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Optimizing Corporate Travel with Preferred Airline Partnerships

preferred airline partnerships

Preferred airline partnerships are collaborations between companies and specific airlines, offering numerous benefits such as discounted fares for business travel, priority services like dedicated check-ins or boarding, and more flexible booking options. These partnerships provide advantages like cost savings through negotiated rates while enhancing the travel experience for employees with perks such as lounge access or priority services. 

This blog explains how you can optimize corporate travel with preferred airline partnerships.

Benefits of Preferred Airline Partnerships

For companies that require frequent business travel, preferred airline partnerships can provide a range of valuable benefits:

1. Cost Savings on Flights

Negotiated corporate deals allow companies to receive discounted airfares, often 10-30% below publicly available fares. Airline collaborations for businesses give access to unpublished discounted fares and inventory. This results in major cost savings, especially for companies with employees flying often for business trips and client meetings.

2. Reward Points and Elite Status 

Many airline partnerships allow corporate travelers to earn airline miles or status points. This enables employees to enjoy elite status benefits and redeem personal trips using earned miles. Companies may also be able to redeem miles for business travel expenses.

3. Priority Services

Preferred airline partners often provide elite-like services to corporate travelers. This can include waived baggage fees, priority boarding, priority security access, and priority rebooking in case of disruptions. These services enhance the travel experience for frequent business flyers.

How Do You Negotiate a Corporate Deal with Airlines?

When negotiating preferred airline partnerships, there are a few key steps companies should take:

1. Understand your company’s flight volume and overall spending

Analyze historical flight data to determine your annual air travel spend across different routes, airlines, and classes of service. This gives you leverage in negotiations and helps set potential discount targets.

2. Leverage your negotiating power

Make the amount of revenue your company could provide airlines clear. Emphasize that a discount would incentivize employees to fly that airline more frequently.

3. Offer incentives like loyalty in return.

Airlines will appreciate a good faith agreement to consolidate more of your company’s flights with them in exchange for fare discounts and other perks. Make it a win-win partnership.

4. Start discussions early

Begin conversations well in advance, at least 3-6 months ahead of contract renewal dates. This provides more time to negotiate terms.

5. Compare multiple offers

Don’t take the first deal presented. Talk to competing airlines and give them a chance to beat terms. 

Key Factors in Choosing Preferred Airlines

When selecting airline partners, companies should evaluate carriers based on key factors like route networks, service quality, flight loyalty programs, and fares. 

Route Networks and Flight Frequency

A top priority is ensuring the airline serves all the key routes and destinations your employees travel to, both domestically and internationally. The frequency of flights along those routes is also vital – having multiple flight options per day allows for greater flexibility in booking and reduces the risk of disruption.  

Some questions to analyze:

  • Does the airline have direct flights to our company’s key destinations? 
  • How many flights per day do they offer on our most-used routes?
  • Do flight times align with our travel demand patterns?
  • Are their hubs conveniently located for our travel needs?

Service Quality and Amenities

While price is key, airline service and amenities should be evaluated thoroughly when choosing partners. Areas like:

  • Cabin comfort – seat size, legroom, WiFi access, power outlets.
  • Complimentary food/beverages – quality, choices.  
  • Entertainment options include in-flight movies, TV, and music.
  • Premium cabin offerings.
  • Lounge access policies.
  • Staff service levels.

These details contribute significantly to the employee travel experience. Airlines with higher service quality may justify higher fares.

Loyalty Program Benefits 

Loyalty programs provide perks to frequent flyers. Airlines vary widely on aspects like:  

  • Ease of earning status/miles.
  • Value of award redemptions.
  • Airline/partner rewards charts.  
  • Complimentary upgrades.
  •  Priority services.
  •  Partner earning and redemption options.

Companies should assess the loyalty programs of potential airline partners and negotiate status benefits as part of corporate deals.

Pricing

Airline rates offered through corporate discounts will be a central determinant in any partnership agreement. Companies should benchmark current fares across key routes and obtain airline rate guarantees as part of negotiated deals. Rate advantages should be weighed against other factors.

Evaluating airlines on these core factors will enable companies to select optimal preferred partners tailored to their travel patterns and priorities.

Managing Multiple Airline Relationships

When companies have airline collaborations for businesses, managing all these relationships together can be challenging but rewarding if done well. Some key factors include:

Consolidated reporting on all partnerships: It’s crucial to have centralized reporting that provides a high-level view of the business conducted across all airline partners. This allows for tracking metrics like customer loyalty, revenue generated, flights booked, discounts obtained, destinations covered, etc. This reporting helps optimize partnerships and identify where opportunities exist.

Balancing partnerships based on employee needs/preferences: While corporate discounts drive some flight bookings, employees often have airline preferences, too. Having partnerships with multiple airlines gives employees flight options while maintaining preferred fares. Partner data should be reviewed to ensure airline flight demand is balanced based on employee needs. If some airline collaborations for businesses are underutilized, adjustments may be needed.

Coordinating contract terms and negotiations: When managing multiple airline partnerships, there are overlapping contract terms, incentives, and deadlines. It’s important to coordinate coherently when partnerships are due for renegotiation or renewal. Look for ways to strengthen negotiation power across all partnerships.

Priority levels: Most airline partnerships include priority boarding and lounge access for frequent business travelers. Managing access across airlines while designating your company’s priority tiers enables employees to benefit fully from these airline programs.

Choose ITILITE for Airline Collaborations

ITILITE’s dedicated team actively negotiates with airlines on your behalf, ensuring you get the best deals, premium services, and exclusive benefits tailored just for you. Our relentless commitment to securing unmatched arrangements means your business travel experience transcends the ordinary.

Elevate your corporate travel management program with ITILITE as your strategic partner, where every negotiation is a step towards a more efficient, rewarding, and delightful travel experience. 

Book a free demo to know more. 

Discover a simpler way to manage corporate travel

Corporate travel management can be extremely daunting. Getting travelers to stick to budgets while booking travel, monitoring spends or finding support for travelers – there is always something that needs to be done. That’s why we built a solution that makes corporate travel management simpler.

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