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Corporate Travel and Events

How to Maximize Your Business Travel Program for Points and Perks


Zach Griff

Travel Analyst, The Points Guy

What should employees ask their employers about travel points policies and how they can take advantage of the points they earn from business travel for personal travel?

There are a few questions about travel points policies that employees should be asking their employers. Traditionally, points earned directly with airlines and hotels are the property of the traveler, but employees should confirm with their employer that this is also the case for travel done on behalf of the business. They should also inquire about which credit card to use for purchasing business travel. If it’s a personal credit card, it’s likely that the employee gets to keep the points earned from purchases, but if it’s a corporate card, the employee needs to clarify who earns the points earned from that card. Once employees confirm that the points are theirs to use, they are free to use them for personal travel!

How can business leaders use corporate travel perks to incentivize and motivate employees?

Points have outsized value when they are used for aspirational travel, like globetrotting in the comfort of first class. Employees will work harder knowing that the points earned from their business travel will get them closer to that dream vacation. Therefore, business leaders should ensure that they’ve set up a corporate travel program that rewards their travelers/employees handsomely with points.

To start, they should make sure employees are eligible to earn points on all their travel (e.g., no basic economy airline tickets or pre-paid hotel bookings through online travel agencies). Furthermore, employers should allow employees to keep the points spent on a corporate credit card. Finally, many airline corporate travel rewards programs offer lounge passes, one-way upgrades, or complimentary airline status in addition to the points earned by the traveler. Business leaders can offer these perks to their travelers to further reward them for a job well done.

What are three of the top perks you look for in a business travel program?

 The best business travel programs give the traveler the option to choose their preferred airlines and hotels, streamline the end-to-end booking process, and allow the traveler to collect points for all their travel. 

What are some of the most unique business travel perks you’ve seen?

One of the most impactful perks of business travel programs that I’ve seen is some companies offering their employees gift cards in exchange for choosing flights and hotels that are cheaper than the average price around similar dates and times. Other unique corporate travel programs focus on total flexibility for the traveler, such as offering employees the choice of staying at a hotel or renting a homeshare through Airbnb or VRBO. Finally, some companies host various competitions or raffles for free upgrades and day passes to airline lounges that can make a big impact on the overall travel experience.

Any advice for someone who is new to business travel rewards programs?

If you’re a new employee getting adjusted to a corporate travel policy, make sure to stick to one airline and hotel chain for your travel. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to earning valuable elite status that can include perks like free upgrades, waived baggage fees, or late check-outs. Also, make sure to sign up for the right personal credit cards. Holding an airline or hotel credit card can also unlock further perks, while simultaneously adding to your stash of points that you’re already earning for your business travel.

For business leaders looking to create corporate travel policies, be flexible. Let your employees choose their preferred travel providers. Allow them to earn points for all their travel. Sign up for airline corporate travel bonus programs, like American Airlines’ Business Extra, to unlock further value from travel you’re already purchasing.

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