According to the 2018 Corporate Travel Index by Business Travel News, businesses spend an average of $1,425 to send an employee on a three-day business trip. Business travel is often an essential and expensive part of many jobs, so it would be more prudent to maximize the value of every trip. To help make the most of your business travel, here are 25 of the best business travel tips from the pros.
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1. Develop a Relationship with Your Go-To Hotels
Chris Wain, Sales Director, Africa Travel
If you are constantly visiting the same location, find a hotel you like and make that your go-to accommodation on each trip. This way, over time, you can negotiate the rates of the hotel; if you know you will be staying in this city for at least two weeks throughout the year, that’s two weeks that hotel needn’t worry about their rooms being empty. This gives you grounds to negotiate some sort of special rate in advance of your trip. Many hotels are famous for giving corporate rates and discounts for loyal customers, so it can’t hurt to ask. Furthermore, returning to a hotel you know you will like will seriously help to reduce your stress levels. You know what you’re going to get, and you know you like it.
2. Make Use of Online Flight Booking Tools to Find the Best Ticket Prices
Kenny Colvin, Creative Director, Giant Squid Creative
I run a boutique creative agency that regularly takes me between NYC, Tokyo, Australia, and London. I don’t always have the resources to fly business class, and sometimes it just doesn’t make financial sense to even if we have the money. First, I suggest to always look at Kayak and Google Flights when booking air travel. If you have a specific airline or alliance you prefer, both are great at sorting them. Their algorithms are a bit different, so I suggest always checking both, but when you do, be sure to check multi-city flights. If you want to get coming or going as quick as possible, select a city that you would have a layover in on your round-trip flight. Otherwise, you can pick a city at random and do a same day turnaround, or you can opt to spend a day in a new city.
3. Utilize Your Credit Card Reward Points
Mikey Moran, CEO, Private Label Extensions
Our company is really focused on growth and has to be frugal with all expenses. This is especially important with business travel. I maximize our rewards points earned from AMEX and Capital One credit cards to cover the costs of all our company’s business travel costs. Using Capital One points allows you to book Delta flights and still earn SkyMiles that can be used for future travel. It’s the most powerful travel savings combination possible. As a matter of fact, I am currently in Guangzhao, China, meeting with suppliers, and all my flights and hotels were paid for with rewards points.
4. Find Alternative Accommodations
Alex Membrillo, CEO, Cardinal Digital Marketing
The biggest tip I have to make travel more efficient and affordable is simply to book in Airbnb rather than hotels. When we are going out to a conference and need to bring several people, you are looking at $250 per room per night for three nights (and that equals $2,250 in our case). Rather than paying that huge sum, you can book at an Airbnb near the convention center and pay $250 per night, or $750, saving the cost of two conference tickets!
5. Hire a Travel Agency for Efficiency
Diana Vicheva, Content Marketing Executive, ExpoBeds
This saves both time and money, as all you need to do is let them know how many people are traveling and what type of accommodation is required—if you don’t like their suggestions, you can look elsewhere but if you do, they book your transport or/and hotel for you and everything is done in a matter of minutes. A B2B agency’s buying power and volume of bookings enable them to negotiate discounts that are unobtainable by an individual traveler or even a group. Through their services, small businesses have access to much lower room rates than can be found on a hotel website or a booking platform for leisure travelers. Using the services of a travel agency also saves time and effort that is better spent on preparing for the upcoming meeting / event rather than browsing for budget hotels.
In many cases, the only chance to get properties or flights listed as fully booked is through a travel agency. And finally—agents have valuable information and advice on each destination and are willing to share it with their customers, which can also make the business trip easier.
6. Stay Organized
Dana Humphrey, Lead Publicist and Owner, Whitegate PR
I travel a lot for work, from Florida to Vegas to Ecuador, and I’m usually on a bus, train, boat or airplane! I visit trade shows, I speak at conferences, and I visit clients. The key to success when you are constantly traveling is organization. I have a written day planner where I can see my week at a glance, which helps me prepare my flights and schedule, as well as not overlap or miss any details.
7. Always Bring an Unlocked Smartphone
Andy Abramson, CEO and Founder, Comunicano
For starters, using an unlocked smartphone when traveling internationally will save you money, as you can purchase local SIM cards and use them for local calling, texting, and, of course, for wireless data to connect you to the internet. This is really helpful as you can tether your other phone, tablet or computer via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, effectively sharing the connection and avoiding roaming charges. An unlocked phone with a local SIM card means uploads of photos and videos can happen as you take them versus waiting to get somewhere that Wi-Fi is offered. Speeds are faster than roaming and if you’re taking part in business conference calls, those sound better, without the delay that comes about when you roam.
Most of all, having an unlocked phone still allows you to stay in touch with all your business colleagues, but because the phone number is different, you won’t receive those pesky interruptions from those spam callers from back home.
8. Keep Calm and “Carry On”
Christian Eilers, Career Advice and Travel Writer, Zety
One of the greatest aggravations when flying for work is getting to the airport late; well, when not checking bags, you can usually skip the lines at the counter and head straight to getting probed and prodded at security (after checking in online). Brought your company notebook and worried about it getting tossed about by the luggage handlers? You avoid that anxiety when you handle it yourself for the entire trip. Additionally, you have eyes on your bag for the whole trip, so you can rest (and fly) assured knowing that your bag won’t get misplaced en route.
To be able to avoid checking in your luggage, you’ll have to pack strategically. It might be a business trip, but you are also excited to explore the sights and let your hair down afterwards. Gather your most versatile clothing. Bring shoes that look sharp in the meeting room but can also hold up to a night on the dance floor. A semi-formal, single-color blazer makes a perfect multipurpose fashion piece, functioning as half of your business suit during the day and a nice accompaniment with jeans for the evening.
9. See the Sights When You Can
Bernard Sury, Business Developer, GuruWalk
While abroad for work, you shouldn’t lose the opportunity to get to know the city, its main attractions and hidden gems. A very fun and affordable way to do it is by taking a tour based on tips. In a few hours, you’ll have a good overview of the city and you can give what you want after the tour, according to your budget and experience. Most tours can be booked the day before, for free, which makes it the perfect option if you have a meeting canceled. As said, it’s also a very fun experience, as tour guides are doing their best to get more tips. Ideal for unwinding after a busy day.
10. Manage Your Expenses with Web-Based Tools
Rodolphe Ardant, CEO, Spendesk
One aspect of business travel that we’ve all just learned to live with is managing spending. You pay for food and other expenses, save your receipts—usually in a messy pile—then fill in a painful expense report at some time in the six months after your trip, when you’ve forgotten what all that spending was for. If you used a company card, you have to hope you made no mistakes. If you used your own money, you’re hoping the company reimburses the whole lot.
One way to avoid this dance is to use an expense management tool like Spendesk. You take a quick photo of each receipt, and then the app creates your expense report for you. This saves the traveler time, but also helps your finance team keep track of everything. And no lost receipts!
11. Bring Enough Business Cards When You Travel
Maggie Alland, Editor, Fit Small Business
It’s important to always put your best foot forward when attending meetings, especially overseas. But your business attire isn’t complete without well-made business cards on hand. Leave a memorable first impression by making sure your business cards are professionally printed with Vistaprint. Vistaprint is the business card provider of choice for small businesses with its affordable price and great turnaround time. And if you still haven’t finalized your business cards design, you can easily choose from their over 10,000 templates or get help from one of their professional designers.
12. Use a Business Credit Card
Jacob Lunduski, Financial Industry Analyst, Credit Card Insider
If your business travels frequently, a business travel credit card can make your travels easier and more affordable. A business travel credit card usually earns rewards like travel points, which means the more your organization travels, the more opportunity there is for free or discounted trips. These cards sometimes include perks like lounge access and upgraded seats for your employees, which makes traveling easier. Lastly, using a credit card provides benefits such as purchase protections, extended warranties and travel insurance.
13. Create an Itinerary for Your Travels
Joseph Robison, Director of Marketing, Bucket List Events
Business trips are complex, and a lot can go wrong. The single best thing you can do is create a strict itinerary of meetings, transportation, and other logistics. Follow up with associations and transportation companies you are working with. Make sure that they are set and ready for the predetermined arrangements. It’s a simple and effective tactic. Create a solid itinerary to reduce waste and make the trip hyper-efficient. A set schedule will eliminate unproductive gaps in time and will give the employee a clear vision of what needs to get done. Soft arrangements in the schedule can be disastrous for the ROI of the trip. Cancellations can be used for something else. This is actually very common. Companies will make soft arrangements for business trips and oftentimes these arrangements are canceled. This is why you have to schedule well and follow up on all plans and arrangements.
14. Bring Your Own Power Supply
Chris Reimer, Chief Power Officer, Boosa Tech
Never forget to pack multiple power banks/portable phone chargers when traveling for business. Low battery anxiety is real—there’s even a name for it: Nomophobia (Google it!). Please note: low battery anxiety is exacerbated when traveling. There is no reason to land at your destination on 10 percent phone power. As a businessperson, I cannot afford to lose my connection to my customers, social media, email, the outside world. Even a small power bank solves the problem and eliminates unnecessary stress.
15. Travel Light by Renting Business Attire from Professionals
Ambika Singh, CEO, Armoire
Trying to figure out what to wear on a business trip can be a real struggle. The modern, professional woman needs a wardrobe and a service to keep up with her busy lifestyle. Take the stress out of packing and consider a continuously changing wardrobe, without the guilt of buying new clothes, growing tired of them, or going through the hassle and cost of dry cleaning. Businesses like Armoire offers a data-driven and curated closet for women based on style and fit preferences. This includes unlimited exchanges so you always have something new to wear for every occasion. Forget about the days of “What should I wear?” and focus on what really matters.
16. Stock Your Hotel Fridge
Marcey Rader, Certified Productivity and Health Coach, MarceyRader.com
The number one mistake business travelers make is eating like they are on vacation. This type of lifestyle is unhealthy and expensive, especially if you eat out for every meal; however, convenient food service can seem like the easiest solution after a long day. To make your travel easier for you and your wallet, stock the hotel fridge with nutritious items that you can consume throughout your trip. Hard-boiled eggs make a great breakfast or snack option with protein to keep you full. A rotisserie chicken is another great option that allows you to reheat different size portions easily, storing the rest in the fridge for another meal. Also, try buying a veggie platter—they aren’t just for parties!—which will maximize your wallet by providing multiple days’ worth of nutritious snacks in one bulk purchase.
17. Invest in Travel Insurance
Justin Tysdal, CEO and Travel Expert, Seven Corners
If you travel frequently for business outside your home country, an annual travel insurance policy is a great way to ensure you have coverage when you need it, even at a moment’s notice. This type of plan gives employers peace of mind, knowing their employees have high levels of medical protection, an emergency medical evacuation benefit, and coverage for lost luggage and baggage delay. As the global business world continues to expand, it’s important for business travelers to know their domestic health insurance may not follow them when they travel abroad. And, if they are traveling to an area without appropriate medical care, emergency medical evacuation coverage is key in making sure they can be moved, if needed, to a location that has proper medical care.
An annual travel insurance plan is especially helpful for employees who travel back and forth to nearby countries, such as U.S. residents who travel to Canada and Mexico. In addition, an annual plan saves you time—you complete one application and pay once a year for coverage. It is also typically more economical for those who travel frequently.
18. Avoid the High Premiums Attached to Last-Minute Airfare
Christal Bemont, SVP and GM Global Small and Midsize Business Unit, SAP Concur
Meeting and schedule changes at the final hour make last-minute travel sometimes inevitable. Booking last-minute flights usually leads to sky-high airfares, but there are ways to keep premiums at a minimal. Recent SAP Concur data revealed it’s best to book flights at least eight days or more in advance—tickets booked fewer than seven days prior to departure can be on average 44 percent more expensive than the same ticket booked 15 days in advance. You can save $148 per ticket by booking at least eight days out.
19. Know When to Book and Fly
Grainne Kelly, Founder, BubbleBum
The best time to buy domestic airfare is on Tuesdays around lunchtime. The airline sales typically only last three days or less and tend to publish on Tuesdays. Also, the best days to travel are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. You’ll almost always pay less if you accept a connecting flight. Travel on the off-season, as you can get better deals for flights and hotels. Excursions and local sites also offer cheaper prices. Another perk is that you don’t have to fight as many tourists and can experience a private beach or more entertainment options.
20. Connect with Local Companies Before You Travel
Gabor Koncz, Founder, Automizy
If it’s a long business trip, you may have plenty of time to connect with local companies. It is, therefore, a good idea to start contacting them via social media and email a good few weeks or months beforehand so you have pre-scheduled meetings when you land. Also, pack wisely and include a power bank that can recharge your phone. It is also advisable to land a few days before your meetings/events so that you have the time to relax and get rid of the jet lag. Lastly, make sure to do some sightseeing; sometimes inspiration comes from quite unlikely places.
21. Have a Plan for Your Regular Workload
Jon Brodsky, Country Manager, Finder.com
Work trip schedules run pretty tight and you may not have much time to get your regular requests done without sacrificing sleep. In addition to being as well-rested as possible before you go, get as up to date with your workload as possible to give yourself a buffer. It would also be worthwhile to see if there are any colleagues who can help pick up some slack while you’re out of the office, making sure they are aware of what might come up, and where they can find what they need.
22. Be Sensitive to Your Destination’s Culture
Shyam Krishna Iyer, Founder, SKI Charities
A common mistake many people make is to ignore or shy away from the importance of social customs overseas. Be open to accept hospitality and engage with respect and patience and understanding of the challenges inherent to life in their country. Try the local food, seek out conversations with varying members of the community, and take the time to sit and listen. This type of focus on business trips has helped me learn about the culture and people with whom I would eventually manage an international charity empowering hundreds of women.
23. Rest During Your Downtime
Maura Thomas, TEDx Speaker, Trainer and Author, MauraThomas.com
As a productivity trainer, I travel quite frequently. Sometimes, there can be quite a bit of downtime. It could be long delays between flights, or canceled flights requiring you to rebook on a later flight. This often causes travelers a great deal of stress. But don’t fear downtime. If your flight gets delayed, you might default to checking your email or doing other work. But it may actually be more productive to use this unexpected time to meditate or just let your mind wander. This kind of mental break really boosts your productivity and creativity.
Some of the important tips for business travel pertain to how to be efficient when you need to bring things along. This usually is the case when you’re traveling to participate in trade shows and expos. Preparation is the key to minimizing the stress of having to travel with big presentations and marketing materials. Skyline’s article brings you a checklist of things to do before you leave for the trade show.
Once you know your travel dates, look for networking opportunities at your destination. Check events around the area and find a way to squeeze one into your schedule, if possible. You might want to consider extending another day if it also results in a lower airplane fare while acquiring new leads. Always be ready by having extra business cards on hand. If you don’t know where to start checking, Skyline listed tips on how to find business networking events in every destination
Over to You
In this global economy, traveling has become an essential part of any business, which is why these tips for business travel can help make a significant impact in your company’s bottom line. Maximize your investment and let traveling become an enjoyable experience.
Did we miss out on your favorite business travel tips? Share them with us in the comments!