It's a Small-Business World After All

It's a Small-Business World After All

Frequent flyer programs have set their sights on the small- to medium-sized business, offering exclusive perks and benefits to this deep market. Find out how your account can benefit from this trend.

Small-business owners and people that work for a small companies have a chip on their shoulder when it comes to the travel industry – and for good reason. For years they’ve had to listen to their corporate counterparts drone on and on about the travel perks that come with working for a large company. Bonus miles, upgrades, lounge access, complimentary status … the airlines seemed to offer anything and everything to earn the business of those companies that employed thousands of potential travelers.

But the times, they are a changing. Over the past few years, airlines have spent considerable time and money on programs designed specifically for owners and employees of small- to medium-sized businesses. This trend has resulted in greater opportunities for millions of small-business travelers.

British Airways introduced the concept a few years back with its innovative Venture Club program. At a time when an economic slowdown was forcing many of the major corporations to cut back on travel budgets, British Airways searched for a way to offset this diminishing revenue stream. The spotlight quickly focused on the vast, yet under-realized, small- to medium-sized business market. Just a few months after launching the program, British Airways boasted over 400 Venture Club partnerships and the program rapidly spawned a generation of similarly targeted programs.

The economy improved (and slumped again), and the corporate flyers returned to the skies – and still these targeted programs continued. But their survival was tied to a new goal – the defeat of the travel agency. For years, the small- to medium-sized business had been the cornerstone of many a travel agencies’ business. And for years, the airlines had been looking for a way to bypass the travel agents, going so far as to cut travel agent commissions entirely in some cases. The newest weapon in this ongoing battle became these programs targeted to the small business.

So, the pressing question is, how can you as a frequent traveler benefit from these programs (which appear to be here to stay)? Most of these programs allow both the company and the employee to earn miles and points. Points earned by the business can be redeemed for special awards, such as upgrades and status, which can then be used by the business owner and the employees. And the traveling employees of businesses that participate are often provided opportunities to earn bonus miles in addition to the standard miles they earn as part of their frequent flyer program. Basically, it’s a win-win situation.

For instance, a business owner who enrolls in the Northwest Airlines E-Biz Perks program is eligible to receive several complimentary Silver Elite membership passes and each employee can earn 5,000 WorldPerks bonus miles after booking their first flight through E-Biz Perks – that’s 5,000 miles on top of what would normally be earned for the flight as a member of the WorldPerks program. Or, you as a business owner could join the America West Corporate AWArds program and get a five-percent discount on all airfare. You’ll also receive a 10-percent discount from Thrifty and Dollar Rent A Car through the program. And membership in any one of these programs just may prove to be a perfect way to shortcut the elite requirements. For instance, the America West program is running a promotion in which Corporate AWArd members automatically achieve FlightFund Elite status if they are elite members of another airline’s frequent flyer program (this promotion runs through March 31).

Finally, the small-business traveler may have a reason to celebrate – and to discard that unsightly chip. Whether you own your own business, or work for a small company, these programs can enhance your travel experience as well as your account balance. Following is information about a few of these programs. Read on to gather the research that you’ll need to enroll your business, or to convince your boss to sign up.

Air France Voyageur Rewards
Businesses based in the United States with under 500 employees are eligible for Air France Voyageur Rewards. Travel agencies, consolidators, ticket brokers and companies that are currently under incentive agreements with Air France are ineligible.

Points are earned for all business travel on Air France when the tickets are purchased in the United States. Point accrual rates vary based on the class of fare paid. Your business will need to designate an authorized officer and a travel planner. Traveling employees who are enrolled in Air France’s Frequence Plus will earn frequent flyer miles and the business earns points. Businesses may earn a maximum of 100,000 points per year.

Awards in the Voyageur Rewards program include roundtrip tickets from the United States to any eligible Air France destination (including codeshare flights), upgrades and discount certificates of $50 to $500 off the ticket price (when you purchase a published full-fare, roundtrip ticket originating in the United States.) Awards must be claimed before Dec. 31 and are valid for one year from the date of issue. Currently, Air France is running a promotion: join Voyageur Rewards today and earn 500 bonus points.

To enroll in Air France Voyageur Rewards, visit http://www.airfrance.com/us or call (877) 700-6100.

American Business ExtrAA
Eligibility for American’s Business ExtrAA program is ultimately determined by American Airlines, but it’s categorized as program for small- to mid-size businesses. Companies that currently have a contract, discount, AAirpass or other agreement with American are ineligible. Travel agencies, wholesalers, consolidators and other sellers of travel are also ineligible.

Business ExtrAA points are earned based on the amount of dollars your business spends on air travel with American Airlines, American Eagle, Trans World Airlines LLC, or Trans World Express. Businesses earn 1,000 points for every $10,000 spent during a calendar quarter. Points expire after two calendar years. Once again, your company’s traveling employees must first be enrolled in American’s frequent flyer program, AAdvantage, before your business can begin earning points.

American’s Business ExtrAA program offers the following awards: roundtrip tickets within and between the United States (including Alaska) and Canada or Mexico; between Hawaii or the Caribbean and North America; within the Caribbean; between North America and Central America, South America, Europe, Japan or Taiwan; upgrades; AAdvantage miles; AAdvantage Gold Status; in-flight drink coupons; passes to American’s clubrooms; and a one-year membership in American’s private club.

To enroll in Business ExtrAA, visit http://www.businessextraa.com or call (800) 457-7072.

America West Corporate AWArds
To be eligible for America West’s Corporate AWArds program, your business must spend less than 1 million dollars per year on travel. Corporate AWArds is designed for small- to mid-size companies. Individuals, travel agencies and other sellers of travel are ineligible.

Corporate AWArds offers businesses a five-percent discount on all airfare. Upon joining Corporate AWArds, your company must designate a travel planner who becomes responsible for registering traveling employees.

Traveling employees must be enrolled in America West’s frequent flyer program, FlightFund, in order to earn miles. Businesses also receive a 10-percent discount from Thrifty and Dollar Rent A Car through the Corporate AWArds program.

To enroll in Corporate Awards, visit http://www.americawest.com or call (800) 601-6002.

British Airways Venture Club
Eligibility for British Airways Venture Club includes businesses and non-profit organizations that are registered in the United States and Canada. Businesses under incentive agreements with British Airways; British Airways’ affiliates, marketing, promotion, advertising and consulting agencies; travel agencies and ticket brokerage firms are ineligible.

The amount of points earned in British Airways Venture Club varies based on each business flight. For example, flying from the United States to the United Kingdom in coach class earns 300 points or from the United Kingdom to Africa in first class earns 1,500 points. Upon joining Venture Club, you must designate a travel planner who becomes responsible for awards earned by your business. Traveling employees who are members of the British Airways Executive Club earn frequent flyer miles for themselves while the business earns points. Businesses may earn up to 100,000 points per year. Points expire at the end of the second calendar year from which they are earned.

British Airways Venture Club offers the following awards: roundtrip tickets from North America to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, the Far East, Australia or New Zealand; upgrades; merchandise; BostonCoach car service; stays at the Marriott; Heathrow Express vouchers; and discounts for Avis car rentals.

To enroll in Venture Club, visit http:// www.britishairways.com/ventureclub or call (800) 206-7000.

Continental RewardOne
To be eligible for the Continental RewardOne program, a business must have five to 1,000 employees and must spend $100,000 or less on travel with Continental Airlines annually or have a total annual revenue that does not exceed $500,000. Travel agencies, wholesalers, consolidators and other sellers of travel are not eligible.

When employees travel for business on Continental, the company earns points in the RewardOne program and the employees earn miles. Again, employees must be enrolled in Continental Airlines’ frequent flyer program, OnePass. Also, the business must provide all of its employees’ OnePass frequent flyer numbers to Continental before any points can be earned. On travel to and from Houston, Cleveland and Newark, businesses will earn one point for every $1,000 spent. For all other travel, businesses earn two points for every $1,000 spent, excluding fares booked in Q and T class.

Continental RewardOne offers the following awards: roundtrip tickets from the United States to Europe, Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, South America, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean or within the United States; OnePass Silver Elite status; one-year membership in Continental’s private club; upgrades; passes to Continental’s clubrooms; and Continental currency coupons. The RewardOne program also includes special offers from Continental and discounts from its partners, including Avis, Alamo, Hertz, Radisson, Airborne Express, and the American Management Association.

To enroll in RewardOne visit http:// www.continentalairlines.com and search for RewardOne, call (800) 395-4922, or email Continental at rewardone@coair.com. Before enrolling, you will need the OnePass frequent flyer numbers of all of your traveling employees.

Delta MYOB Travel
To be eligible for Delta’s MYOB (Mind Your Own Business) Travel program, a business must have between five and 50 employees and spend less than $500,000/year on airfare.

Traveling employees earn 1,000 miles and your company’s travel planner earns 500 miles for every Delta ticket flown. In addition, the traveling employee and travel planner earn 5,000 bonus miles on your company’s first ticket purchase. Travel planners earn 2,000 bonus miles when they register and employees earn 2,000 bonus miles when they register. Each time a new employee registers, your business earns 1,000 miles. Up to three travel planners can be designated. Traveling employees can also plan and book their own travel. Before the business can begin earning miles, traveling employees must be enrolled in Delta SkyMiles.

MYOB Travel offers special deals from Hertz and Starwood Preferred Guest. Employees can create a traveler profile with a list of their personal travel preferences. MYOB Travel can also generate a variety of travel reports for your business, including air, hotel and car rental transactions.

To enroll in MYOB Travel, visit http:// www.myobtravel.com or call (877) 892-3232.

Northwest E-Biz Perks
Eligibility for Northwest E-Biz Perks is determined solely by Northwest Airlines. The program, however, is designed for small- to mid-size businesses in the United States that do not currently have an incentive program with Northwest.

Businesses earn one E-Biz Perks point for every dollar spent on travel to/from Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul or Memphis, and two points per dollar spent on travel to/from all other destinations. Points do not expire. Your business will first need to designate a company travel contact for the E-Biz Perks program. The travel contact will then need to ensure that each traveling employee creates a “company profile” for the E-Biz Perks program and that employees use E-Biz Perks when making reservations. Traveling employees must be enrolled in Northwest WorldPerks before the business can begin earning points. Employees simultaneously earn frequent flyer miles for themselves.

Northwest’s E-Biz Perks program offers the following awards: domestic coach-and first-class tickets; coach-and World Business-class tickets to Europe/ Asia; upgrades; passes to Northwest’s clubrooms; one-year membership in Northwest’s private club; in-flight drink coupons and Silver Elite WorldPerks memberships. Additionally, traveling employees will receive 5,000 WorldPerks bonus miles after booking their first flight through E-Biz Perks. Businesses may also apply for the WorldPerks Visa Business Card. Northwest is currently running a promotion that will earn you 5,000 miles when you apply for the card. Call (800) 796-4650, ext. 5137, to apply. All awards earned by the business are issued to the company’s travel contact.

To enroll in E-Biz Perks, visit http://www.nwa.com/travel/ebiz or call (800) 225-2525.

United Perks Plus
To be eligible for United Airline’s Perks Plus program, your business must spend a minimum of $40,000 annually on travel.

Upon enrolling in United Perks Plus, your business will receive an ID code. This ID code must be entered every time you book business travel. Based on quarterly travel spending, your business earns awards. Travel spending is defined as the amount of actual net flown revenue, excluding all taxes, fees, surcharges, and commissions, wholly on United-operated services (excluding codeshare partners). Your company’s flight expenses are automatically tracked and reports are prepared on a quarterly basis. Traveling employees who are enrolled in United Mileage Plus earn frequent flyer miles simultaneously.

Perks Plus awards include travel certificates that can be redeemed for free United Airline’s flights and one-class upgrades for United States domestic travel. Awards are distributed directly to the business.

To enroll in Perks Plus, visit http://www.ual.com or call (877) 228-1327.

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