Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How to Make Business Travel Less Turbulent

Despite much of today’s marketplace being well-suited for virtual management, in-person meetings and off site events continue to be a component of maintaining and growing your business. Out of town team gatherings as well as conferences or conventions are an opportunity for both personnel and brand strengthening. Before you check your bags, here are some items to check off the “travel to-do” list plus ideas for making your business travel less turbulent. 


Plan ahead. Research hotels in your destination city before committing to a stay for your business. Utilize online reviews to get a grasp on their reliability and learn past experiences of other guests who have stayed. Plus, plans can change. It’s always wise to understand a hotel or resort’s policies regarding length-of-stay -- make sure to ask questions on topics like cancellation and penalty fees before you book. Using a travel agent? Agencies can be helpful for package deals and learning about hidden gems but it’s crucial to do your due diligence before hiring an agency to avoid scams and misleading fine print. 

Ask away. Your lodging is in the business of hospitality, afterall. When you book your reservation, make requests that might make your stay more enjoyable. Traveling for work -- especially if across different time zones or jam-packed with obligations -- can be exhausting. Inquire about early and/or late check-in and if your routine includes regular exercise, ask for details on the gym. Does your room have a kitchenette? That’s a score, if so. On a recent trip, mine did and I brought along the ingredients to make my daily smoothie. It allowed me to maintain my morning routine despite not being in my own kitchen. 

It’s all in the details (make sure you know them). Are there multiple team members in the mix? Confirm who will be attending which session/dinner/client meeting, etc ahead of time. It also can’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the layout of the event space and/or area you’ll be staying in. If traveling alone, you could reach out to clients or colleagues in the area for tips and suggestions for staying there. Oh, and cell phone numbers -- you’d be surprised how many employees don’t communicate outside of work. Get co-workers' digits before you hit the road so you can keep in touch if edits and or issues arise.

Pack it up, pack it in. Do you literally sit on your suitcase before dragging it down two flights of stairs? Are you pulling things out of your bag at airport check-in because it’s overweight? Avoid the hassle and pack smart. Try not to (I admittedly find it hard to resist) bring too many options. It’s helpful to bring an extra outfit or two in case plans change but bringing three dresses or shirt/tie combos to choose between for that client dinner will only add to frustration courtesy of extra decision making. The time you spend deciding on what to wear subtracts time from something else you could be doing (i.e. networking, sightseeing or taking a nap). Try on and coordinate clothes before you include them in your “necessities” for the trip. With versatility in mind, take into consideration your color palette. Neutrals are your best travel friend! For example, bringing mostly black pieces of your wardrobe could allow you to get away with one pair of business-ready shoes and leaves room for a more casual or cocktail appropriate pair. Think about wearing the heaviest pair of shoes on the plane to save pounds on the luggage scale.

Communicate. Regardless of the role you play for your business, you’re important. An out-of-office signature on your email is the best way to spread the word with external contacts and a direct email and/or in-person conversation is probably best for communicating travel plans with your colleagues.


Organize from the start. Allow yourself time at the train station/airport to get organized. Separate out items you’d like to work on while in transit. This will alleviate the need to repeatedly access the overhead bin. 

Sounds good. You fully-charged your devices before you left home so you can use them during travel, right? Don’t forget your headphones so you can work without the background noise and/or listen to music to politely drown out that Chatty Cathy sitting behind you. Looking to catch-up on sleep? I never (ever) leave home without ear plugs.

More than you paid for. Upon check-in at your destination, why not ask if there are any free upgrades available? All they can say is “no” and if you belong to their rewards program, you’re considered a preferred customer. IF you don’t already belong to their program, ask to join with the caveat that you’d like a perk during your stay. A suite sounds nice. Or maybe it’s a noontime check out in advance of a late departing flight. 

Sleep soundly. You are where you are for a reason. You won’t be the same or nearly as productive without good sleep. What works when you’re at home? I sleep with a sound machine. When I travel, I use a free smartphone app that replicates it. It kind of feels like home and helps filter out other hotel noises in the night (also, see ear plugs above).


Pay it forward. Once back in the office, submit an online review for each of the businesses you interacted with. The hotel, convention center and restaurants you enjoyed during your trip will appreciate the feedback on their performance. These reviews allow other travelers to learn from your experience in preparation for their own. You benefited from someone’s feedback and they’ll benefit from yours. In addition, it gives the business you review a leg up on their competition and a stronger presence online. Via InsightSquared:

88% of consumers are influenced by online customer service reviews when making buying decisions and 58% are more likely to tell others about their customer service experiences than they were 5 years ago.

Reach out. Solidify connections you made via timely follow-up. Suggest that you find one another on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. Remember, networking doesn’t end with an in-person meeting. Provide new contacts pertinent info from conversations you engaged in or topics you enjoyed at a joint-attended event. Keep the lines of communication open after the trip to avoid being out of sight and out of mind. 

Did you know that 7 out of 10 consumers prefer to do business with an Accredited Business? Learn how to become part of a community of trustworthy businesses. If your business is already Accredited, find out how you can update your business online for free with Google and BBB and make it easier for people to find you online. For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org/boston, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn

Written by Stephanie Benz, Senior Social Media Associate for Better Business Bureau Serving E. Massachusetts, ME, RI & VT.

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