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I’d like to share seven of my simple business travel and expense tips for startups that I’ve picked up over the years. The title of this post shows 200 tips — I have provided 7 to get started and I’d love CN readers to add 193 more! It’s critical in the current economic times that we maximize every dollar/euro/yen/etc that we spend on goods and services.
Tip #1 – Use business credit cards
This is probably the most overlooked business item I’ve seen with startups. Even if you are one person in a basement, you can get a business credit card using your own personal name. Each card provides a different set of benefits but here are some ideas to consider:
- JetBlue – gives a direct 5% discount
- PriorityClub – provides additional points per stay over the personal card
- Delta – 5% off on all flights, plus miles for usage
You need to find the card that works best for you as x airline might not fly from your homebase. But you need a business credit card. Another side benefit, business cards don’t show up on your personal credit report so it can help you "hide" any company debt.
Tip #2 – Get a business AMEX card
American Express has a program called Open which offers a variety of discounts at many national chains for car rentals, Kinkos, FedEx, etc. There is even a 5% discount now for Yahoo Search Marketing. Again, if you purchase anything at any of these chains, you need an Open card.
Tip #3 – Use the same hotel chain or airline where possible
Being able to maximize a hotel or airline program means staying within the same chain whenever possible. I like Priority Club and Starwood the best but almost every chain has a program. It’s not just enough to use the card when you check-in, you need to maximize the bonuses to hit the big freebies and top program levels. The more loyal you are to a chain, the more offers they will send you. Make sure you check FlyerTalk for your hotel and flight programs to check bonuses. Many bonuses aren’t sent to everyone but most times you can still grab them.
Tip #4 - Mobile Plan Discounts
Talk to your mobile provider – many times if you can link up multiple numbers from your staff, you will be eligible for good company discounts. I’ve seen discounts as high as 15% on AT&T and T-Mobile.
Tip #5 – Shopping with Fatwallet rewards
If you shop online, check out Fatwallet rewards. They offer cash back when you shop through their merchant gallery. It’s easy and you shop through the normal merchant’s site but you just click from Fatwallet. For example, NewEgg pays 1% back, CircuitCity 2%, Staples, Office Depot, etc. About 200 stores are listed.
Tip #6 – Put your butt in a better seat
SeatGuru should be your first stop once you have picked a flight. The site displays every seat on almost every plane and which seats are best. Sure this won’t save you any money, but it will save your ass some pain when you are flying cross-country or international. If you fly a lot, ExperFlyer can help you find the best fares by showing you fare buckets versus the traditional pricing on airline Web sites. And FlightStats tells you a lot about the flights you are considered — on-time is a good thing.
Tip #7 – Using Priceline or Hotwire
While I don’t use these services too often as they conflict with the usage of rewards cards, if you do use either, BetterBidding should be your first stop. They will tell you what others have bid and won so you know what to bid. Never bid before doing your research!
Yesterday we looked at job aggregator traffic. Today we take a look at two sites that are major players in the travel planning and booking space. I took a lot at a variety of travel sites and two stood out: Expedia and TripAdvisor. I use both sites but for different purposes. I am part of the TripAdvisor community and also use the service for hotel reviews. I use Expedia for price information across hotel chains.
The chart below is very interesting – the traffic to both sites nearly is identical. Both sites appear to be running 600,000 daily unique visitors and that amounts to 18,000,000 monthly uniques. The charts get even closer in May and June.
The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. has compiled their list of the 101 most useful sites online today. There is a variety of worldwide sites plus some local favorites. Check out the entire list and below are a few of my notes. They smartly stuck Digg in at 40 so as to maximize the chance of getting on the frontpage.
The top 10 are: Google, Anonymouse, iLounge, Only2Clicks, Zoho, Backpack, GetNetWise, DaFont, Pando, and FlipClips. In the social category, Facebook, Flickr, Technorati, and WordPress are the big names. Engadget looks like the only blog on the list.
The Beijing Olympics site comes in at 22, Radio Locator at 23. The Eggcorn Database, Wiktionary, About.com (why?), UK Legal advice from Legal Services Shop, Babelfish (love the fish), Noise Mapping England (we could use this for NYC!). Nice to see The Man in Seat 61 getting some love along with one of my top 10, SeatGuru. The first one that crosses my mind that should have been on the list in the travel category is TripAdvisor – how can you travel without visiting this site?
If you could only pick one Web site, which would be your most useful site? The one you just couldn’t live without?
With AOL’s acquisition of Bebo yesterday, and now discussion of a possible KickApps acquisition by AOL, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some other content candidates for AOL acquisition. If AOL is going to get serious about stepping back into the major leagues, they need more top notch content sites. All of these acquisition ideas would work well with Userplane, AIM, ICQ and Bebo, all AOL-owned companies.
This NY-based startup is targeted at moms and would be an excellent complement for AOL’s branded Web sites. CafeMom is currently serving 100 million pageviews and an average of 200 pages per user per month. This would make a great place for Platform-A and could be an extension for the Bebo "engagement marketing" platform. (our coverage)
A niche social network for barking and meowing, Dogster and Catster could fit into the AOL branded sites as well. An acquisition of Dogster and Catster by AOL would give both sites new distribution opportunities along with a new advertising partner. (our coverage)
I am guessing that a decent percentage of TripAdvisor users are already AOL customers, either as dial-up, broadband or Web site visitors. TripAdvisor is currently owned by Expedia but I think the match would be better with AOL — could replace the AOL Travel site. The TripAdvisor network serves pages to 60 million unique visitors a month and includes 8 web sites including my favorite, SeatGuru. (our coverage)
It seems in the time since I started CN there’s been chatter here and there about SimplyHired being acquired by someone. It’s a better acquisition target than going after a job site as SimplyHired would give AOL the best of both worlds: all the job listings from the major job boards plus the ability to enhance listings to generate even more revenue. The publisher job board option would give AOL a potential "in" to publishers to push Platform A and other potential partnerships. (our coverage)
Which services do you think would be a good fit for AOL?
Editor’s note: KickApps is a sponsor on our sister site, HTMLCenter.
Last week we wrote about the TripAdvisor redesign and how disappointed we were with it. Today TripAdvisor gets some redemption points with a list of the funniest traveler comments of the past year. Here’s the list:
Not So Great Expectations
"I could have done without the blood-stained mattress and the (actual) chunk of poop on my bedspread, but I didn’t expect the Hilton."
Rest in Peace
"I spent the night in the (hotel) room and experienced a friendly spirit. This presence got into bed with me, an old lady, she was nice and I just patted her on the head and we had a comfortable restful sleep. I think I will ask for a different room next time."
Mime Over Matter
"The neighborhood is filled with aggressive mimes, including one sitting on a toilet bowl (how creative). Room cards are changed for no reason and you cannot understand why you can’t get into your room. All in all it was a very unpleasant stay."
"Time could be spent pondering over the meaning of some of the many safety signs around the complex. Out of the several we managed to identify, the two we found to be of greatest use were 1. Not to step on any crocodiles whilst bare foot, and 2. No ugly, or spotty children to frequent the pool."
Is That Really What You Meant?
"I echo the sentiments of the previous reviewer. The ambience is lacking to be sure, but the food is like angels copulating on your tongue."
"Sleeping in the street during a blizzard would be better than staying at this hell-hole. The place should be imploded."
No Accounting for Taste
"Subject: Crab Trap Restaurant. We enjoyed our experience at the Crap Trap. The food is very good with nice size portions and reasonable prices (especially for the shore). The only down side is the wait."
A Sore for Sight Eyes
"Food not special, and the couple that lives there with their dog is very ‘homey’ and ‘folksy’ types. Not for everyone. The premises are well kept, but some private parts we could see thru open door were not."
Leave It to Beaver
"Imagine awakening at 4:00 am to the sound of loud footsteps in the stairwell, only to realize that someone is drunk and knocking on your hotel door saying, ‘Beaver…it’s me. Let me in, Beaver.’"
The Last Laugh
"In fact, I told the management there that I was putting a review on your website about their poor service and they laughed at me and said go right ahead, nobody reads the TripAdvisor site."
Many of you know that I am a travel nut. Sadly I could tell you more about transit and hotels than any human should ever know. And to that end, one of my favorite sites over the years has always been TripAdvisor. I was a major member of the community/forums years ago (not so much anymore) and have always struggled with the site – it’s completely 1998 with tons of ads and just bits of content with piled on ads. But the content that’s there is the strongest online. Nothing else compares to TripAdvisor – FlyerTalk comes close but it’s different. TripAdvisor is mainstream travel folks and FlyerTalk is for travel nuts like me.
So when I learned today that they relaunched the site today, I bought a cake with candles and everything! Sadly I am a bit disappointed – actually – I am very disappointed. All they did was slap an updated design on the site – I don’t see any real added functionality over the previous version. The ads are much cleaner now which is a huge improvement over the previous version so kudos on that front.
Though I will say that TripAdvisor kicks Mahalo’s arse on travel pages. Jason loves to run around with his pups shouting about his Paris Hotels page (even used it in LeWeb) and how much better it is than Google’s results. Hey Jason – why don’t you compare yours to TripAdvisor sometime :) The TripAdvisor page has thousands of hotels with thousands of real reviews and customizations, etc. Not a static page that barely gets updated.
So where does TripAdvisor need to go? Baby steps so as not to scare their mainstream user base. First, they need to acquire TripIt. Second, they need to start to focus on the 2nd generation of Internet users who want something more than just great hotel reviews. Think about sites such as Dopplr, Plazes, Driftr, etc. and look at creating a more social travel site — I know you have trip sharing but that’s still barely into 2nd gen. And yes, I understand your bread is buttered on affiliate shares.