In an increasingly globalized world, business traveling is becoming more common. In 2017, this is true even for SMEs, who may need to hold meetings with international partners who can offer them the best deal on much-needed services.
Travel for business can be challenging at first, but today we’re going to share some expert business travel tips. This won’t be about how to pack your bags – you can watch Up In The Air for that.
This is all about making smart, strategic choices to optimize the experience and save you money. So, here are 5 tips to bring the most out of your business trip.
1. Join A Loyalty Programme
This is the first thing any seasoned business traveler will tell you, it’s the first thing we’re going to talk about.
Signing up to a reward scheme can come in one of many forms. Frequent flyer miles are points you’ll start to accrue as you go through your business travel, and different airlines have different systems. You’ll want to pick an airline that best serves your needs and stick with it.
Some also get branded hotel chain credit cards to save on accommodation instead of travel. Airline credit cards require you to get 50,000 miles a year in to really reap the rewards, so if you’re starting out, you may want to get a credit card where you earn reward points on every purchase instead.
Take note, spread-betting doesn’t work. It just disperses your loyalty points so you don’t see rewards from anyone. Pick one or two brands and stick with them – you’ll be rewarded.
2. Plan A Business (And Pleasure) Itinerary
Organisation opens up what you’re able to do and maximizes the efficiency of your time. But no business trip should be strictly business. By creating an itinerary, you can optimize and make time for something fun and rewarding, too.
You can use an app like TripIt to organize all your travel, transfer and accommodation information into a streamlined, timeline checklist, ensuring you have all the information you need immediately to hand. No more digging out scribbled down confirmation numbers.
Google Trips is a free application that helps you coordinate your travel details, but also creates half-day or full day itineraries using suggested places to visit for food and drink, culture and sightseeing. Add your meetings to your Google Calendar and populate them into the Trips app, and you may be able to do some sightseeing on your way from the meeting to your hotel.
3. Allow More Time Than You Need
This is the biggest mistake new travelers make. Delays are everywhere in travel, from traffic jams in a taxi to crowded runways in the plane to adverse weather on the train, and that’s without thinking about overbooking.
If you have no flexibility around travel, the consequences for your business and reputation can be grave. By budgeting more time for everything, you lower the pressure on yourself so you can perform at your best.
As such, if your ticket says arrive an hour before departure, try scheduling to arrive 90 minutes before instead. These little cushions of time will help everything run smoothly.
Similarly, allotting some time in your business schedule for leisure activities can even help you network and build qualitative relationships with clients, or simply enjoy your time in a new place.
4. Bring A Tennis Ball (Seriously)
Brian Povinelli, an international hotel brand leader, suggested taking a tennis ball on flights. We loved it. Use the tennis ball to roll under your feet, squeeze it in the crook of your knee, or put it under your thigh.
It works as a kind of tiny foam roller you see at the gym, which helps to stretch muscles and break down the build-up of lactic acid. It will help you keep your limbs from stiffening up and getting sore in plane seats.
Besides, our onboard travel kit also includes: noise canceling headphones, a tablet with USB power pack and pre-downloaded Netflix episodes, a travel pillow, and a sweater for warmth (wear it, don’t store it in your carry on to save the space!).
5. Being Nice
I’ve saved the best for last here. Frequent travelers will all tell you that being nice to people will get you further, especially when it comes to free upgrades. Most people don’t even think to ask, so you’ll already be ahead of the game.
Check in, be friendly, identify what you could improve about your room. Wait until the front desk at the hotel isn’t busy, and strike up a conversation. Tell them your room is by the road or near the elevator or has a stiff mattress and you’re a light sleeper. Keep it friendly and light. A useful script goes something like “I know the hotel isn’t full tonight, is there any chance you could upgrade me?”
The same goes for the airport check in. Make a good impression, and drop in “I hope you’ll consider if any upgrades become available.” If flights are oversold in economy, the staff will remember you.
Remember, don’t expect to get things just because you ask for them. You’ll increase your chances, but nothing is guaranteed. Turning on staff members if they can’t accommodate you is a way to get your name on the upgrades blacklist.