As I put together this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, I’m sitting at Gate C30 at the airport, dealing with yet another flight delay. It’s a typical day and typical office setting as I head out to yet another industry trade show.

You might not be heading to a trade show right now and my guess is that you aren’t sitting at Gate C30, but I suspect you have been in my shoes. Travel simply comes with the territory for many of today’s jobs, especially in the promotional products industry.

Business travel isn’t all bad. You can sign up for rewards programs and become a quadruple platinum member with lots of perks. However, business travel can take up lots of time, especially if you are booking your own flights, hotels and rental cars. It can also be a money-losing deal if you don’t keep up with your expense reports.

In this issue of PCT, we share four key business travel mistakes to avoid, as featured in a recent Inc. magazine article by author Kevin Daum. Dealing with his own travel pains, Daum turned to entrepreneur Adam Goldstein, founder of the travel site Hipmunk in recommending how to avoid these common travel mistakes.

1. Booking your travel too late. As Daum points out, with business travel, it can be hard to find the sweet spot between cost effectiveness and calendar efficiency. If you book early, there’s a chance you could incur change fees if your meeting plans change; however, if you wait to book your ticket, obviously fares will be much higher. Goldstein says, “For business, I say as soon as you know you’re going, book it.” He also recommends, when flying for personal travel, book between four to six weeks from departure to save on cost.

2. You default to round trip tickets every time. We all get in the habit of booking roundtrip tickets, but Goldstein suggests booking two one-way tickets instead. If your plans change, you might able to avoid any fees for changing your ticket, and it gives you more flexibility. Plus, sometimes it’s simply just cheaper. As he explains, “If each one-way is $100, and your plans change, you can just book a different one-way ticket in one direction and toss the original one. Whereas if you’d booked a round trip and needed to change one piece, you’d have to pay a change fee.”

3. Your rewards programs don’t match your personal needs. If you are going to have to travel for work, at least take advantage of earning rewards that you can use for yourself. And loyalty to one program can pay off. For example, in Daum’s article Goldstein points out that if your calendar often changes or your geographic destination has tricky weather–then airline loyalty can still count, giving you more travel options when the time counts. Pick a frequent flyer, car rental or hotel loyalty program and stick to it when possible.

4. Don’t waste your points. Right now I have two different car loyalty programs with some points in each, but not enough for free days. Daum points out that it is possible to take advantage of loyalty redemptions, even if you don’t have enough to fund a whole trip. Take the time to look through the redemption offerings for your various loyalty programs. You can usually trade them in for magazine subscriptions, tickets to an event or small gift items.

Until PCT returns to your inbox tomorrow, safe travels!

Source: An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with more than a $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and Roar! Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle.