While some people don’t like them, for most of us business trips can be kind of exciting. You’ve been chosen, after all, to represent your company and its brand and if you can get around the pitfalls of business travel, sometimes it’s even kind of fun!
In today’s article, we’re going to provide some tips for both new and veteran business travelers that can help you to get a little edge and to minimize the chances of travel disasters stressing you out or causing you to make potentially critical mistakes that can affect your business’s bottom line.
Read on for 7 lucky tips that make for productive business trips – you’ll be happy that you did!
Familiarize yourself with the company travel policy
It’s a good idea to research your company’s travel policies well in advance and failure to do so might even cost you your job! For instance, while some companies allow you to claim frequent flyer miles when they are paying for the travel, not all companies will allow this and you could get yourself in trouble if you don’t know.
If your company expects you to make the travel arrangements, then they might have specific vendors that you are expected to go to for ticket purchases and even for car rentals. There will also be rules on what you can and cannot be reimbursed for, so a little research in advance is not only a good idea, it’s vital!
Company and locale-specific research always pays off
If you are not traveling to another branch of your own company, but rather meeting with a separate entity, then you should visit their website and learn what you can about their history.
The ‘about’ page on most company websites will give you a little information that you can use conversationally to ‘grease the rails’ with your initial communications and to show this potential business partner that you care about developing close relations. Trust us on this one – it can make all of the difference.
You also want to know local customs if you will be traveling to a foreign locale. Local customs and etiquette are sometimes the same, but more often there’s a big chance that they are quite different from what you are used to. So, do a Google search for ‘business etiquette’ with the country name to ‘hedge your bets’ for success.
As a bit of side advice, check that your vaccinations are all in order as well – this little gem of advice is easy to forget with the thrill of getting to go somewhere new.
Non-stop flights are your best option
If your company will reimburse it, ALWAYS go with non-stop flights whenever you can. You’ll get there faster and you’ll be more well-rested, plus also helps to ensure that layovers or missed flights don’t cost your company important business and subsequently affect your company’s view on your character and efficiency.
If non-stop flights are not an option, then you are going to have to plan it so that you have plenty of time to get to your next flight. Do NOT try for connections that only give you a window of 20 minutes or half an hour to connect – more often than not you’ll arrive late and you’re not going to have a good day.
Make the most of layovers
Layovers are not much fun but a good habit to get into is to start making the most of them. Locate a comfy spot and a solid wifi connection and check your business emails frequently. That way if any last-minute requests come from your ‘home base’ then you will get them and be ready.
You can also research the company you will be meeting with and you’ll have time to go over your strategies for the meeting so that you can polish and streamline them to perfection. Yes, layovers are inconvenient and nobody likes them, but if you learn early to ‘weaponize’ them then they can also give you an enormous edge.
Charge your electronic gear fully before you leave
Speaking of layovers, having your vital electronics ‘die’ on you can make you miss out on crucial information and also make those extra layover minutes seem like an eternity when you’re left with nothing to do but sit and wait.
If you make frequent business trips, it’s a good idea to create a ‘charging station’ at home that can accommodate all of your electronic gear so that you can charge everything the night before. We’d even recommend taking it further and investing in a power bank to put in your carry-on luggage.
Losing power at the wrong time can take away your ability to easily access company announcements, important emails, or the option to ask questions to clarify important points before you step in as a representative of your business entity.
As such, you must charge everything the night before so that you have full access to all of your tools for as long as is feasibly possible. You never want to go into a business meeting ‘blind’.
Start using the airport lounges
A ‘rookie’ business travel mistake is spending a lot of time in those uncomfortable ‘general queues’ waiting for areas when there is a perfectly good airport lounge at your disposal.
Seasoned travelers know to gravitate towards airport lounges because the amenities are better. The seating is more comfortable, the WIFI is often more reliable than the standard airport offering, and then added all together it means that you’ll arrive less-stressed and better informed.
To put it simply, if you have the option to be more comfortable and better cared for, why not take it? Airports are stressful enough as it is, so if there’s an oasis available to you in the form of an airport lounge, you want to get into the habit of taking advantage of this.
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Stick to carry-on only luggage if you can
One of the biggest stresses of business travel is your luggage. If you have to check some in, missed flights and layovers have the potential to bite you in a dozen different ways. For 2- 3 day business trips, for instance, your lost luggage might not get back to you until you’ve been home already for a few days!
If you can whittle down your luggage requirements to carry-on only baggage then this will never be an issue and you’ll save 30-45 minutes in the bargain by avoiding simply not having to pick up checked-in gear when you arrive.
If this is not possible, due to special requirements or because of a lengthy business trip duration, then try to make sure that your essentials (toiletries, electronics, and such) are part of your carry-on luggage.
In the case of long trips, consider priority mailing what you can to your hotel in advance. You can save a lot of time and stress this way and can always mail stuff to yourself before you leave if you have a bad history of airports losing your luggage most of the time. It’s only practical to hedge your bets.
Some final words on business trip readiness
While business trips can be stressful, with a little preparation and the cultivation of a few useful habits, you might find that you start to love these little outings away from the office.
Just remember to familiarize yourself with company policy first – you can find hidden benefits and you’ll know exactly who to book with and what expenses you’ll get back. You’ll also want to get in the habit of researching 3rd-party companies so that they can see your interest and if they are abroad, it’s vital to learn the etiquette in advance.
Take non-stop flights whenever you can and start viewing layovers as ‘bonus preparation time’. If you’ve changed your gear in advance, then that’s exactly what layovers can be, and if you use the airport lounge, you’ll be as comfortable as feasibly possible in those cramped airport environments.
Finally, stick with carry-on only baggage because travelling light makes you move faster. These 7 tips might seem deceptively simple, but if you take them to heart then benefits are going to exponentially improve your career options for the future. You’ll thank us later!
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