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Canadian Carriers Cater to Small Business Travelers
For many small business owners, the option of air travel for business is financially out of reach when it comes to their budget.
With a rise in airfares over the past few years, rewards programs with complimentary services to exist to help alleviate any potential, financial woes when it comes to business travel.
Air Canada launched a small business specific loyalty program in 2011. The move was in partially due to an increase in competition. The Air Canada Rewards for Small Business program allows users to monitor expenses, book flights and rental cars simultaneously. In addition it also allows the user to share flight plans with other employees. Air Canada also launched a marketing campaign which features a 15% discount on the first flight booked through the program as well as a 10% discount on access to the airlines members’ only club. The Maple Leaf Club provides member access to complimentary food and beverages. The program does allow flexibility, however there is not a guarantee to get a business- class seat on every flight booked through the program.
Another Canadian based airline is also planning a similar program. Calgary based West Jet which is Canada’s second largest airline announced premium class seating in order to attract a larger share of the small business traveler market. In addition, a less known Canadian airline, Porter Airlines which operates a fleet of 70 seat turbo props has been implementing a corporate travel program for the past three years, catering to small businesses. Customers of Porter have praised the airlines program for all three of those years. The airlines program members receive reduces flight fares and don’t pay additional booking fees. Porter’s communications manager, Brad Cicero says their small business travelers are taking advantage the programs multi-pass booking option that allows them to purchase up to 100 fares with a single purchase. Cicero also says that option lets the customer become immune to any fluctuating prices that tend to happen with last minute bookings.
The Canadian airline industry reported losses of $900 million in 2011 in addition to a 30% fuel increase, the small business owners shouldn’t be expecting to see reduced fares. However, like Porter Airlines has demonstrated there is a large demand for small business travel which in the past has been overlooked by the larger carriers.