Travel isn't the same for owners and employees of smaller companies as it is for people working for large corporations. Most of the time, travelers from small businesses pay for their travel expenses out of their own pockets, with no generous expense accounts to fall back on. While that used to mean traveling on a shoestring, noncorporate travelers recently started stepping up in the world. No longer are they willing to accept inconvenient flights; small, dark hotel rooms; or clunky, old rental cars just because they're inexpensive. That's not to say independent travelers are out there burning dollars. But as their businesses grow, they're increasingly willing to spend a little more money on travel if they feel they're getting more value.
Travel suppliers are taking note of that trend. As a matter of fact, some are even changing their names to reflect a focus in that direction. For example, the Budgetel hotel chain recently changed its name to Baymont Inns & Suites and spent the past year upgrading its offerings and its image as it migrated from the "economy" to the "midmarket" segment of the hotel industry. Also, major airlines have recently launched programs offering small businesses added value in the form of discounts and perks that were traditionally reserved for large corporations.
Remember, our awards do not constitute a formal or scientific survey--they're just our highly subjective choice of suppliers with offerings of true value for independent travelers.