones. Starpoints can be earned by dining and shopping with Starwood partners, or by making purchases with the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express. Points can be spent on tickets to concerts and sporting events, and merchandise from a large number of retailers as well as on flights through the SPG Flights program.

Get Where You’re Going With Points For Rides

With its Gold Plus Rewards Programme, Hertz is the gold standard for car rental services. Through a combination of worldwide coverage and seamless global integration, Hertz does an excellent job in providing travel departments the kind of value they’re looking for.

With points that don’t expire, a lack of blackout dates, and the ability to exchange points for miles or points with other travel partners, traveling employees will be hard pressed to find a better alternative. Other rental car companies rely on local affiliates and regional booking websites, all of which can add to the complexity of managing business travel. Hertz Gold Plus Rewards is a truly global rewards program.

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