While it’s completely normal for delays and disruptions to occur on a business trip, a savvy office manager can make the difference between a more comfortable experience or a more stressful one for a traveling employee.
Effectively preparing for and helping a traveling employee through the inevitable is an art form that takes time and experience to master. Luckily, we at TravelPerk have plenty of both.
Here are a handful of tips to better prepare your employees for the very worst business travel has to offer:
Best Practices: Avoiding Delays and Disruptions
1. Book flights as early as possible
No matter the time of year, airline, and airport, all flights start on time. Throughout the day, problems compound and throw schedules out of whack, creating scheduling issues later on in the day. Knowing this, it’s a lot less likely for flights to be delayed or cancelled if it’s the first one of the day. This means booking your employees on those 7AM flights, while tough for them, is much better in the long run. With less of a chance for delays and cancellation to happen, there’s a higher likelihood of a smooth start to the day.
2. Always book non-stop flights
For the most part, non-stop flights are cheaper, faster, and require less effort than assigning employees to a multi-stop adventure that forces them to sprint from one end of a terminal to another. Ultimately, non-stop flights are simpler and give less opportunity for disruptions to happen in the first place.
3. Ensure enough time for connections and layovers
If it’s absolutely impossible to book a non-stop flight, then ensure that employees have enough time to make the layovers and connections you set up for them. Nowadays, algorithms handle the bulk of scheduling duties for lots of businesses and end up giving employees just 30 minutes to make their connections. In some airports, that’s not even enough time to get off the plane and into a bathroom, let alone to another gate. Double-check all itineraries and make sure your employees have sufficient time.
4. Avoid booking travel during peak times if possible
Obviously, setting up your employees to travel through a holiday weekend is a huge no-no. Not only would they have to slog through the crowds of holiday travelers and the chaos they create, but flight and hotel prices are higher on average. During times like this, delays are a certainty and not the exception. Make sure to avoid them!
5. Research on-time performance
Something as simple as knowing which airlines have better records for on-time performance can go a long way in providing your traveling employees with a better travel experience. A website like FlightStats is a quick and easy way to reference a carrier you may have in mind for your employee’s next business trip, not only giving you on-time performance ranking but also a bunch of other data points to make a more informed decision.
6. Encourage your employees to never check a bag
It’s just never a good idea. Too many airlines lose too many bags too often. Why even make it a possibility by checking a bag?
7. If possible, remind employees to wear easy outfits for the security line
Security lines are already a nightmare. Encouraging employees to wear easily removable articles of clothing can help speed up the process of getting through one, especially if most of the people on it are on the same page. Advise your employees to avoid the lace-ups, complex belts, and multiple pieces of jewellery.
Best Practices: Shortening Delays and Disruption
1. Give employees all the requisite phone numbers for the airline being flown to address issues when they happen
In the interest of keeping employee travel stress to a minimum, it’s better for office managers to handle delays and cancellations themselves. Sometimes, though, it’s just faster for an employee to take on the burden of solving the problem. At the end of the day, they’re better equipped to address it head on since they’re on the ground. Make sure they have everything they need to do so effectively by giving them a cheat sheet (of actual paper!) of all the requisite phone numbers for the carrier they’re flying with. This makes it much easier to try and rebook flights as soon as possible, rather than wait around for help.
2. Use the power of digital travel booking solutions
Sometimes, an office manager may not be available because it’s too early in the day, for instance. This means that help services from digital business travel tools like TravelPerk can make an employee’s life much easier by giving them a direct connection to a team that can help out at a moment’s notice, among many other benefits. With the ability to address any bookings made through the tool, a service like this can serve as an effective guide through the hardships of airline difficulties.
3. Upgrade your employees if possible
Consider this a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. While it may cost a lot more money to upgrade your employee, it also means they’ll make it on to a flight that was previously “overbooked,” or onto another flight with a similar schedule. Sometimes, the trade-off is worth it if where they need to be is that important.
4. Inform employees of alternative modes of transport
In the event of a cancelled or severely delayed flight and depending on what the final destination is, it may be possible to take a different flight to a smaller, regional airport rather than a major hub and take a different mode of transportation from there. A car rental or a train ticket can serve as an alternate mode of transportation and get employees through the last leg of a trip faster than waiting overnight for the next flight in the most extreme case.
Best Practices: Avoiding Problems on Arrival
1. Paper, paper, paper
Phones run out of battery and get swallowed by toilets every single day. In short: it’s hard to completely rely on them. That’s why it’s important to create cheat sheets, filled out with information as diverse as flight and hotel information, important contact numbers, general directions, train information and even useful phrases if traveling to a country with a different language.
In particular, a hotel’s concierge number is one of the most valuable numbers to have in a brand new city as they’ll usually do everything possible to help their guests out. This is invaluable in more trying situations.
2. Remind employees to have cash on hand
Like the old adage say, “Cash is king.” Credit and debit card troubles can easily muck up a smooth landing so having cash available is like speaking a universal language and can get your employees out of a jam when they finally touch down.
3. Travelers may be entitled to compensation
the European regulations protect those who travel by plane. Few passengers are aware of these consumer rights and may lack the legal knowledge required to claim compensation. Companies like Flight-Delayed and AirHelp focus on these services.
Above all else, make sure to remind your employees they’re traveling. At the end of the day, spontaneity is what it’s all about!