November 27, 2012
I recently checked out a new option for businesses called MasterCard Business Network (MCBN) at http://bit.ly/QQIL0C. The site allows businesses to arrange travel and expense most supplies from one location. From this site, you can get discounts on Purchase of office supplies and construction materials. Most discount are small to moderate, however there are some that range from 40%-60% off. For a small business, it would be worth joining just for those discounts since it costs nothing to sign-up and use this option.
I compared the Travel options for flights, cars, and hotels on MCBN to the trip planning site I typically use. I found some flights were cheaper on MCBN and others were cheaper on my normal site. On flights, the dollar difference was only a few dollars either way, so for the convenience of using only 1 site, so MCBN may be a better option for a company that has lots of travel as well as orders lots of supplies. I was pleased with the ease of reading the flight info on the new site. At the time I checked rental car rates, the MCBN site results for the same companies and same dates were higher than my usual site by around $10-$15 a day. I’m hoping this rental difference will improve once the site is more mature. Just as a tip: I find that you often will get a better rate by calling the local rental facility directly rather than booking on-line – however you should always check on-line first to make sure you are really getting a discount. The MCBN travel page for hotels that I checked offered exactly the same discount as my normal trip planning sites. The only thing about the MCBN site I did not like was that it did not filter out hotels that had no openings or that did not publish their rates as my typical site does. As a result I had to scroll through more hotels than necessary to make a selection.
I really like the MCBN Dining option. It was nice to look up restaurants where you were going and be able to make a reservation without going to another site. Before this new option, I had to go to city sites where I was traveling to find restaurants or run an internet search. The ratings and pricing scale were not always available on the results pages to help with decision-making, so that meant going to another site to find that data. Then once you find a place you want to go, you have to look up their number or website in order to make a reservation. It is really nice to do it all in one place.
All of the above features are part of the free registration. For a monthly fee, you can also get Expense reporting tied to a MasterCard and SmartPhone for cash receipts. You can also add your company logo and set-up your company info under the Admin Access options (top left) in order to integrate the site within an intranet. Once registered an email will be sent with bullets on why you want to use Admin Access. Individual users who have an account can set-up their personal Profile and Mobile options (top right). For more information on these options, I suggest watching the 2 minute video at bottom of home page http://bit.ly/QQIL0C. The Help option next to where users Sign-In/Out at top right is frequently asked questions which help users know where to go within the site to set-up various options and preferences. System Alerts will appear next to the Help option when there is something the user needs to know about, such as site down-times.