Just curious as to why you are not getting reimbursed for travel expenses? Sounds like you need a better contract! Otherwise, you can deduct travel expenses when you itemize on taxes. That and eat ramen noodles and stay at Budget Inns... :(
Make sure you ask your clients if they have a negotiated rate for a property in the area. This can save you a good deal out of pocket or make a nicer property line up price wise with other properties. If you are on your own dime, maximize your points when someone else is paying for the stays by using higher category properties and paying the upper end of what the client will repay. This way you have more for use when its your wallet covering the costs. Ways to maximize points could also include getting different/better points programs with your credit cards, so if you don't have the black chase Marriott card, consider it as it will add 5pts for every dollar you spend to stay.
1) Travel on off-days whenever possible. In many business locations, weekend stays are much cheaper than mid-week stays. Often you can get 2 days for less than the price of one. Generally, Thursday and Sunday nights will count if you include a Friday or Saturday night. 2) Spend points instead of dollars when it makes sense. Often, you can find a really good deal with points even when hotel rates are high -- especially if you are willing to stay at a TPS, CY or FI. There are some great Cat 2 hotels that are in $200+ a night areas. Remember you can buy up to 50,000 points every year that's 5 Cat 2 hotels for $625 (and you don't have to pay lodging taxes!) 3) Take advantage of brands with full or partial kitchens to save on meals. Even a mini-fridge allows you to save leftovers. 4) Make sure you pay with you Marriott credit card for all of your Marriott purchases. The signature card gives 5pts/$ spent at Marriott. This adds up quickly towards free stays. 5) Watch for Marriott Gift Card promotions. Generally this happens towards the end of the year, but you can often get the cards for 10% off. If you plan your budget carefully, it's a great way to stretch your travel budget.