It’s been a while, but business travel is back!
Most of us have become all too familiar with sitting behind a screen for back-to-back Zoom and Teams meetings, but meeting in-person is making a comeback; there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction.
But before embarking on that all important business trip it is important that you prepare – do you have clear objectives for your trip, do you understand what you are trying to get out of it and how it will benefit the business? Are you attending a networking event, are you meeting with new prospective clients, are you exhibiting at or attending a conference, or are you going to check out a new jurisdiction in which to expand your business by setting up a new office?
Whatever the purpose of your trip, here are our top business travel tips to help you start your business trip on the right foot.
When travelling to a country or city that you are unfamiliar with, research is essential.
It is important to familiarise yourself with where you are going and the area in which you are staying. Review your itinerary and assess the best way to get around. Be sure to plan how you will get from A to B, to C etc. You do not want to find yourself apologising to a prospective new client for being late or unable to make the meeting purely because you did not plan how to get there effectively.
Make sure you also research local political situations, culture, customs and etiquette. It can help avoid unnecessary risk or embarrassment and can be useful in understanding any differences in behaviours or manners. If the first language is different to your own, why not learn how to say “hello” “thank you” and “goodbye” in their language – a few basic phrases can go a long way.
When booking accommodation, the primary thing to bear in mind is location.
Research hotels that are in close proximity to your meetings to avoid unnecessary stress when having to commute back and forth.
Look to reserve a room with a hotel that offers flexibility and free cancellation. This can help avoid unnecessary costs should your travel plans change or have to be cancelled last minute.
Is it your first time travelling for business? Make sure you review your company’s travel policy. It should outline the process and procedure for booking travel i.e. flights and hotels, any sustenance allowance, payment provisions and claiming expenses upon your return. You should also check whether there is a company travel insurance policy in place that covers your trip or whether a separate new policy is required.
A clear and concise travel itinerary will provide you with the blueprint for a successful business trip.
Detail is key – include transport arrangements, accommodation reservations, meeting dates and times, and most importantly the names of anyone you are meeting and any key details about them in preparation for your meeting.
Make sure you allow for possible delays should a meeting overrun or you experience traffic issues – first impressions count so don’t make it a bad one by being late.
When packing for a business trip there are a few things to bear in mind.
How long is your trip? What is the typical weather/climate where you are going? What is the purpose of your trip? Are you attending any events that have a specific dress code?
Ensure your choice of outfits are appropriate in the culture of the country to which you are travelling.
Try to pack as light as possible. If you take more than is necessary, it will only be you left to carry it around.
Your electronic devices can play a key role in any business trip – especially your mobile phone, which is often your main source of contact/communication.
Be sure to pack all of the devices you require and any accessories (i.e. earphones), chargers and adaptors. While some hotels have chargers that you can borrow (albeit sometimes for a fee), it is better to have your own readily available wherever needed.
A decent carry-on bag/suitcase is highly recommended.
A heavy bag with no wheels or an oversized suitcase can often provide more stress than benefit, particularly when travelling through airports or when heading straight to a meeting/event before being able to check-in to your hotel.
It is also worth investing in a good smaller sized bag which doesn’t need to go in the hold – it not only encourages you to pack light, it can make the whole travel process quicker and avoids you having to wait around in baggage reclaim for your bag once landed. Do your research and read reviews on a range of brands to ensure you get the best bag for you and at the best price.
A final word of warning – be conscious of size restrictions and check for those that apply to you and your flight; airlines are known to change their baggage allowances without letting people know; an unexpected baggage fee is not how you want to start your trip.
Let’s be real, nobody likes to queue. The ability to check -in online can free up extra valuable time at the airport, perfect for making any last minute business calls or to reply to any urgent emails before you take off.
Check-in online, save your boarding pass to your phone and you are ready to go.
Although a business trip is not a vacation, you should always schedule some down time to relax and/or explore. Unless at a specific event, your evenings are yours – after a long day of meetings, go somewhere nice for dinner or enjoy a local show, or where able, why not even extend your trip by a day or two to experience the local culture and delicacies at your own pace.
Ensure you prepare and print any materials or presentations you need for the trip and make notes of what you hope to achieve – it can help improve your focus and align your business objectives.
Prepare for the unexpected, such as travel delays or meeting cancellations, learn as much as you can about the destination should you need to reschedule a meeting or change a hotel.
Remember… ‘failing to plan, is planning to fail’. (Benjamin Franklin).