Stepping into the business lounge of an airport, a full schedule of significant meetings ahead of you and exciting opportunities on exotic shores - there’s no doubt that corporate travel can be a career highlight.
But for the travel manager at home base it can also be a headache. After all, wrangling rogue employees, reservations and delayed flights takes skill.
Corporate travel is an all-encompassing and often-challenging experience, for all involved. To make it an enjoyable one, travel managers must take a holistic approach.
Below we arm you with some simple tools and tactics for ensuring your jetsetters are positive and productive overseas.
The Social Scene
Prioritising the ‘social scene’ when booking accommodation may sound shallow, but it’s often the difference between an energised, motivated employee and one crippled by homesickness. While we’re not suggesting you house your jetsetters next-door to the city’s hottest club, a lively area with excitement in the air can boost morale.
However, business travellers come in all shapes, sizes and suits. So travel managers must consider variances like age, position, seniority and travel frequency when planning itineraries.
For example, if you’re organising travel for a seasoned corporate traveller, it’s likely their social demands will differ from their Gen-Y counterparts. That said, travel managers should also consider the personal interests and ambitions of their jetsetters and facilitate these experiences overseas.
Booking accommodation near diverse eating options, cultural attractions like museums and galleries, and networking-rich bars will appeal to jetsetters of all ages.
Suggesting restaurants and leisure activities will add a personal touch to their experience, but remember that today’s corporate traveller is plugged in and always-on. Doing their own research is only a smartphone-swipe away, so don’t fret if you haven’t mapped out a complete eating schedule.
Apps to help them get around
Moovit - Smart local transport
Employees input their location and destination and the app configures up-to-date subway, bus, or walking routes. The app supports 68 major cities throughout North America, Europe and Australia, along with schedules and transit maps.
MapsWithMe - Detailed offline maps
This travel app allows employees to download detailed maps for thousands of destinations around the world - without internet connection. This can save the often-costly international roaming charges.
AroundMe - Locates the nearest cafes, ATMs and more.
AroundMe is an intelligent GPS-powered local search engine which acts as a local tour guide for users. Users can see nearby restaurants, movie theatres, bars and ATMs.
AroundMe integrates with Booking.com, Opentable.com, FourSquare and other popular services, making foreign cities a little more familiar.
A powerful and easy-to-use language translation app, Google Translate is accessible offline and has the capacity to translate 52 languages without an internet connection. The instant camera translation function can even translate text instantly in 29 languages.
The Camera Mode, Conversation Mode and Handwriting features translate text via pictures, speech and drawn characters.
Health & Safety
It’s no secret that travel is an exciting activity. But did you know it’s also good for your health? Travelling, whether for business or pleasure has been proven to increase mental health and wellbeing. It supports cognitive function and promotes positive self-reflection.
However, excessive travel can compound stress. Researches at The University of Columbia reviewed 13,000 medical records in a corporate wellness plan, finding a correlation between excessive business travel and poor health.
They suggested companies “consider the availability of fitness facilities in hotel property selection, offer reimbursement incentives for healthy eating and incorporate employee stress management programs.
While travel managers are responsible for the strategic planning of business trips, they also have duty of care over their employee’s health.
Thankfully, there are a number of online resources to keep your jetsetters flying fit:
iJet is an integrated risk management company that provides up-to-the-minute international health, safety and security intelligence.
Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) is one of the major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services. Much like the Australian Government’s SmartTraveller resource, it offers a comprehensive overview of health alerts, required immunisations and political considerations.
Corporate Travel Safety is a one-stop resource that offers advice and gear to protect travellers. Simply, they strive to “help travellers enjoy their trip more and worry less. We seek out and offer high quality and functional travel gear with anti-theft features and style to keep valuables secure.”
Comfortable Employees are Happy Employees
Your jetsetters don't want a hotel room by the freeway after a 15-hr flight. Comfort can be key to a memorable corporate travel experience.
As discussed in our comprehensive Guide to Road Warrior Happiness, 84% of employees prefer to work from the comfort of their hotel, and the majority of these cited Wi-Fi as the most critical facility.
But access to Wi-Fi isn’t only vital for work. A survey of 6,000 business travellers conducted by Carlson Wagonlit Travel found “poor/no Internet connection was the second-biggest stress inducer, after lost or delayed luggage."
For travel managers, key comfort considerations should include:
- Booking direct flights where possible, or reducing layovers.
- Securing hotel stays that are local to conferences and meetings.
- Selecting stay packages that include breakfast.
- Recommending suitable smartphone applications to employees.
Significant developments in complementary navigation systems on personal devices means travel managers can have an up-to-date bird's-eye view of their travelling staff.
Having the ability to track flight delays means transport arrangements can be revised when necessary. If a new car needs to be booked or rescheduled, it can be. If an employee misses a connecting flight, you’re able to take appropriate action in a way that doesn’t waste time or exacerbate stress.
Keep Productivity Firing
Employees who return from corporate travel may be a little bit tired, but once the jet-lag subsides they’ll have a spring in their step.
In fact, Business Travel News found 71% of travel managers saw corporate travel as beneficial for productivity. More than four in five suggested “business travel positively affects employees willingness to remain at the firm.”
There are a number of simple tools travel managers can arm their jetsetters with to keep productivity firing;
Satechi Smart Travel Router with USB Port is a 3-in-one charger, adapter and router. The Satechi works in collaboration with any existing Wi-Fi and is more practical when connecting numerous devices at a time. It also eliminates the need for multiple power adapters and works in 150 countries.
This resource is excellent for saving, sharing and working on presentation or documents while offline. So when your staff are 39,000 feet in the air, they can utilise their time most effectively and won’t have to stress about lost time. The best part, you don’t need to be Apple user to gain access to the cloud.
For anyone that has a jam-packed business itinerary, Evernote is a great tool. Sometimes capturing information from five meetings and three presentations can be overwhelming.
Evernote helps you consolidate your thoughts by allowing you to document notes at real-time or as you commute between appointments. The app function additionally lets you clip web articles to your notes.
Get Back What You Put In
The truth is, when it comes to corporate travel there’s a lot of room for things to go awry. But make a genuine effort to facilitate the perfect overseas business trip for your employees and they'll be incentivised to work hard.
Adopting the tools and tactics we’ve listed above gives you and your employees the best chance to pull off the corporate travel experience of a lifetime.
Is your business spending too much on corporate travel? Calculate your potential savings using our Travel Savings Calculator below: