October 26 2011 by Chris McGinnis
The travel industry is no different. Throughout the year, there are predictable peaks and valleys in demand and pricing. Travelers who study them save the most money and have the most comfortable trips.
As the holidays approach, peaks and valleys in demand and pricing multiply, so here's a road map to help you plan your business travel for the upcoming season:
November 1-17: Low demand
As Thanksgiving week approaches, travel demand and pricing fall, making this a good time to schedule business trips. But be aware of exceptions in major cities hosting large conventions such as New York, Orlando, Chicago or San Francisco.
November 18-23 (Fri-Weds): High demand
Forget about trying to schedule business trips during the Thanksgiving peak when airfares soar and airports become clogged with amateurs. Drivers should be aware of traffic jams at unusual times as well.
November 24-25 (Thurs-Fri): Low demand
Savvy travelers have learned to make a surgical strike on Thanksgiving by flying in on Thursday morning, then flying out on Friday evening.
November 26-29 (Sat-Tues): High demand
As travelers return from Thanksgiving, it's time for big crowds. This means high prices. Big headaches. A perfect time for a teleconference!
November 30-Dec 20: Low demand
Early December is one of the very best times of year for business travel. Prices plunge. Crowds go home. (Exception: New York City which is packed with holiday shoppers.) Clients are in good moods. You might even get invited to a holiday party!
December 21-January 3: High demand
Christmas falls on Sunday this year, so peak travel days begin on the Tuesday or Wednesday before. If you can, try to avoid returning to the roads or skies until the Tuesday after New Years.
Aside from the threat of inclement weather, early January is also a fine time for business travel--it's low season, so fares are down, crowds are thin, and the airport belongs to the road warrior. You might even get a cherished upgrade.