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Travel is an essential part of doing business, whether you are attending conferences, conventions or meetings interstate or overseas. Planning the journey well is essential to making sure you have a successful and productive trip and avoid potential issues such as missed flights, being late for important issues, and even losing clients! Good planning will also help to reduce stress and tiredness on the road, allowing you to focus on the work at hand.
Knowing how to arrange business travel well is also important if you are an assistant or administrator – you may occasionally or regularly organise travel for executives or other team members, and it is critical that you are on top of all aspects and do not miss anything! So whether you are organising a business trip for yourself or for someone else, check our step-by-step guide below for the best tips and tricks for planning the perfect business trip!
- Book flights
Websites like Skyscanner (https://www.skyscanner.net/) and Kayak (https://www.kayak.com/) are a great place to start when looking for flights. These sites will not only help you find deals on flights, but they give you an overview of airlines, routes, layover times and so on between your origin and destination.
Be sure to plan your trip with flexibility in case things need to change – purchase flexible fares and wherever possible arrive at your destination with at least a few hours to spare, or even the day before.
- Check your passport
If travelling internationally as part of your business trip, make sure to check your passport validity well in advance of the trip, as getting a new passport can take several weeks. Don’t just check your passport will be valid at the time of the trip – most destinations require you to have at least 6 months validity from the date of travel.
Make sure to also check whether you will require a visa to enter your country of destination and arrange this accordingly.
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- Find the best accommodation
Consider the factors which will be the most important to you on the trip before deciding where you want to stay. Factors which you may look for in a hotel could be proximity to meeting locations and/or transport, distance from the airport, and availability of restaurants nearby. Depending on the nature and length of your trip, the ability to work in the room could also be important, so you would need to make sure there is Wi-Fi available in the room and it will be a quiet environment.
Search for different types of hotels and filter for these factors on Expedia (https://www.expedia.com) or booking.com (https://www.booking.com).
- Research your destination thoroughly
To make sure your trip goes smoothly, research your destination in and out. Make sure you know logistic specifics – how to get between your hotel, meeting locations and the airport. If you plan to hire a car, check and download maps and look into toll ways and other information you’ll need to drive yourself around. Look into restaurants and dining options close to your hotel, as well as locations of meetings or conventions you will be attending.
- Pack appropriately but also for the unexpected
Check the expected weather for your destination for the relevant time of year, and make sure you pack accordingly. But also be prepared for unexpected changes: for example make sure to pack an umbrella even if rain is unlikely. It is much better to be prepared for all eventualities!
Some essential items that you should pack for every business trip are:
- Two suits (including the one you wear on the plane)
- Enough shirts or tops for each day you will be away, plus one spare
- One neat casual outfit for longer business trips or if social events will be involved
- Two pairs dress shoes
- Spare neckties (for men) – one for each day is best, and they are easily packable
- A professional-looking umbrella
- A small sewing kit
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Book airport transfers
One of the most important parts of your business trip is getting to and from the airport (or train station or other transport hub). Failing to arrange a reliable transfer could mean last minute panic to get to the airport, arriving late to an important meeting, or even missing your flight!
It is important to book your airport transfer far in advance – waiting to the last minute to arrange this could result in transport being booked out, which would be a disaster. Likewise, it is unwise to simply turn up to your destination and try to find transport on the spot to get to your accommodation or meeting. Especially when travelling for business, this can be very risky – you risk missing appointments or paying extortionate costs for your transfer.
- Compile your documents
Make sure you have copies of travel documents, hotel bookings, briefings for meetings etc printed out as well as scanned on your devices. It is handy to have all the information on your smart phone or laptop, but having a hard copy is important too – you never know when your battery may die!
It is a good idea to put all these documents together in a single folder so that you all the information you need at your fingertips in case you need it!
- Set up International Roaming
If you are travelling overseas on your business trip, make sure you will be able to stay connect to the office through your phone. Before you go, check with your phone company what international roaming options are available and make sure to include data roaming so that you will be able to send and receive emails. Be careful to track your data roaming usage while you are overseas so that you are not hit with a giant phone bill afterwards, and limit usage by connecting to wifi in hotels, cafes and conference venues.
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- Confirm travel arrangements
Just before you go, reconfirm travel arrangements with your assistant or agent and double check meeting times. Make sure all meetings have been confirmed and the venues have not changed. Also keep in mind that airlines can delay or even cancel flights, so check the status of your flight online The day of your trip (or the night before).
- Check in online
To get you on your way quicker and more efficiently, check in online before your flight. Most flights will allow online check in up to 24 hours in advance. While checking in online you can also select seats, meal options and often even purchase in-flight entertainment. Doing this in advance will make the flight go much smoother!
- Consider the different types of transfers
Undoubtedly the most reliable way to get to or from the airport, train station or wherever you need to go is to hire a black car service. These services are professional, reliable and will make sure that you are picked up or dropped off on time. It is best to use a company which has a concierge service when picking you up from the airport, which means the driver will perform a full meet and greet at the airport terminal.
- Administration on the road
Keep track of expenses by keeping all notes and receipts in a single envelope which you carry in your briefcase or purse. Make notes from meetings or events, such as new contacts or items to follow up, directly on your phone and either add straight to your calendar or send in brief emails to your assistant. Actioning these as you go will mean you don’t forget important items later, and also reduces your workload when you return from the trip.
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- Self-care while on the road
Travelling for business can take its toll – red-eye flights, long transfers and simply being outside your familiar environment can be exhausting. For this reason it is important to make sure you get enough sleep so you are fresh and energised for all of your engagements. Many business trips involve networking events, which is part of business, but make sure you leave these events with plenty of time to get a solid 8 hours sleep!
- Take care of post-trip administration
Once you’re back in the office, it’s easy to get caught up in the swing of things and be buried in work catching up on the days you were away. However, be sure to complete all the necessary administration from your trip, such as handing in all receipts associated with your trip and lodging any expense claims. Other things to take care of once you are back from you trip may include debriefing with your colleagues or supervisor, and following up any contacts you met while on the trip.