Bon Voyage!

Car Rental and Online Deals

Best Site for Hotel/Car Rental Rate Deals:

Priceline.com
For business travelers on a budget, location and price are the main factors in choosing a hotel. As long as the hotel is a good value and it's near the place you're doing business, it's probably fine. The same goes for rental cars--it doesn't matter which rental car company you choose as long as you get an on-airport location, a clean car and a decent price.

That's why lots of travelers have jumped at Priceline.com's model of allowing users to name their own prices for an unknown hotel or rental car company. The uncertainty at the time of booking is a small price to pay for the savings you'll pocket (up to 40 percent or more off published hotel rates, 25 percent off rental car rates) with a successful bid. Currently, more than 20,000 hotels around the world are listed on Priceline.com. It offers deals on cars from the five biggest names in the rental car business and guarantees it will find you the best rental car rate, pledging to refund 100 percent of the difference if you find a lower rate anywhere else. Find out more at www.priceline.com .

Best Car Rental Value:

Enterprise Rent-A-Car
For the third consecutive year, Enterprise gets the prize for its no-nonsense approach to car rentals. Enterprise is the Wal-Mart of car rentals (with more than 6,000 locations), so expect low prices but few frills. You won't get frequent-flier miles and the other perks that bump up rates at other rental car companies. Enterprise's rates are about 20 percent less than those of its competitors, but you can still rely on clean cars, helpful employees and plenty of on-airport locations. Frequent renters can get even lower rates when signing up for its Corporate Class program. And for five out of the last six years, the company has ranked highest in the J.D. Power and Associates Rental Car Satisfaction Study. For more information, see www.enterprise.com .

Best Site for Airfare Deals:

SideStep.com
One of the biggest drawbacks to shopping for airfare deals on websites like Expedia or Orbitz is that they don't list all airline fares available. Enter SideStep, a free program you download onto your PC that searches multiple travel booking sites (including online agencies; consolidators; and airline, hotel and rental car company sites) for the lowest fares. It presents all fares side by side to make them easy to compare.

While you can't book trips with SideStep, it provides links to the websites where the best deals are posted. Recently, SideStep added the ability to search for fares from a web-based platform--good news for Mac users who couldn't use the software program designed for PCs. For more information, see www.sidestep.com .

Best Site for Travel Advice:

USAToday.com/travel
When it comes to covering the travel business, there's no better site than USAToday.com/travel. With a full staff of reporters and freelancers covering the travel beat, business travelers are sure to find every shred of news, advice or opinion that can keep them in the loop and improve their lives on the road. The day's top travel stories are listed on the main page, and from there, you'll find links to other articles and columns that apply to your travel habits. For example, if you're a frequent flier, check out the daily air travel blog, "Today in the Sky." Frequent hotel guests should tune in to the weekly "Hotel Hotsheet." There's also a weekly "Business Traveler" column that offers advice or takes on an issue of importance to road warriors. Check it out at www.usatoday.com/travel .

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This article was originally published in the April 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Bon Voyage!.

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