As families and corporate travelers hit the roads again, the rental car business is booming.
For business managers, neither virus restrictions nor skyrocketing gas costs can stop the essential part of sending your staff out on company time. But with those two factors, along with the normal stresses of booking a rental, it can be a complicated procedure.
The good news is that if you know the tricks behind the scenes, you can save money and reduce the hassle of renting a car. Here are some of the key tips every business traveler should know to optimize the car rental process.
1. Always Get a Discount
Does your business have a corporate discount code for specific rental companies? If not, consider registering with your preferred agencies and getting established with them. You’ll get a minimum of 10% off each rental, and those savings add up.
However, don’t stop there! There are a variety of other ways you can get discounted prices, like:
● Reserve well in advance. As with most transportation bookings, the closer you are to the date of travel, the pricier the rentals tend to be.
● Call the rental car company directly and book through them. You may get a better price, and you can avoid the hassle of going through a third party if you have to make changes.
● Shop around for better codes that give you a deeper discount. They’re out there. Ten percent is a minimally reduced rate. Capitalize on memberships that include car rental savings, such as credit cards, hotel and airline loyalty programs, and certain insurance companies. You might be defaulting to your company rate while you have a better deal sitting in a membership pile somewhere.
● Check the weekly rate. It’s often cheaper than or comparable to the daily prices.
The cost of business travel can add up. Every penny counts when you’re trying to maximize your ROI. Increase your savings with these discounts when you book your rental car.
2. Watch the Fine Print
When it comes to reserving rental cars, it’s actually more normal than not to have extra charges at the counter. Employees often have to pay out of pocket for required “incidentals,” like insurance, fuel, and mileage.
To avoid this, watch the fine print before you submit a reservation. Hidden costs may turn a reasonable rate into a pricey rental.
This is especially common when you use third-party booking sites to search for the best deals. It sounds great if you don’t have a company preference. Third-party sites aggregate the rates for multiple companies and show them to you at once. You compare them and decide which one you want to use.
The problem is that most of us only look at the daily price. So, to stay competitive, some companies use the bare-bones features in their posted amount and add the extras later.
Keep in mind that the “final cost” isn’t always the number you see. You’ll have to read the fine print to check for additional fees and taxes. When you’re comparing prices, make sure you’re looking at the same coverage across each company.
Pro-tip: Ask about penalties if your trip is canceled. Most companies let you cancel or make changes without any fees, but some will charge you. If you’ve pre-paid, getting your money back can be difficult.
3. Consider Paying for Personal Vehicle Use
Even with the discounts you could get from a rental car company, it’s often better to let willing staff drive their personal cars, especially if the destination isn’t too far.
- Your corporate travel policy should have a section on personal vehicle use for work purposes. This activity is governed by the IRS, particularly regarding mileage reimbursement, as discussed in this article by Hotel Engine.
If your staff prefers to drive, they can use their cars for work trips and get reimbursed for partial expenses. You’ll save hours of paperwork and comparison shopping, and they’ll avoid the rental car process altogether.
Companies that frequently rent cars for business travelers should have a streamlined workflow in place. It’s part of a thorough corporate travel policy.
Add these tips to the steps as you walk through the rental car process. You’ll avoid many unexpected last-minute hassles for you and your travelers and make the job easier for everyone involved.