When first setting up a company, the prospect of regular business travel can seem both exciting and glamorous. However it’s not long until the prospect of jumping on another early train to make a meeting at the other end of the country can seem less attractive and more of a hassle.
Not only is it a nuisance to take big chunks of time out of the office as a small business owner, travel costs can rack up quickly – not to mention how exhausting trekking up and down the country can be. With this in mind, I’ve pulled together the ultimate quick guide to acing your busy business travel schedule…
Buy in advance
It’s an obvious statement, but you really can slash travel costs by purchasing tickets in advance. Don’t feel like you have to get the train either, whilst the UK rail network in the main is fairly comprehensive, it can at times be quicker and even cheaper to fly – make sure you explore both options.
The Trainline provides quick and easy train schedules with costs, and Skyscanner is a great way to check cheap flights quickly. If you are going to be travelling to a set location on a regular basis, it’s also worth looking at setting up cheap ticket alerts. Both Trainline and Skyscanner offer this service.
Leave yourself time
Whilst it can feel frustrating spending lots of time travelling, leaving things until the last minute can actually create more stress. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time between transfers and departures. You can utilise the time to catch up on emails and this also means you can ensure you’re not paying hefty on the day fees for missed travel.
With smartphones, tablets and laptops, working on the road doesn’t have to be a hassle these days. Investigate Wi-Fi arrangements in advance and whether or not you need to look at investing in a dongle package for your business. For the sake of £20 a month, you could save hours in wasted waiting time trying to pair your laptop to your phone. A dongle ensures you’re online when you’re out of data and an Internet connection isn’t available.
Invest in your luggage
There’s nothing worse than struggling with big clunky bags, or a suitcase with dodgy wheels. Investing in a good quality set of travel baggage ensures you look the part if you’re going straight from travelling into a meeting, and also ensures you can travel with ease.
Nobody wants to spend their time away carting around heavy and awkward luggage – plus experts warn that, when travelling for business, carrying heavy equipment around like laptops in inappropriate bags can be damaging for your posture.
Take advantage of apps
There are plenty of apps specifically designed to make your business travel a breeze, from expenses trackers such as Concur, to food destination apps that are perfect for treating clients like Yelp; if you’re struggling to keep abreast of your business travel arrangements, there’s an app out there designed to meet your needs.
My personal favourite is Tripit, because it makes itinerary planning so easy, but Asana and Workflow Max are also great for scheduling your teams’ work and ensuring everything back in the office is taken care of.
Consider an overnight stay in advance
Trying to save on costs by reducing your accommodation stay and travelling at unsavoury hours is often less than productive. Not only will you perform less effectively with clients when exhausted, it increases the chances of staff illness, which can be costly to the business.
Give yourself and your team plenty of time to prepare for the big day, week or even month ahead by scheduling in extra time prior to your business trip to arrive and settle within a reasonable time frame.
Make it a ‘workation’
Just because you’ve travelled away on business, doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of being in a new location. Look at opportunities to extend your trip once you’ve completed your business – even look at inviting your family up to enjoy the stay. Creating a healthy work / life balance is imperative to a successful business model.
Don’t forget to unwind
Speaking of which, it’s incredibly important to schedule in some ‘me’ time. Whether you’re away for a few days or a few months, establishing boundaries between work and leisure can help you to become more productive.
When it’s clocking off time, clock off. Just because you’re away from home doesn’t mean you should be obliged to work 12+ hour days. Take some time to settle into your location, enjoy the local scenery and unwind on an evening.
Many small businesses remain contactable 24/7, and whilst it may be difficult to switch off your device and take some valuable time away from email, it is very important. Come the end of the day, turn the notification setting off on your email and any other work related app – you need time to really switch off, and if it’s super important the team or your clients can always call and leave a message, which you can pick up at a time that works for you.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
As with anything, the successful business traveller prepares in advance. By being prepped ahead of your business trip, you’ll be less likely to feel stressed and unproductive. Understand your itinerary, your accommodation and the city you’re visiting.
Also look at different facilities you’re able to take advantage of. For example most trains offer Wi-Fi these days, so look at purchasing this in advance when you book; similarly good quality accommodation providers will offer corporate travel services such as dry cleaning, wake up calls and speedy internet access – be sure to investigate the options prior to booking.
Here at CitySuites we’ll do all of the above, as well as offering complimentary extras such as supplying a schedule of interesting events and places to visit across the city.
In a nutshell, business travel doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. If you plan in advance and make sure you’re up to speed, you can actually be more productive than you may first think – it’s just about making the most of the opportunity and finding a business travel style that suits your needs.
Written by Gavin Bailey, CitySuites operations director.