Travelers’ success on the road is directly connected to how well their trip was planned and prepared.
Planning a successful business trip should always prioritize keeping your business traveler as productive and stress-free as possible. This requires carefully considered, clever planning and a detailed itinerary.
After all, there are lots of variables to keep in mind, details to comb through, reservations to create, and schedules to align. And even after all that is done, you still have to contend with the possibility of problems popping up while your traveler is on the move.
As a travel manager, the best thing you can do is to be as organized as humanly possible beforehand so that you can be free to solve problems if and when they arise.
How can you do this? Check out our top tips below.
Planning a business trip for your boss
1. Make note of their usual preferences
When planning a business trip for your boss, you want to get faster and better at it every time. Don’t rely on your memory (hate to break it to you, but sometimes it’s wrong). Instead, take notes on your boss’s usual preferences, such as rushing for flight connections versus having layovers with plenty of cushion, or hiring a car service to pick them up versus having them take public transportation. That way, you can reduce some of the back and forth communication required for each trip.
2. Help them prioritize the most important parts of their trip
When your boss is traveling, there are likely to be a few very key things they need to accomplish. Understand what the goals are for this trip, whether that’s attending a single meeting or staffing a new office in a different country. Once you know the goals of the trip, organize the other details around it so that nothing gets in the way. Don’t forget to schedule in some free time—remember, business travelers are people too!
3. Take care of any extras
Aside from the key purpose of the business trip, your boss might also have some extra goals that they want to achieve. Maybe they want to stick to their exercise routine while away. Maybe they want to finish a slide deck for an upcoming presentation. Or maybe they want to bring their spouse along for the trip and have a day to sightsee.
Ask your boss about the things they’d like to do or accomplish during the trip, so you can help organize them, provide recommendations, or at the very least keep their calendar clear. Keep the trip organized but do leave some wiggle room in their travel plan for other activities.
4. Create a business trip itinerary
The last document in this section is a business trip itinerary, or a summary of all of the trip’s details in one place. This will save both you and your traveler the time and frustration of going through multiple documents and emails to find the information that matters. This goes beyond just scheduling. Organize all of their travel documents and travel information they might need handy on their journeys like boarding passes, flight times, flight numbers, seat numbers, arrival times, and more. This will save you and the traveler a lot of time and hassle.
When creating these documents, it helps to think chronologically so that you can put yourself in your traveler’s shoes and think clearly about what information is needed. Include things like times of important meetings or business dinners. And when you’re done, create not only electronic copies, but also hard copies. This cuts out any possibility that a dead smartphone or lack of internet throws your traveler off.
Planning a business trip for your colleagues
Making travel arrangements for your colleagues requires the same care and attention to detail discussed above. Your traveling employees should enjoy having access to the best corporate travel management out there, and it’s up to you to make their trip work.
5. Empower travelers to book for themselves
Most business travelers prefer to organize a business trip for themselves, just like they would when booking flights for a vacation, rather than having to go back and forth with someone over every little detail. Use travel management software that includes company policies so that employees can book what they want within your travel policy. This saves time for everyone, plus travelers get the itinerary and accommodation they want.
6. Put everything in one place
There are a lot of details when it comes to planning a business trip, like travel time, arrival airports, hotel reservations, pick-up details for hotel transport, and more. You should do your best to put everything in one place. When booking with one approved company travel management software, travelers can log in and see all of their upcoming itineraries.
Most colleagues want everything to be digital, but if that’s not the case for your colleagues, then make a travel folder. In the travel folder, enclose the printed business travel itinerary and confirmation numbers along with envelopes for travel receipts and any important travel or business documents they’ll need at check-in and their destination.
7. Purchase any needed supplies in advance of the trip
Think of your traveler as a mobile office representing your company domestically and abroad. As such, make sure to top up their tools: business cards, batteries, basic supplies, and other necessary consumables.
8. Give the traveler a trip checklist
There are a lot of moving parts when making business travel arrangements, so creating a traveler checklist can be hugely useful. This will ensure your traveler doesn’t forget all the essential cords, adapters, flash drives, devices, credit cards — anything they’ll possibly need!
If your traveler is catching an international flight, put together a paper dossier containing important information about their entire trip. Add details like currency, time zone, the local embassy’s contact information, local laws and culture, common diseases, and whether or not their phone plan covers international travel. You can even give them a few travel tips on restaurants, local etiquette, and things to see, for example. Information like this goes a very long way.
9. Save traveler’s contact information
A traveler contact sheet is essential. It’s a single document that includes all of the employee’s home and professional contact information along with standard details like name, title, ID number, phone number etc. Additional items like airline and hotel preferences, meal requests, their frequent flyer number, and passport details will all make this document much stronger. Conveniently, TravelPerk lets you input most of this information once, automatically filling it in for future travel arrangements. However, you store this information, ask travelers to confirm it or update it before they go.
10. Create a travel planning checklist template
Another useful document is a travel planning checklist. On it goes the details for every flight, ground transportation, hotel booking, dining and entertainment reservation, and meeting or event detail, along with plenty of room for anything else. Use this to keep on top of the little details that get easily lost in the shuffle.
One of the primary motivations for any travel manager planning a business trip is making sure no detail is left unaccounted for. No travel manager wants to receive a call from a desperate employee about incorrect ticket dates or problems checking-in because of mistyped information, for instance. That’s why a set of templates and checklists will do wonders to prevent mistakes and oversights from occurring.
11. Debrief after the business trip
Debriefing after a business trip is just as important as the preparation. At this point, there are many aspects of the trip to go over that offer many benefits to a constantly evolving business.
- When your traveler returns, retrieve their travel folder. Check for receipts, make any important notes, and then apply for reimbursements as soon as possible. Expensify’s integration with TravelPerk makes this exceptionally easy.
- Replenish your traveler’s mobile office supplies so they’re ready to go next time around.
- With your traveler, review any outstanding voice messages, emails, and other updates
- Ask your traveler if everything went well and what could be better.
Top tools for planning business trips
To make your business trip planning as painless as possible, use these tools.
TravelPerk is the next-gen business travel solution for travelers and administrative professionals. It has the world’s largest travel inventory, great options, and smart management features like booking within policy and travel spend reporting.
It can be a bummer to travel somewhere new and not see what the city has to offer. A quick guided tour or simple excursion from GetYourGuide might be all you need. There are guides all over the world, and options for every budget.
Google Drive or your company’s cloud storage system
When planning a business trip, you’ll want to keep all travel details in one place. While your itinerary (for your flight, hotel, trains, and car rentals) can be stored inside of TravelPerk after booking, there might be some other details that you need to store in one place. For example, you might have information on the office or the client or the event. Create a Google Drive folder for the trip so the traveler knows where to find any detail.
Remember, travel management is a continually evolving exercise, and it pays to be diligent about learning everything you can for better outcomes.