Monthly Archives: December 2016

Some Ways to Save on Small Business Travel

As the weather heats up so does the travel season. With the peak tourism period fast-approaching, travelers are exposed to increasing costs, with airlines, accommodation and other travel services putting up their prices during the premium travel months. If you’re a small business traveler, who does not have the luxury of an endless budget to spend on travel, making savings is essential.

Here are 10 big money saving tips for the discerning small business traveler.

How to Save on Small Business Travel

Track Unused Tickets When They Expire

Craig Fichtelberg, president and co-founder of Chicago-based travel management company AmTrav Corporate Travel, provided us with some insider tips for small business travelers, and how planning smart can save them money on business travel.

One tip Fichtelberg shared is to track unused tickets when they expire.

“This is the most missed opportunity by small businesses that allow their travelers to book on multiple websites. Cancellations of travel plans in business is common and unused tickets that are not tracked will never get used,” Fichtelberg warns.

Book in Advance

Research shows that travel services booked further in advance generally cost less that those made at the last minute. Fichtelberg advises businesses should require approval on last-minute travel purchases, enabling companies to ensure travelers are not waiting until the last minute to book a trip they knew about in advance.

Think Twice About Upgrades

Do you really require that legroom upgrade on a short-haul flight? Many airlines and other travel services offer upgrades to try and entice travelers into paying for more expensive tickets. Prices for upgrades vary significantly, so it is important small business travelers determine how much they can realistically afford to pay for upgrades and make it part of their travel budget.

Switch Business Class or First Class?

The differences between business and first class travel are not as dramatic as you may think. In terms of boarding, as Investopedia notes, many airlines board business-class and first-class passengers together, providing no real benefit to first class travelers.

Consequently, businesses should determine whether and when first class and business travel is allowed, which could be tied into the length of the trip or the mileage.

Use Virtual Credit Cards to Reduce the Risk of Fraud

Another top travel tip for small business travelers from Craig Fichtelberg, is that, in order to reduce the risk of a business falling victim to fraud, employees should travel on a virtual card which is created per trip, so they don’t need to carry a physical card and run the risk of being frauded.

Avoid Booking Airfares that Don’t Allow You to Make Alterations

As Fichtelberg highlights, changes are common in business travel. Consequently, money-conscious business travelers should:

“Avoid booking the new airline basic fares that do not allow changes, seat selection and boarding preferences.”

If changes to the travel arrangements need to be made, business travelers will lose the full price of the ticket

Sign Up for Company Loyalty Programs

Company loyalty points and programs are there to be benefited from. Fichtelberg advises companies to sign up for company-loyalty programs where the business earns benefits from air, hotel and car suppliers.

Take Advantage of Cash Back and Other Perks on Business Credit Card Deals

Credit cards for business use can come with a whole host of benefits, including cash back and travel insurance. Small businesses would be wise to take advantage of such deals, which could help them make significant savings on the likes of travel insurance and earn valuable cash back when they book flights and other travel services with the business credit card.

Use Hotel Comparison Websites

Business travelers can save money on accommodation expenses by taking advantage of hotel comparison websites. The likes of Trivago and Travel Supermarket compare the prices of thousands of websites around the world, helping travelers find the best deals. For cash-strapped small business travelers, paying less for hotels has to be a priority.

Get Uber Savvy

Uber has taken the world of taxi travel by storm, offering significantly cheaper rates for taxi services compared to traditional taxi companies. Small businesses that are traveling on a budget would be wise to take advantage of Uber and enjoy getting from A to B in an unfamiliar town or city for less.

Build the Perfect Business Machine

Want to take your business to the next level? There are tons of different ways you can give your business a boost through unique strategies like gamification and using various online platforms to boost brand loyalty. From pitching your idea to growing that idea to unparalleled success, here are 10 tips to build the perfect business machine.

Build Brand Loyalty Through Amazon

Amazon is a popular platform for eCommerce sellers. And it can also be a powerful way to create some brand loyalty among your customers, if you use it correctly. In this post on the Social Annex blog, Prasad Dhamdhere shares some ways you can use Amazon to build brand loyalty.

Consider Gamification for Your Next Event

For businesses that hold events, adding some interest or unique activities can be essential to getting the most out of them. And that’s where gamification comes in. This Pathable post by Lindsay Martin-Bilbrey includes more information about adding gamification features to your next event.

Use These Social Media Advertising Tips and Tricks

Chances are, you already use some type of social media to market your business. But you can also use ads on those platforms to make an even bigger impact, especially with the tips and tricks featured in this MyBlogU post by Ann Smarty.

Improve Customer Retention With Social Media

Social media can also be a great way for you to boost your customer retention. This Social Media Examiner post by Small Business Trends chief strategy officer Tamar Weinberg explains how you can use social media for this purpose. And BizSugar members discuss the concept further here.

Learn How to Pitch a Complex Business

If the concept behind your business isn’t one that people are already familiar with, then it might seem like a challenge to explain your business to potential partners or investors. That’s why you need to learn how to pitch a complex business. Check out this Smallbiztechnology.com post by Ramon Ray for more.

Use These Tips to Handle Adversity in the Office

No matter how hard you work to avoid it, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience some adversity in your small business office at some point. So you need to learn how to deal with that adversity. The tips in this CorpNet post by Nellie Akalp can help.

Reach More Mobile Customers

Reaching mobile customers isn’t just about ensuring that your website and marketing materials are viewable on mobile devices. You also need to create messaging that’s relevant to those customers. This RightMix Marketing post by Andrew Gazdecki details how you can do just that.

Consider These Key Issues Before Incorporating Chat Bots

Chat bots offer a unique opportunity for small businesses to provide customer service and other personalized communications without expending tons of extra resources. But there are some key things to consider before integrating them. Ivan Widjaya of SMB CEO discusses more in this post.

Know the Four Levels of Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are different levels of brand loyalty, which Dave Taylor details in this Taylor Brand Group post. You can also see commentary on the post over on BizSugar.

Don’t Ignore Baby Boomers in Your Marketing

Millennials are all the rage when it comes to targeting marketing campaigns. But baby boomers can still be an attractive target to a lot of businesses. This Target Marketing post by Sue Yasav goes into more detail.

Small Business Owners Need to Know About the Internet Privacy Repeal

The House has voted to block Obama Era online privacy regulations for Internet use. The legislation has been sent to President Donald Trump for his signature. That leaves the security of small businesses’ online data in a state of limbo where sharing information and client privacy is concerned.

Trump is expected to sign the bill into law. It invokes the Congressional Review Act (CRA) law which allows Congress to undo regulations already passed. Here are the issues for small business owners who use the web to do business and interact with clients there.

The Internet Privacy Repeal: What You Need to Know

ISPs Needed Permission

The rules passed last year by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were intended to give consumers, and by proxy small businesses interacting with those consumers on the web, control over how their online information was being used. The new regulations would have made customer information private requiring ISPs to seek permission to collect, sell or use data. This would have included browser history, app usage, location data and other revealing statistics.

The FCC rule would have required clients be informed when they had been hacked or their data had been breached. It also would have required ISPs to take actions to prevent criminal activity.

Restricting the FCC

However, the current administration wants to undue these regulations before they can go into effect. What’s more, they want to restrict the FCC from being able to write rules like these in the future.

Critics have said the FCC rule would have unfairly impacted ISPs and stifled innovation while adding to the costs of doing business. The administration also wants the Federal Trade Commission rather than the FCC to police privacy issues connected to broadband companies and bigger internet companies like Google. But for small businesses, reversal of the regulations will likely shift the burden of protecting customer privacy back to them.

ISPs Will be Collecting Data

Regardless of the potential implications for small businesses, it’s expected that Trump will sign the bill. That means internet service providers will be able to continue to monitor small business and consumer behavior online and use personal and financial information to sell targeted ads. That will make them more like Facebook and Google, two companies currently unregulated when it comes to the kinds f customer data they can collect.

Translation for Small Business

Again, all of this means small businesses need to be able to safeguard consumer data privacy themselves. If you’re selling any goods or services online, you’ll need to take steps to make sure your customers feel safe.

Here’s a couple of things you can do.

The Virtual Private Network End Game

“Small business owners concerned about their own privacy and the privacy of their business should consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for company business as well as ensuring that websites used are encrypted,” says Jocelyn Baird at NextAdvisor.com.

A VPN provides the security measures businesses need. In the same way a firewall protects the information stored in your computer, these VPN’s protect data you’re sharing through public networks. This is the end game you can use to run around the proposed security roll backs to assure clients their data is safely shared with you.

Use an Encrypted HTTPS Protocol

Sound complicated? It’s not really. The “s” at the end of the older “http” means that all the information passed between your browser and the website you’re connected to is encrypted. That “s” means all the data you share between you and your client is safe, regardless of any changes to privacy laws.

Final Word

Baird has the final word for small business here, cautioning against panic but suggesting diligence.

“It’s important to understand that Congress did not create new laws, and instead created legislation designed to overturn existing regulations that had been passed — but not yet gone into effect — by the FCC,” she says.  “Essentially, not much has changed since the FCC’s rules hadn’t even had a chance to go into effect. What this brings to the forefront is an ever-present need for individuals as well as businesses, large and small, to pay attention to their privacy and the privacy of their customers.”