Business Travel Solutions for the “Must” Trip:
- Send someone else. A junior associate, attending as your representative, can often do well and get an invaluable learning experience. If the subject involves someone else's specialty, why not send the specialist?
- Use other communications. Can you accomplish your purpose with a letter or a call? A videoconference can avoid the need for several people to travel all day for a one-hour discussion.
- Postpone. Don't overreact and go rushing off. Wait until you have all the facts. Don't schedule the meeting if a key decision maker isn't available. If it isn't urgent, wait until a more convenient time. Suggest, "I'll be in your area in 10 days. Can it wait until then?"
Dos and Don’ts for Necessary Business Travel
Before you depart, ask your team members this question: "What will you have accomplished when I return?" Responses are both a goal and a commitment. Announce a set time you'll call the office each day. When you return, deal immediately with notes from the trip ( expense reports, ideas collected). If necessary, spend the first day in a hideaway. If you procrastinate ("I'll just do that tomorrow"), by the time you get to it, you'll forget details and lose value.
Once you determine a trip is necessary now, look for ways to mine the most from your time.
- Do plan the start-to-return itinerary for time management. Where possible, try to group appointments together. Who else can you visit on the same trip? Can other subjects be discussed? On layovers, schedule appointments at airports, make phone calls, or read valuable (but not pressing) materials.
- Do be prepared for changes. Take a portable office (writing materials, calculator, tape recorder, laptop computer) along. Make sure your appointment schedule includes home numbers, in case plans change.
- Do coordinate details prior to beginning travel. Leave standing instructions with your travel agent; avoid arriving or departing during local rush hours. Naturally, insist on flight numbers, meal service, departure and arrival times, ground transportation details, and hotel reservations (addresses, phone numbers, reservation numbers). Get advance weather data so you can dress for cold;hot weather destinations. Hold luggage to carry-on, to save much time and stress on arrival.
- Don't automatically get a plane. Often driving 150 miles or less is a better choice: It avoids ticket lines, waiting rooms, flight delays, airline food, lost baggage.
- Don't drive to the airport. A cab or limo avoids the parking hassle. Use highway time for reading or catching your breath. When you make a mad dash to the plane, you'll be tempted to sink back and relax once you sit down, instead of working.
- Don't overlook the tidbits of time. Use pre-boarding minutes to make phone calls or mentally rehearse your presentation. Ten minutes may not sound significant, but six 10-minute segments add up to an hour.
- Do ask for an aisle seat. If you're right-handed, get a left side aisle seat, so your writing arm is on the outside; left-handers should sit on the right-side aisle. Then watch for a change spot next to an empty seat (better for work). If you're traveling with an associate you need to confer with, do. Otherwise explain to a talkative seatmate that you need quiet time in a separate seat in order to work.
- Don’t feel obligated to go out on the town. When you get to the hotel, resist pressures to explore the city if you really aren't interested. Work or rest instead. Carefully consider the purpose of evening activity and act accordingly.
- Don't eat excessively. Eating an abundance of food makes you sluggish. On a trip an amazing amount of alcohol can go down the hatch: at the airport, on the plane (before and after dinner), following your arrival, a few more in the evening, a nightcap. Most people can't take it. If you don't wind up drunk, you'll at least be seriously debilitated-when you need to perform at peak.
If you arrange it so, travel time is uninterrupted work time. No phone, no casual visitors, no meetings, and if there is a crisis, someone else takes care of it!