First-time business travellers can feel overwhelmed. Between acting as an ambassador of their company and being expected to work on the move, business travel can be stressful, particularly for the uninitiated. Thankfully there is a wide range of resources that can help make first-time business travel as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible.
Well-seasoned business traveller Betrand Saillet, general manager for Corporate Traveller Southeast Asia, shares his top five tips for first time business travellers below:
1. Packing for success
An average business trip is for three to four days. This means that there is no need for check-in baggage that more often than not, causes delays and complications. Your best bet is a compact carry-on that will help you breeze through customs while protecting your devices and clothing essentials. There is also an added practicality if you have to step off the plane and get straight into a business meeting.
It helps to create a list of essential items (i.e. business cards, laptop, etc) that you will need for every trip and customise it according to your destination and travel duration. This will give you a clear view of every single item and helps to minimise duplicates.
2. Staying on track
Travellers often find it hard to keep to their usual routines while overseas. This is usually due to a lack of accessibility and time to seek out familiar options. For example, the lack of a gym may lead a traveller to abandon his/her usual fitness routine while jet lag may cause a disruption in mealtimes and sleep hours. However, there are many benefits of making time for your usual routines - exercise will help you feel more energised and overcome jet lag quicker, while getting enough rest will no doubt enhance your overall productivity.
Prior to your trip, run through your agenda and allocate specific time slots for exercise, meal times and rest. If access to a gym is going to be an issue, search for workout routines that you can do in your hotel room or go for a run in a nearby park. It may take a little bit of planning and creativity, but this means that you will feel more refreshed on your trip and will also find it easier to get back into the swing of things once you are home.
3. Power up with technology
Mobile devices are your best companion for business trips - not only are they handy for getting work done on-the-go, business travellers can also tap on various mobile applications to make their trips more organised and seamless. Check with your travel partner whether they have a mobile application where you can view and manage your bookings and itinerary in real time. This will bring you a world of convenience with everything right at your fingertips.
4. Cultural know-how
Many organisations and first-time business travellers fail to take into account the cultural differences and common business practices prevalent at their destinations. This could potentially have a huge impact on business outcomes and productivity. Thus, it would be wise for travellers to equip themselves with the understanding how clients/suppliers/vendors do business and their common practices or customs. This preparedness will go a long way in ensuring that you are not misunderstood due to a lack of cultural awareness.
5. Knowledge is key
Prior to your first business trip, it is essential to arm yourself with the knowledge of your organisation's travel policies and have a good understanding of the type of insurance and medical coverage provided. This is important for ensuring that you do not expose yourself and your organisation to any potential risks.
Travel policies will also tell you the dos and don'ts if you wish to make changes to your itinerary. Today, more travellers are blending work and play, and it is common for travellers to bring a spouse along on a business trip or extend their business trip for leisure purposes. These circumstances call for a good knowledge of your organisation's travel policies in order to ensure a seamless booking process and transition from work to play.
While these tips and tricks are useful early on for a business traveller, as frequency increases and complexities of a trip come in, business travellers often do not have the luxury of time to look into every single detail of their itinerary, let alone to account for all contingencies, such as a cancelled flight or a mix-up in accommodation bookings. With increasing terror attacks and natural disasters, even a well-seasoned business traveller today may feel inadequately prepared for a routine work trip. A business traveller should perhaps focus on the business objectives of his travel and seek guidance from a travel expert to enjoy a fuss-free and fruitful business trip.