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If you’re planning a business trip and wasting hours in the process, we’re here to help. This is the second in a series of three articles about traveling for work. In the first article, I shared my business travel tips on how to get the most out of your business trip.
This post is sponsored by National Car Rental. I’m a paid influencer for them. While they have paid me for this post, the opinions and ideas in it are mine and mine alone. #ad #sponsoredpost
For many, the thought of going on a business trip is far from exciting.
Setting up meetings,
Searching for flights.
Dealing with security lines.
Possibly catching some sickness on the flight.
Managing transportation in a strange airport.
And, still showing up “fit and fresh” for that conference or meeting.
Despite all the technology that’s supposed to make things easier, the entire experience has gotten more complicated.
Since I only travel three to five times a year, I asked 12 seasoned and road weary business experts how they control their travel experience, save time and still have enough energy to do it all over again.
Here is how the business pro’s you love to follow make the most of your corporate travel.
Use Business Trips to Cement Relationships
Business travel is key to my success. I love to reach out to colleagues and social media connections to deepen relationships and to gather information for new content and marketing creation.
Here’s how you can get the most out of your next business trip:
- Reach out to people in your network who live near your destination after you determine your dates. I use social media and email.
- Make definite plans that get on everybody’s calendar or nothing happens.
- Use the get-together as an opportunity to create content. At a minimum, take photos or movies.
Surprise Them With a Gift
Face-to-face is still important.
It’s wonderful to meet prospects and clients over drinks and dinner. It’s about relationship. Arrange meetings and dinner get-togethers in advance. Do research about them and their challenges in advance. Bring something fun (nothing expensive) to surprise them.
Make Sure You’re Comfortable
As a professional speaker, I am on the road over 150 days out of the year.
To adjust to new time zones and fight jet lag, I sleep whenever I can at any time. Even 15 minutes here and 30 minutes there does wonders.
And lastly, I always get an aisle seat. Sitting 4 to 6 hours straight just is not healthy. So I stand often, even if it is to read standing next to my seat. I will pass up a window view all day long, simply to stretch by standing.
Hack Your Way to a Stress-Free Business Trip
I fly between 75K-100K a year to participate/attend about 20-30 conferences a year. One thing I’ve learned is that investing a little time to strategically plan your trip saves a lot of time and aggravation. Here are just a few examples of strategies I use:
- Use CLEAR to breeze through security.
- Check out the benefits offered by your credit cards. Many cards offer travel benefits such as access to VIP lounges and credits toward food and wifi.
- Finally, check your bag! Checking your bag and using the airline’s app lets you see when your bag is checked, loaded on the plane, and where to collect your bag once it’s taken off the plane.
Make Good Use of Your Time
My advice is to leverage the “downtime” before, during and after your business trip.
Be sure to have a plan in place to maximize the time you have. How will you spend it? Working? Touristing? If working, work on what?
I travel fairly often a lot of the year. Most of my business travel is to cover events, see clients and attend conferences. Here are a few of my travel secrets.
- Don’t carry your computer on your shoulder. Doctor’s orders—but that’s good advice for everyone.
- Get a small surge protector or multiple extension device to take with you. Most hotel rooms are severely lacking on plugs. Get an extra-long cord for your phone/tablet too.
- Always have a light jacket, sweater or wrap with you. Conference rooms are notoriously chilly.
- I like to use retractable tip Sharpies—that way I never lose the pen cover on a plane—which causes all sorts of issues.
- If you wear contacts, take an extra pair with you. You never know when you’ll lose one (I did, just a few days ago)
Get Outside to Beat Jet Lag
In the consulting business physical presence is huge. Despite amazing technology. Eye contact and body language and repeat business, oh my.
I use walking outside to clear my head and deal with jet lag. When I was spending a week every month in Tokyo I had multiple walking routes memorized. If possible I’ll walk to client location instead of taking a taxi or subway. If I don’t know the city I always ask somebody, usually a concierge in the hotel, to recommend where to walk. They usually have maps and tips. — Tim Berry, Founder, Palo Alto Software, @TimBerry
Engage, Listen and Watch Body Language
As someone who runs a marketing team out of my home office, travel is critical to me remaining effective.
Not only do I need to get in front of my team on a regular basis, but I need to hear the concerns of our sales and product people in a way that just doesn’t happen on calls, emails or messaging.
Plus, it’s a major bonus when I can travel to an event because there’s nothing like watching a prospect’s eye’s light up when I say something that rings true or their eyes glaze over when I try a message that falls flat.
Track Your Expenses
Travel plays a limited but vital role in my business. Travel is mainly just for speaking engagements at conventions and other business meetings.
As a tax expert, I’m especially careful to keep my receipts (scanning them with an app) so I can write off everything that’s allowed.
Don’t Fly if You Can Drive
If I’m traveling regionally for business, I will rent a car so that I don’t put mileage on my personal vehicle. I love driving because it gives me the opportunity to explore and see the sights along the way — not to mention that I can forgo the 40 pound limit on luggage!
You Don’t Have to Be a Road Warrior to Master Stress-Free Travel
If there’s anything I’ve learned from these road warrior business experts, it’s that business trips are stressful. The key to eliminating stress is to have a process and a few secret hacks that keep you comfortable and moving from point A to point B.
My new secret hack is National Car Rental’s Emerald Club.
I first heard about the Emerald Club membership from a frequent traveler friend who told me I would love it — “It’s AMAZING!”, she said. “You just head straight to the rental car garage and pick up your car. No waiting at the desk, just go up to a car and drive away.”
On my recent trip to San Diego, I had my very first experience as an Emerald Club member. I have to admit that at first, I was apprehensive. I just couldn’t understand how you could just go to the rental car area, get into a car and leave. I mean how does that even work? How would they know that I’m not stealing the car?” I thought. All I can say is — it’s the magic of the National Rental Car App.
Download the App and Reserve Your Car in Minutes
About 30 days before my trip, I downloaded the National Rental Car app, registered as an Emerald Club member (which is free) and reserved a vehicle. The entire process took less than five minutes.
Grab Your Luggage and Head Straight to the Rental Car Garage
Wouldn’t it be great if every airport felt like home? You know, you land, head to baggage claim and then head to your car and drive away.
That’s exactly what happens when you’re an Emerald Club member. I have to admit I had my doubts. How do you “breeze through an airport” when you don’t know where anything is? Easy — the app tells you where to go.
The National Car Rental app integrates seamlessly with the GPS function on your phone and actually sends you directions and notifications as soon as you land at your destination.
In no time at all, I was at the National Rental section of the rental car area.
It’s OK — You Can Take Whatever Car You Want
I knew that I was supposed to walk up to any of the cars in the aisle and take one – but I couldn’t believe it. As I walked up to the aisle, there were people going ahead of me, picking out cars, putting their luggage inside and heading out.
I just stood there for a few minutes.
Finally, I walked up to the guy at the kiosk and said “I’m an Emerald Club member, can I just take a car?”
He looked at me like I was a little strange and nodded “Yes. You can take any of the cars in this aisle.”
Again, I felt a little shocked and uncomfortable. After all, it’s hard to break decades of conditioning to find a specific car.
It Took Longer to Choose a Car Than to Rent One
I must have spent at least 10 minutes strolling up and down the aisle, looking at the different options. In San Diego, all of the options were 4-door sedans. Nothing fancy. But I was determined to get the most out of the experience, so I strolled all the way down to the executive section.
Again, I experienced this pang of uncertainty, “Can I take one of these upgraded options?” Lucky for me, I ran into Brian, who didn’t have that problem. He’s a frequent traveling flight dispatcher and an Emerald Club member who says he saves about 10 minutes not waiting in line. When you travel as much as he does, that really adds up.
Within minutes, Brian was on his way. Not me.
I prefer to take some extra time to get familiar with the vehicle. It’s a safety thing. I want to set up the seats, mirrors, see where all the controls are and set up my GPS since I’ll be driving in unfamiliar territory.
With the safety set up completed, I was ready to hit the road.
Controlling Time is the Key to Stress-Free Business Travel
The best way to reduce travel stress is to give yourself the gift of TIME. That means not scheduling things back-to-back and giving yourself enough buffer time in between events. After all, there are many things that can happen that are beyond your control. Adding buffer time gives you that control that you need to keep a cool head during your business trip.
Here are all the places where you can add buffer time:
- Arrive the day before any meetings and events
- Take the first flight out. That way if it’s canceled or delayed, you still have time to make it.
- Use the National Car Rental App and Join Emerald Club – so you can breeze through the airport.
- Give yourself at least 30 additional minutes of drive time ( preferably an hour).
- Add buffer time by staying loyal to rental car companies and airlines.
Granted, you can’t control everything, but you can control your own schedule and your time. That last tip of adding buffer time by being loyal to brands was a new addition for me. Now that I’ve had the experience of being an Emerald Club member, I’m never doing anything else.