Overzealous airport security, long days on the road and annoying flight delays can make travelling for business a challenging experience. However, there are ways to make your business travel less stressful and more enjoyable. Whether you’re travelling to see clients for half the year or have to attend monthly meetings interstate, there are simple ways to improve your business travel experience.
From streamlining the booking process to improving the way you pack, Gold Coast-based business travel specialist Geoff Ivin of Travel Counsellors has some sound advice to make the most of your business travel.
Enlist the help of a travel agent who understands your needs
As a business travel expert, it’s no surprise that Geoff recommends handing over your travel affairs to a professional. “A professional travel agent or travel management company experienced in corporate travel will streamline all your travel, saving you time, money and stress,” Geoff says. “Think of the hours it will save your assistant who may be scrolling through online deals for hotels and airfares”. A professional travel agent will save you and your staff time, but they also can save you money. “Travel agents have access to a wide range of travel products and know the best deals out there, as well as the quickest, easiest way to get from A to B,” adds Geoff. He also notes that professional agents will have a comprehensive travel file with all your details, so they will know all your membership numbers, dietary requirements, seat preferences and favourite hotels. It’s also worth noting that a good agent is always on-call to manage problems and changes to your itinerary, so if you need to be somewhere quickly, they can mobilise to get you there in a flash instead of having to sort this out yourself.
Sign up to memberships and associations for benefits
Many people sign up to frequent flyer clubs and membership associations but then fail to make the most of the benefits on offer. It’s well worth reading up on the benefits of your memberships. For example, many people aren’t aware that Qantas Frequent Flyer points can be accrued at many restaurants around Australia, and organisations like RACQ offer a range of discounts on car hire, hotels and restaurants. Depending on your annual spend, business customers often have access to a wide range of perks (such as lounge access) for staying loyal to a particular airline too.
Invest in a bag and items to be used for travel only
If you travel frequently for work, it’s well worth being organised and investing in a separate bag and travel kit dedicated for travel use only. If you have a bag, toiletry bag, set of clothes and extras (power cords, pens, notepads etc.) that you use for travel only, half of your packing will already be done before you’ve left home. This system minimises packing stress associated with last minute trips and also stops items getting lost, because the items in your travel kit belong in there, and nowhere else!
Always choose flexible fares
Flexible fares are the best friend of business travellers. If you’re travelling for work, chances are you will be attending meetings, conferences, roadshows and corporate dinners. Choosing a flexible fare allows you to change your flights to coincide with any changes in meeting times or days. We all know that clients often need to change their schedule, so choosing a fare that offers flexibility is the best way to be able to stay nimble and respond accordingly when your clients change their plans.
Fly direct to reduce stress
While it may be tempting to save money and buy a cheaper fare that involves stopovers or switching planes, you are leaving yourself open to further delays every time you add another sector to your flight route. A direct flight may cost more initially, but when you factor in that your time is a commodity, you’re always better off choosing the most direct flight. Business travel can be stressful, so the last thing you want to do is arrive tired and stressed because you’ve been in transit for 24 hours, when you could have arrived at your destination in 15 hours.
Keep calm and call your business travel agent
Above all, remember that travel can be unpredictable and many things are out of your control. Flight delays due to poor weather or lost luggage don’t need to ruin your business trip. Stay calm, take a breath and call your travel agent to make alternative arrangements.