How to Ace Business Travel like a Pro
Whether you’re a solopreneur, work for a major corporation, or fall somewhere in between, there is always a good possibility that you’ll travel for business purposes. Although a lot of business is conducted virtually and online in our modern society, face-to-face meetings are often invaluable for developing and maintaining solid business relationships.
Business travel slowed in the U.S. during 2015 due to a variety of economic uncertainties. However, the percentage of people traveling, at least for domestic business travel in the U.S., has picked up somewhat in 2016 so far.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), which is the world’s premier business travel and meetings organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. area with operations on six continents, has been keeping tabs on multiple statistics which impact the rates of business travel. Most notable is the lower cost of airfare due to the plunge in oil prices earlier this year. As a result, the GBTA anticipates the overall increase in travel spend for 2016 to be around 3.7% in the U.S. They have forecasted an even more significant increase in global business travel spend over 2015.
The time and current economic situation are conducive for business travel. Get ready to pack up your laptop and/or tablet, appropriate business attire, and smartphones and travel like a pro.
Here are suggestions to make business travel less stressful and more efficient
There’s little doubt that business travel can feel overwhelming, especially when you are a new or infrequent traveler. Planning ahead will help you feel more prepared and less stressed.
In her article for U.S. News, Sienna Kossman shares a variety of useful tips for efficient and stress-free business travel. Her post provides a helpful, basic resource that you may find helpful as well. Consider these tips as you start planning your own trip.
Here are a few of Kossman’s pro tips for business travel:
- If you’re planning to be on the go regularly or need to be able to leave at a moment’s notice, make sure to keep essentials packed at all times. This includes toiletries and charging cables, for example.
- Remember to pack leisure clothing items. You probably won’t be in meetings for your entire trip so make sure you have comfortable clothes and shoes for sightseeing, going out on the town, etc.
- Avoid checking bags. You’ll save time and money when you pack what you need in a carry-on.
- Sign up for frequent traveler programs. These types of services will save you a lot of time and hassle since they allow pre-approved travelers to bypass traditional security checks.
- Make sure you have all the documents you need for travel (i.e., driver’s license, tickets, passport, etc.) and that you’re able to quickly access them. This will help further reduce the time you spend waiting in line at the airport.
As I mentioned above, all business travel involves planning ahead as much as possible. It can make all the difference between having an experience that is enjoyable or downright regrettable. There are two primary aspects of business travel which especially require diligent planning: packing and securing accommodations.
Here are recommendations for packing properly and finding affordable accommodations like a pro:
What to pack for business travel
Decide what absolutely needs to be packed, what can be left behind, and what can be bought when you arrive at your destination. Packing for a business trip is much different than for a family vacation. For business travel, efficiency is key.
TripCase, an itinerary management travel app, shares an excellent business trip packing checklist on their blog titled, “Packing List For A Stress-Free Business Trip.” As the author of this post points out,
Preparedness and planning are you(r) best weapons. With a well thought out, but simple plan of attack, it’s easy to avoid a large number of the plights and pitfalls that many travelers fall victim to.
The author recommends coming up with a handful of categories as a way of organizing your business travel packing:
- What is the dress code?
- Will you need a versatile wardrobe?
- How long are you going to be there?
- What is the weather going to be like at your destination?
- Have an extra outfit for each function at the ready, just in case.
- Printed handouts
- Business cards
- Pens and a notebook
- Laptop, mouse, and charger (or tablet(s) and charger)
Electronics and entertainment
- Power adaptors
- Books for fun reading
- Phone accessories
Choosing a place to stay
In some cases, the company you work for chooses where you’ll stay when you’re traveling for them. However, when you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, for example, you are most likely responsible for your own accommodations. Ideally, you want to find a safe, comfortable place to relax at the end of the day without spending a small fortune.
For short stays, you can go online and easily find discounted corporate rates for business travelers, either using travel sites or through specific hotels’ websites.
Kristina Portillo, the founder of the Business Travel Life website, shares useful tips for accessing corporate hotel rates as a small business owner on her blog post, “How to Get Corporate Hotel Rates.”
Portillo’s tips include the following:
- Do not make your reservation using the 800 number
- Request a corporate rate if you are doing business with a local company
- Ask for an unofficial corporate rate
- Do not approach a busy check-in desk
- Ask for a non-refundable rate
Some business trips require you to stay for an extended period of time. Fortunately, there are many affordable and comfortable extended stay options to choose from. Whether you’re seeking a simple place to stay with a small kitchen and real “dishes,” or a furnished home or apartment – or something in between – there are many different types of accommodations available.
Here are a few ideas for extended stay business travelers:
Although planning for business travel requires a good amount of time and patience, it will be completely worthwhile when you successfully arrive at your destination. You’ll have time to focus on your business needs and be more productive with your work, rather than worrying about lost luggage, unsatisfactory accommodations or botched reservations.
What are other tips do you have for efficient and stress-free business travel? I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions – please feel free to leave a comment below.