It’s commonly accepted that face-to-face communication is one of the most effective ways to do business. Whether you’re pitching a concept, providing a service, selling a widget or managing people, doing it in person raises your probability of success. That’s the basic tenet behind business travel. But doing business on the road has its own hurdles. You need to carry a mobile office with you, function in unfamiliar settings and adjust to different time zones and cultures. To meet those challenges and be prepared to focus on the real business at hand, use these pro tips for efficient business travel.
Pack Like a Pro
For many of us, packing for a trip takes an inordinate amount of time. The number one way to make packing easier is to keep the basics packed and ready to go. Stash a duplicate set of travel toiletries in your bag so you don’t have to gather them every time you take a trip. Keep business cards, pens, a notebook and extra charging cords in your bag, too, so all you have to do is add appropriate clothes.
Efficient business travelers carry-on their bag whenever possible to save time waiting at baggage claim or heaven forbid, tracking down lost luggage. That means you need to pack sparingly. Stick with a color scheme of two or three solid neutrals that can mix and match, and accessorize with colorful scarves or ties. Limit shoes to three pair (dress, casual, athletic) and wear one of them. There’s no perfect way to pack – rolling, folding, space bags, packing cubes; it’s personal, just keep it light. Travel Maestro tip: Men, keep a shirt collar stiff by coiling a belt inside the neck. Ladies, drop thin necklace chains through a drinking straw and fasten earring posts through the holes in buttons to keep jewelry untangled.
Be ready for airport security by wearing slip-on shoes, have your 3-1-1 liquid items and laptops easily accessible and drop keys, wallet and pocket change into your bag before you reach security. Travel Maestro tip: Take a screenshot of your electronic boarding pass on your mobile device to save time reloading or in case Wi-Fi isn’t accessible.
Use Frequent Flyer Services
If you travel even twice a year, join and use frequent flyer services and programs for a more efficient business travel experience. TSA Precheck is definitely the business traveler’s ace up the sleeve for fast track airport security. Participants do not have to remove shoes, belts or light jackets and can keep laptops and carry-on liquids stowed in their bags. Travel Maestro tip: Participation in the program does not guarantee expedited security, but it is a significant time saver when you are randomly selected by TSA.
Join airline frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. The perks can make business travel considerably more pleasant. Airlines offer low-cost upgrades and priority seating; hotels often include free breakfast or club level access to frequent travelers. Travel Maestro tip: Don’t hesitate to request a room upgrade or a great view at check in. Hotels are often happy to reward frequent guests.
Use Your Apps
In today’s digital world, electronic devices are not only a necessary part of your mobile office, but are critical for efficient business travel. There are dozens, even hundreds of travel-related apps to help you find your way, communicate and network when away from home. Everyone has favorites; here are some we recommend:
- TripIt – Organize all. your travel plans in one place with daily itineraries, flight alerts, seat and reward points tracking and sharing.
- Waze – Get there on time when driving in an unfamiliar city with this community-based traffic and navigation app.
- TripLingo – Talk like a local and stay safe abroad with an interactive phrasebook, flashcards, audio lessons, voice translator and even a live translator.
- XE Currency – Convert currency on the go with live exchange rates and historical charts plus stored rates that work offline.
- Open Table – Make reservations at over 32,000 restaurants worldwide. Search by location, restaurant or cuisine and view menus, photos and reviews to aid your decision making.
Keep a Healthy Routine
Just because you’re away from home doesn’t mean you should abandon your normal healthy routines. In order to stay sharp and put your best foot forward to the associates you’re visiting, try to regulate your sleep, make an effort to eat healthy and exercise like you do at home.
If you’re crossing multiple time zones, fight jet lag by setting your watch to the time of your destination when you take off then begin eating and sleeping on that schedule. Travel Maestro tip: When traveling west, stay up until your normal bedtime the evening of arrival to avoid waking for the day in the wee hours and fighting exhaustion during the full day ahead.
Whether you’re snacking in the airport or wining and dining clients, make healthy choices, don’t overeat and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Similarly, keep up your normal fitness routines to relieve stress and loosen up muscles stiff from travel and sitting in meetings. Travel Maestro tip: Make use of the hotel’s pool or fitness center, pack exercise bands to use in your room or take a brisk walk around your host city.
Use Time Wisely
The act of travel itself can steal hours of productivity, so for efficient business travel, take them back. Use time on the plane to review sales figures, write an article, or calculate projections. Travel Maestro tip: Download key documents in advance so you can work offline.
Make the most of your visit to a city by arranging to see additional clients or prospects on the same trip. If it’s a large city, reduce intercity travel cost and time by renting a meeting room at your hotel and invite clients come to you during “office hours.” Travel Maestro tip: For less formal networking, consider hosting a meet up with local social media contacts in your industry.
Another trend in making business travel more efficient is to make it a “Bleisure” trip, by combining business and leisure. Arrange business appointments on Friday and/or Monday and enjoy exploring the city’s sights over the weekend. Invite a spouse or companion to join you for the mini getaway. The company gets the benefit of a lower airfare with a weekend stay or for independent business travelers, business appointments make the trip tax deductible. It’s a win/win!
Use your Travel agent
The last tip for efficient business travel is actually the first one you should enact: Use your travel agent. Covington Travel will arrange all your travel reservations at the best prices available, leaving you that time to manage your own business. We alert you to any changes that impact your itinerary and provide alternatives reducing your travel stress. We satisfy duty of care to give you peace of mind. You deserve a pleasant and efficient business travel experience. From planning to execution, see just how good it feels to upgrade with Covington.