The big travel websites are scrambling to help small companies cut costs. Travelocity, Expedia, and Orbitz have launched business travel services recently, in response to the skyrocketing prices faced by road warriors. A recent report by the National Business Travel Association found that the average business airfare will rise 7% this year, to $1,179.
Using the travel sites, companies can set fare parameters on certain airplane routes and direct employees to stay at the Ramada instead of the Ritz. The sites also generate detailed travel reports, which businesses can use to save money -- by negotiating better terms with hotel chains for repeat business or mandating that employees book flights with layovers. Expedia compiles the data in real time, while Travelocity and Orbitz offer monthly summaries.
So far, the services are inexpensive: Expedia charges $5 for every trip booked online, and $20 for those booked over the phone, in addition to an initial fee of $149. This includes features not found on its vacation portal -- one enables Delta, American, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines passengers to upgrade to empty business class seats, up until departure.