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You’ve avoided the line at check-in, traveled across country in comfort, and been the first one to get off the plane and collect your luggage. You congratulate yourself on avoiding the typical airport delays as you walk over to the rental car desk, and find that there’s a line of people waiting to rent a car. How do you avoid this? Join the rental car company’s preferred customer program.
Just as the airlines have frequent flyer programs, the rental car companies have preferred customer programs. Some are free, and some have a charge associated with them, but all offer much the same benefits as the airline frequent flyer programs. For example, as a Hertz #1 Gold, or AVIS Preferred member, the company already has your car preference, drivers license number and credit card on record. When you get off the plane, take the shuttle bus to the rental car lot. You’ll get dropped off at your car – which will be waiting for you with the motor running and the paperwork filled out. Put your luggage in the trunk, show the attendant at the gate your drivers license, and you’re out in a flash.
A quick tip: Make sure that the rental car company has your airline frequent flyer number on file. Most rental car companies have agreements with the major airlines that allow you to garner mileage for your frequent flyer account. Also, most airlines give out coupons good for rental car upgrades with their partner companies. Use them. It’s a good way to pay get a mid-size car for the price of a compact. And, sometimes, you can even get a free rental.
Many business travelers overlook this perk. Every hotel chain has a frequent guest program, and like the rental car and airline programs, they’re free. There are several reasons to join. Like the airlines, you can use the points you accumulate to upgrade your room or pay for free lodging. (Also, like the airlines, free lodging should be booked well in advance. Don’t expect it to be available for short notice business travel.)
Major hotel chains (Marriott, Westin, Sheraton, Hilton, Hyatt, etc.) in larger cities often have special perks available to their frequent guest program members. Many provide “executive” floors for their frequent guests. These floors often have their own concierge to handle your check-in, check-out, and dinner reservations. They may also have a private area with complimentary breakfast and/or drinks at cocktail time.
Most rooms on these executive floors are designed for business travelers. Generally, they have a desk and a speakerphone with two phone lines. One of the more recent trends is to offer Internet access right in the room. Some hotels offer either access through the TV or a computer terminal in the room at a fixed hourly rate. Some provide a direct network connection for your laptop. If you will need computer access, make sure you inquire about the hotel’s capabilities when making your reservation