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Small Business Travel Services Help Hold Costs

Comparison shopping is the name of the game when it comes to finding a good deal. And if you’re a small-business owner looking to tighten up your transportation account, what better way to do that then by enlisting the help of a travel service?

Yapta.com is a free online service that helps travelers find the right flight at the right price. Yapta, which stands for “Your Amazing Personal Travel Assistant,” helps users track airfare prices on 25 different airlines and be notified when the rate on a specific flight drops. In addition, the service helps the traveler stay within a budget by letting him or her know when a fare falls below a predetermined spending limit.

Jeff Pecor, communications director for Yapta.com, says Yapta is the only “flight-specific” airfare-notification service available online.

“It’s also the only site that continues to track the price of your flight even after you’ve purchased your ticket and alerts you when you’re eligible for a travel voucher from your airline,” he says. For many users, Yapta is simply an extenssion of the service offered by airlines – but one that frequently isn’t used.

“Most U.S. airlines have ‘guaranteed airfare’ policies that enable you to claim a travel credit if the price of your flight drops after booking it,” explains Pecor. “Not many people know that the policy even exists – nor do they bother to check the price of their ticket after purchasing it.”

The nearly two-year-old service has helped small-business owners become savvy travelers.

Mike Gent, owner of Brooks Manufacturing Co., has used Yapta for a year, and during that time, says he’s saved his company more than $1,000.

“During this belt-tightening economy it is more important than ever to get out and visit our clients around the country, and the savings Yapta has provided make our travel budget stretch that much farther,” he says.

Once customers purchase their ticket through an airline’s Web site and they receive email confirmation, the information is then forwarded to flights@yapta.com. Yapta enters the information into the customer’s account and then begins tracking the latest fares for that itinerary.

According to Pecor, the site has alerted more than 550,000 travelers to more than $130 million in airfare savings.

Last fall, in a move to provide additional service to its clients, Yapta introduced frequent-flier-award seat alerts. So customers needn’t constantly call an airline to determine when frequent-flier miles can be used. Instead, Yapta tracks the data and then sends an email alert to its clients when they can use their miles to purchase a flight.

Currently, Yapta can track the availability of award seats on five airlines.

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