With a new class of graduates entering the working world, companies – especially startups and those focusing on the younger generation – are increasingly encouraging their staff to travel to enable personal and professional growth, so some recent grads might find themselves on the road for work sooner than they thought.
American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) shares some tips for first-time business travellers to make the most out of their business trip.
- Know your company’s travel policy…It might sound tedious, but the best way to make the most of your travel is understanding what you can and can’t do. Talk to someone about how your company handles travel bookings, which airlines or hotels are off-limits and what’s expense-able. You may learn about things your company allows you weren’t aware of, like paying for advanced seat selection or Wi-Fi on board a plane. If you work at a larger company, you may have a team of travel managers that can explain how this works. If you work at a smaller company, reach out to HR. Travelling within the parameters your company sets out is important because they can keep track of your whereabouts in case unexpected crises arise.
- …and travel perks. There are many innovative brands and services out there to make travel easier, and some companies are cutting some deals so that employees can reap the benefits. Hate dry cleaning your work clothes on the go? DUFL is a personal valet that simplifies business travel by shipping, cleaning and storing your business attire. Some companies have even brought in TSA and US Customs and Border Protection officials to offer on-site TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry certification services, so that business travellers can avoid the hassle of getting to appointments during the work day.
- To OOO or not to OOO. It’s really up to what’s standard protocol at your company. If you are always plugged in and plan on staying up to date on emails, skip the automated reply and just let others know about time differences or delayed responses. If you do put up an OOO message, do so for the full day you are departing and returning no matter what time your flight is, to give yourself time to pack and prepare.
- Someway, somehow, get rest. Do whatever you need to do to stay rested – performance and productivity depend on it. If you’d rather not shell out on noise-cancelling headphones or a deluxe (but slightly embarrassing) travel pillow or convertible jacket, free White Noise apps that soothe you to sleep with your background noise of choice should do.
- Fear NOT leaving the meeting venue. Talk to your travel manager about policies that allow you to get more out of your business trip. Some companies allow travellers to spend an extra day in their destination, or make bookings for two so that your significant other can join in. Many progressive companies actually encourage employees to have cultural experiences because it boosts creativity and employees’ morale.
- Constant (tech-enabled) vigilance. Wherever they are in the world, travellers should stay aware and alert because dangers or threats can strike in an instant. Your company may offer a number of digital services that can be a second set of eyes by providing real-time alerts. Companies that work with GBT can opt in to a Proactive Traveller Care tool, where a GBT team monitors for interruptions and alerts impacted travellers directly via text, email or phone call to help them rebook. Travel app Safeture filters warnings and security information based on your location and destination, as well as provides real-time updates for an annual price of $21.99.
- Navigate like a local. Get to your meeting or other destination on time with help from free navigation apps to route directions using all modes of transportation, including public transit. We like Citymapper, which has data for 36 major international cities. If you’re looking for a place to eat, there are tons of recommendation apps but nothing beats local knowledge – so just ask.
- Download your TMC/agency, airline, and hotel mobile apps for alerts and easy changes/information. Also download apps specific to your destination – a ground transport or public transport app that works there, and any local popular app for recommendations/venue info.
- Have an extra battery pack to recharge your phone while on the go. Have a power adapter pack ready for international travel.
- Always have headphones/headset so you can zone out and take a call from anywhere.
- Send an invite to your team and colleagues (marked “free time”) that says you’re travelling to X, so they know you’re travelling in their calendars. Out of Office notices when people are travelling on business can be ineffective. Everyone has a mobile device for e-mail, so it hardly matters anymore. People get busy and responses can be slow no matter where they are!
- Never, ever, ever check a bag.
- Check the weather in advance, to pack appropriately and highlight potential for weather related delays/cancellations. If there’s a risk, monitor closely – get alerts when there’s an issue, and immediately call/use apps to change flights. Speed matters.