Empty lobby of a hotel. Soft dollar airline programs cut costs in travel budgets.

If your company has been trying to save money on business travel, you’ve probably explored or even enrolled in airline soft dollar programs. You’re receiving points in exchange for spending a certain amount with that airline annually and using points for free tickets, class of service upgrades and airline club day passes.

The Hard Impact of Soft Dollars

Soft dollar airline programs are ideal for small to mid-sized companies. The rewards for your company on every dollar spent on business travel can stack up quickly and employees get to keep the loyalty miles for their personal use. But what good is collecting these points if you don’t know how to most effectively use them to save the company money, or to improve the productivity of your road warriors? Proactive travel management companies with expertise in assisting small- and medium-sized accounts will offer advice on how to use soft dollar tickets most effectively before they expire. Hands-on travel management companies will provide input on how to use soft dollar points to offset travel costs. Is this happening with your travel management partner?

A soft dollar program is one of the most valuable components in your business travel budget.

How it Works
A soft dollar program is one of the most valuable components in your business travel budget. The process is simple. Your partner can easily enroll your company in a soft-dollar program with any of the major airlines. You provide basic company information and appoint an administrator who will handle the points. Once enrolled, your dedicated agents should include the company’s soft dollar ID on all airline tickets issued to ensure the company gets credit. With your partner tracking how your airfare budget is spent, you can see just how much money you’ve saved by redeeming soft dollar tickets on the more expensive flights. Their business travel experts analyze spending patterns and your company’s most popular routes to help identify the best match in an airline partner.

Areas of Caution

Your travel management partner should also steer you away from the program’s pitfalls – such as allowing your soft dollar points to expire – and will also make sure you don’t miss your spending target, as most programs require an annual revenue threshold or your program will be deactivated. And, your employees won’t have to remember to apply the program code to each reservation when they use a proprietary booking portal.

Your travel management partner should also steer you away from the program’s pitfalls.

Where to Start
If your travel management partner hasn’t enrolled you in soft dollar programs, or if they aren’t offering guidance on how to best leverage these programs, it might be time to evaluate the relationship. A company like Travel Leaders Group can offer major assistance with airfare savings. Our travel experts advise you on when to use points for high-fare routes and how to distribute the plan’s perks to your hardest working road warriors, especially those valuable Business Class upgrades that keep your travelers happy. It does no good to stockpile soft dollar points if you still have employees booking last-minute tickets with sky-high fares. We can monitor employee bookings to make sure you’re getting the maximum value from the program as well as provide a high-level view of the impact soft dollars have on your overall budget.

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