Most SME business owners and managers have to travel at some point. Whether it's to present at a conference; to meet potential clients; to look at investment opportunities or to take part in an industry event, every trip needs careful planning to make sure it runs smoothly.
There's nothing worse than being stuck at the airport without the right information, or trying to hire a car without your booking reference number. As a busy person, you don't really want to be sorting all the details out yourself, so how do you ensure that each trip is as pain-free as possible? Here are our 6 top tips.
1. Make sure you have a clear itinerary
It's a good idea to produce a clear itinerary before you set off, so that you can refer to it at any time to see where you should be, what times to expect meetings, dinners or presentations, the names of any hosts and contacts, and the full details of all your travel and hotel bookings. You might also need contact details for taxis, information on public transport, car booking reference details and information on medical support.
A good business travel itinerary might include:
2. Get help to keep your costs down
- Times to check in and out of hotels
- Likely weather
- Travel connections
- Daily business meeting planning
- Best times of day to travel
- Names and contact details of key people and organisations
Rather than spending hours online trying to book everything yourself, it's worth talking to a travel agent or a specialist business and travel planning provider. Not only can you then get on with running your business whilst they do all the planning for you, but they can also often find better deals and understand how to schedule trips that meet your needs. So, if you absolutely have to be back on Thursday evening for that school concert, they can help. Here are a few quick tips on getting the most out of your travel service:
3. Keep everything in one place
- Don't accept the standard options you're offered. Travel agents often have upgrades available, so don't be afraid to ask.
- Double check the itinerary to make sure there is enough time between connecting trains or flights, and ask about hotels or in-airport facilities for longer stop-overs.
- Find out if there is an expected dress code for the area, or any laws or customs that need to be taken into consideration.
- Ask them to check the carry-on baggage allowance for the airline you are travelling with - restrictions differ, so if you don't want to check anything in, it's worth knowing what the rules are in advance.
Having a folder that holds all your travel documents is a quick and easy way to make sure everything's in one place and easily accessible. You may well use an app to check in before you get to the airport, and use a smart boarding pass so that you don't need paper, but you will still need to carry your passport, itinerary and other travel documents. Having them in one place makes your life much easier. You might also want to include a packing list, so that you take everything you need with you and leave nothing behind when you come home. 4. Make sure your agent keeps back-up copies of your travel plans
When things don't work out on your business trip, it's usually no fault of your own. Weather can delay flights; a mix-up at the car rental office can leave you without the vehicle you wanted; hotels can be full or rooms not to your liking. Whilst you can sort some of these issues out there and then, you might need the help of your business travel manager to get on the phone and organise alternatives. Quite often, they can be doing this whilst you're in the meeting or conference, so you can get your work done and they can sort things out for you. If you know they have all your details to hand whilst you're away, you can be confident that any hiccups can be overcome quickly and easily.5. Think about the details
If someone else is arranging your travel, it really helps for them to know a bit more about your likes and dislikes. When you're booking your own trips, you already know what type of hotel room you prefer. You know about your dietary requirements. You know whether you prefer a manual or automatic car. Getting these details right can make all the difference to your business trip - you can just focus on the work, because you know everything else is taken care of. So, if you choose to outsource to someone like a business travel virtual for example, sharing these little details will really help.6. Factor in some recovery time
It's easy for busy people to race from one thing to another - even from one trip to another. But in order to look after your physical and mental welfare, it's really important to factor in some recovery time. Try to make sure, particularly if you've been on a long, or far-flung business trip, that you have planned some time off, or can at least work from home to give yourself a bit of down-time. If you are having to travel at weekends, think about taking some time off in lieu, which might help with the jet lag when you get back. And don't rush back into days of meetings - try to organise your diary so that there is time for you to ease back into regular office life. Article kindly provided by one-resource.com