When your job takes you away from home, bringing your family along may actually make good business sense. With travel industry experts predicting an overall increase in daily hotel rates for 2006, combining work and pleasure not only helps keep the family together but could save you money. According to Travelocity, half of all business professionals include a leisure component in their work-related travels, with more than 70 percent planning to bring family with them on trips this year. "The blended business/family trip is quickly becoming a significant trend," said Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president of marketing for Best Western International.
To ensure successful "combination" travel for you and your family, consider these tips:
• Choose a family-friendly hotel with business services: You'll have more money to spend on activities and attractions by staying at a hotel with services such as free high-speed Internet access, free breakfast, free roll-out beds and kids-stay-free programs.
• Take advantage of loyalty programs: If you travel frequently on business, you could take advantage of these incentive clubs to qualify for free air miles and hotel room nights. Seasonal promotions also help travelers earn special rewards faster. For example, members of Best Western's free Gold Crown Club International program who stay six nights at any Best Western hotel between June 4 and August 19 will receive a collectible Nickelodeon "The Fairly OddParents" Travel Card worth $50.
• Don't forget Fido: For many travelers, the biggest source of stress before going on any trip is figuring out what to do with the family pet. Many hotels today welcome pets, making it possible to keep the whole family together.
• Find a hotel with a water park: With attendance at North American water parks increasing at a rate of 3 percent every year, some hotels offer this unique amenity on-site. The new Best Western Edgewater Resort & Water Park in Duluth, Minn., features an exploding volcano in a 35,000-square-foot facility, along with a 400-foot-long lazy river. Your kids will thank you.
• Be flexible, relax and have fun! It's important to recognize that schedules change, meetings may come up or the kids could get sick, so everyone needs to be flexible. Your next business trip could also be a minivacation with the family.