From the September 1998 issue of Entrepreneur

Not sure where to stay on your next business trip? Why not try a bed-and-breakfast (B&B)? More corporate travelers are doing just that, according to the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII), a trade organization for bed-and-breakfast owners.

In urban areas, a quarter of all B&B guests describe themselves as business travelers, according to PAII. And visits to B&Bs by road warriors were up across the nation last year, says Pat Hardy, co-executive director for PAII. "People are discovering the advantages of a bed-and-breakfast," she says. Those include personal service, better safety than many hotels can offer, and a home-cooked breakfast.

John Wiley, who manages the historic 1790 House Bed & Breakfast in Georgetown, South Carolina, with his wife, Patricia, says travelers feel like they're coming home when they stay at a B&B. "After just one visit, many of them become repeat customers," he adds.

It's even possible to collect frequent-stay points at B&Bs. InnPoints Rewards is a system offered through InnPoints Worldwide Inc. of Albuquerque, New Mexico. InnPoints' executive vice president Mark Brown says frequent guests at any of the network's 400 properties can collect points that may be redeemed for frequent flier miles or free stays. For more information about the InnPoints Rewards program, call (800) 401-2262.


Christopher Elliott is a writer in Los Angeles and a columnist for "ABC News Online."

Browse And Book

Ticket fees drive travelers to the Net.

Escalating fees have business travelers thinking twice about buying airline tickets from travel agents. Two-thirds of agencies impose surcharges of $8 to $20 per ticket, according to the American Society of Travel Agents.

Booking a flight on the Internet lets road warriors avoid the extra fees. An April study by new-media research firm Jupiter Communications suggests travelers did just that last year, to the tune of $911 million in total online travel transactions.

But tracking down low prices on a booking engine can be a headache, and you might even end up with a more expensive fare. "Travel agents and booking engines have their strengths and weaknesses," concedes Terry Jones, chief information officer at Dallas-based Sabre Group, which operates the popular Travelocity booking engine.

Services like Travelocity might be free, but they don't always turn up bargain prices. Looking for less costly connections or red-eye flights on the Web requires practice.

James Shillinglaw, editor of Travel Agent magazine in New York City, says most business travelers will continue to use travel agents. "People booking online complain about how long it takes," he says. "With an agent, you make one phone call, and when you hang up, you have an itinerary."

Road Notes

  • Network Solutions Inc. in Herndon, Virginia, is offering a new portable e-mail service for business travelers. Dot COM Mail allows subscribers to reserve a personal Web address with three e-mail boxes that feature spam-blocking. Cost: $119 for the first 2 years, plus a $5 monthly charge per mailbox after 1998. For more information, call (888) 642-9675.
  • Southwest Airlines' in-flight magazine, Spirit, now features Dollar Rent A Car coupons worth 10 percent off a car rental until February 28, 1999, at select Dollar locations. Travelers can also mention I.D. No. SW5695 when making reservations to get the discount. For more information, call (800) 800-4000.
  • American Airlines' AAdvantage Dining program now offers 10 miles--instead of three--for every qualified dollar spent at more than 6,500 participating restaurants throughout the United States. Under the new program, members earn mileage for their first visit each month at each participating restaurant. The number of miles earned is based on the total dollars spent, including food, beverage, tax and tip. Interested? Call (800) 439-2031 to sign up.

Christopher Elliott is a writer in Los Angeles and a columnist for "ABC News Online."

Contact Sources

1790 House Bed & Breakfast, 630 Highmarket St., Georgetown, SC 29440, (803) 546-4821

American Society of Travel Agents, (800) 965-ASTA, www.astanet.com

Jupiter Communications, (212) 780-6060, www.jupiter.com

Professional Association of Innkeepers International, www.paii.org

James Shillinglaw, c/o Travel Agent, 801 Second Ave., New York, NY 10017, (212) 370-5050

Travelocity, (713) 546-2230, judy@vollmerpr.com