business people shaking handsLarge hotel and car rental chains, as well as many airlines, all give corporate discounts for employees of large companies that most anyone can take advantage. Hotels, airlines, and other players in the travel industry typically give these discounts to entice the huge business a corporate partner can give them.

Since sales staff will rarely verify your employment by a corporate partner you can often get a corporate discount just by saying your work for (some specific) Fortune 100 company.

In addition to discounts, a corporate connection (or just by saying you have one) can get you bumped to the front of the line when there’s a shortage of rental cars or you’re a few behind first in the standby line. While I won’t debate the ethics of doing so, the best way to maximize your corporate discounts is to research ahead and not be shy to ask.

Pick Your Company

You’ll need a company that you’re an employee of but generally anyone on the Fortune 100 is a good bet.

Call Ahead

Prior to booking any hotel, rental car, or airline reservation give the specific branch a call directly and ask if they have a corporate discount. Don’t be shy and call around to see what’s available and which companies have agreements with which chains. No need to go into details of exaggerate (you’re just an employee, not the CEO).

  • Don’t forget to check for conferences in and around town the dates you’ll be there. Hotels usually have discounted rooms for those attending corporate and private conferences (like Comic-Con). Do a simple Google search to find conferences of all sizes.
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Head Of The Line

man waiting in line at airportWe’ve all seen chaos at ticket counters and hotel lobbies when things are overbooked. People go up to the clerk and fall back to the crowd in a rotating line of frustration. Using your corporate connection you can go up to the counter and get yourself bumped to the head of the line and maybe even get a better deal while you’re at it. Your ‘corporate discount’ may entitle you to an upgrade, so while all of the rooms are booked there might be a presidential suite you can afford.

Sorry, We’re Out

A busy weekend where there are no rental cars, rooms, or flights available usually means not available for the general public. Companies usually set aside a certain number of cars, rooms, seats, etc. for valued members, which generally includes those with corporate connections. All you have to do is say you’re traveling for (insert Fortune 100 company here) and ask if there’s anything available for preferred customers.

  • Don’t panic if you’re asked to show some proof of your employment. Just say you don’t have any – if that costs you a discount then so be it.
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Keep A List

list on notepadIt’s best to be organized and keep track of which places gave you which discounts so you’ll have less reconnaissance to do next time you book. You can also try changing companies to see if perhaps some get better discounts than others.

Things To Remember:

  • You don’t necessarily need to be wearing a business suit when you ask or when you show up.
  • While large chains are usually a safe bet ask for corporate discounts and smaller hotels which may not advertise their corporate partnerships.

All You Have To Do Is Ask

You don’t have to wear makeup, change your voice over the phone, or come up with an elaborate story about how you became the most powerful person since Steve Jobs. It’s as simple as coming up with a company big you work for (whether you do or not) and asking if that hotel, rental car company, or airline offer a corporate discount. The worst that can happen is they don’t or won’t give you one which is where you’ll be if you never ask anyway.

[photo by: thinkpanama, Warder Jack, koalazymonkey]