Best in Business Travel

Where to invest your travel dollars this year.

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The economy is in the doldrums, and companies are forced to wrest every molecule of value out of every business trip. Are road warriors caught in the squeeze? Now that it’s a buyer’s market, the answer is not necessarily, especially if they choose brands like these five, which have perfected the balance between value and service.

Jet-setter:

Bill Johns, 32
Pathfinder Products Intl.
Costa Mesa, California

Frequent-flier miles: While it’s almost impossible to log the number of miles traveled since the inception of his flameless candle company in 2004, Johns says he was “on the road” three months of the year in 2008, mostly outside of the U.S.

Where in the world: He has traveled to cities in China, Cambodia, England, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand, The United Arab Emirates and Turkey--and that’s just in the past year.

Must-have travel tool: Johns used to travel with a laptop, but he ditched it for a BlackBerry to make traveling easier. “You’re able to use a BlackBerry anywhere,” he says. “It’s the only thing you need--that and a passport.”

Travel tips:

  • Join a rewards program. Johns is a member of Oneworld, a frequent-flier program that earns rewards for 10 airlines. He racks up points for future flights that he uses for himself or any of his six employees.
  • Consult a travel guide. Anytime Johns goes to a new country, he picks up a copy of Lonely Planet, a series of guides with info on languages, currencies, maps, transportation, and more, for various countries.
  • Have fun, too. Excessive travel doesn’t get exhausting for Johns, “because you have to mix in the fun with the work,” he says. “There has to be a reward for going.”  --L.H.

  • Jet-setter:
    Claudia Chan, 34
    Shecky’s Media Inc.
    New York City

    Frequent-flier miles: As president of a company that hosts girl-centric lifestyle and shopping events throughout the country, Chan travels to up to 18 markets yearly and estimates she has flown more than 500,000 miles.

    Where in the world: Most of Chan’s travels keep her crisscrossing the U.S.: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

    Must-have travel tool: Chan seconds the vote on a BlackBerry. She says that and a Verizon Wireless card “keep me connected to the clients I’m on my way to visit, the office and my friends and family.”

    Travel tips:

    • Network before you travel. Chan travels to promote events, visit clients, attend trade shows and more; however, she’s always looking to grow, so she researches additional business prospects before she travels to make her trip especially worthwhile.
    • Take a cab to the airport. “You can work while you’re on your way,” Chan says, “and you don’t have to worry about the parking.”
    • Prep for security. For Chan, that means saving a belt and jewelry for when she arrives at her destination. She says, “It’s one less thing you’ll have to take off for security.”  --L.H.

    • Jet-setter:
      Tristan Schukraft, 30
      ID90 Technologies
      Los Angeles

      Frequent-flier miles: Three-year-old ID90T is often likened to an Expedia for airline employees, so Schukraft spends a fair amount of time traveling: seven to 10 days a month and sometimes more than 10,000 miles a week.

      Where in the world: Schukraft has taken many trips to Cordoba, Argentina, where ID90T’s tech is based, but he has also traveled domestically to Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, New York City and Seattle; and internationally to Argentina, Brazil, France, French Polynesia, Kenya, Mexico, Panama, Russia and Switzerland (just to name a few).

      Must-have travel tool: Vote No. 3 for a BlackBerry, though he does travel with a laptop, too: his tiny, lightweight Sony VAIO.

      Travel tips:

      • Use Skype. “It will save you a ton on phone bills when you’re chatting from a hotel room or a lounge,” Schukraft says, “and you can use it to forward all your calls.”
      • Use the right credit card. Translation: one that earns points toward airlines and hotels. Says Schukraft, “You can save big in places like Paris, where hotels can cost 300 euros or more a night.”


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        travel
        airlines