There they go again. You've sent your business travellers off into the wild blue yonder in search of more deals, more contracts, more connections and ultimately more business.
This team of yours are your front-line troops who battle red-eye flights, airline food, in-flight rom-coms, busy terminals, delayed connections and jet lag.
All this before arriving at the hotel.
And it's just the start of a trip that has a whirlwind schedule of meeting after meeting. The truth is, business travel can be a bit of a hard slog.
But how can you keep your team members on their toes and at the top of their game? Before you send your warriors off to battle, arm them with the tools they need to make business happen.
Below you'll find some simple ways to make your next business trip a bottom-line-boosting success.
Organising your travelling employees before they fly.
Before you surprise your employees with a Business Class upgrade, ensure all of your road warriors are well-equipped to be at their best from the moment they land.
Smartphone applications like Asana allow your team to communicate with each other (and the unlucky employees left at home base) without missing a beat. Create and assign tasks, track progress and manage documents all from it’s easy-to-use interface.
Other free file-sharing services like Google Drive are a must for travelling employees who plan to create and collaborate while on-the-go overseas.
More apps you need for business travel.
What a godsend apps are. There are dozens of them that are travel related. They’re not only a necessary component of a mobile office, but are vital for efficient business travel. Finding, communicating and networking away from home base has never been easier. Below are some great favourites to arm your road warriors.
Skyscanner: For small teams of two to three travellers, unanticipated meetings in unanticipated states (or even countries) can be tackled with ease with the Skyscanner app. Skyscanner makes finding, comparing and booking flights a breeze - so you don’t rack up extra costs on last-minute travel arrangements.
XE currency: The XE Currency app is a handy way to convert currency. It features live exchange rates, historical charts and stored rates, and even works offline.
TripLingo: Fumbling your way through conversations in a foreign tongue can be an ever-present reality in business travel. The TripLingo app won’t make you a multilingual master in minutes, but will arm your road warriors with the phrases, flashcards and translations they need to stay coherent and safe.
Booking flights is often the most research-intensive part of corporate travel.
Thankfully, the number and variety of smartphone apps to streamline this process is phenomenal.
Skyscanner actually “crunched three years of data” to reveal the best time to book flights in a recent study. The cheapest month to travel was in November, offering savings of 12% on the average price paid. And December proved the most expensive time to fly by 20%.
To maximise savings, we advise booking your flights at least 10-20 days out from your trip for international travel and 5-10 days for domestic travel.
So now your road warriors have the tech they need to hit the ground running, but how can you keep spirits high and productivity flowing?
The basic needs of your travelling employees.
There are certain things your road warriors can’t work without - food on the table, a bed to sleep in and a decent Wi-Fi connection. In fact, a Pan Pacific & Randstad Work Monitor poll found 90% of travelling staff considered free Wi-Fi to be the most important facility at their hotel.
Delighting your employees with quality accommodation (and even flight upgrades) sends the message that you genuinely care about their overseas experience.
Embrace the outdoors.
According to Corporate Traveller, 84% of business travellers tend to work primarily from their hotel room. This can equate to a lot of time spent behind the screen with the curtains drawn.
But even taking the laptop down to the lobby, grabbing a coffee and tapping away there can break up the routine and keep excitement levels high. Achieving creativity and productivity can often be as simple as a change of scene.
Checking out club land.
No, not the dance your head off variety, the club level lounge in the hotel. Most business travellers have elite status in hotels which enables them to go to the exclusive lounge and indulge in free food and drinks.
It's another opportunity for your team members to mingle and get acquainted with like-minded individuals.
Become a regular, score upgrades.
There are real benefits for business travellers who stay at the same hotel each time they travel. Even just being recognised by staff and made to feel welcome, as soon as you walk through the door.
Once your traveller becomes a hotel regular, they may be given the best-in-house upgrade at a regular room rate, VIP access and free internet all the time. And because they're known at the hotel, management will often bend over backwards to provide a room when they appear to be booked out.
Avoiding hotel room service.
We all know upgrades don’t happen all the time, as much as we’d like them to. So keeping abreast of costs while travelling is crucial to the overall success of the trip and convincing your boss of the return on investment.
One way costs can sneak up on you is room service.
Your traveller may have finally checked in at the hotel and settled in. When they feel peckish, their natural instinct is to pick up the phone for room service. Advise them not to. It seems very convenient at the time, but after a while it can become a real habit.
And in no time at all, it becomes dinner in bed, watching foreign TV with subtitles.
Advise them to abandon their room and go to the hotel restaurant. Some provide a communal table for business travellers, which provide a great way to rub shoulders with fellow travellers, connect and share experiences.
Create a culture of trust.
While we’re talking money, let’s look at the facts:
Corporate travel is good for business. A study by Virgin-Atlantic found every dollar invested in corporate travel saw the company making an average of US$9.50 in revenue and US$2.90 in profits.
Not convinced? Check out our article on how to make the most of the business travel where we highlight many other benefits associated with corporate trips.
But taking these great numbers back to the boss requires your road warriors to be frugal with the company card where possible - like putting down the room service receiver.
Looking after the client.
Encourage your road warriors to take clients out for lunch. It may seem a bit of a chore, but it's certainly one way to strengthen a business relationship outside of the meeting room.
It’s also a great opportunity to explore the area, find the best local haunts and network with confidence. Before you set off on your business trip, ask your team if they have existing connections in the city who may be accommodating - it could develop into a mutually beneficial party for all.
Set the best example.
At the end of the day, happiness is an inside job. Show your road warriors how excited you and your company is to be showing them off to overseas investors, clients or contacts - you’ll find your excitement is infectious.
For more information on the trends that are redefining business travel, download your free eGuide, '5 Corporate Travel Trends to Watch in 2017' below:
Written by Ross Fastuca @Locomote