Any form of travel can be stressful. When it comes to business travel, regardless where you start from and where you’re going to, the pressure almost always seems to go up.
Things have to go well or else… Maybe it’s a partnership on the line? Or a big promotion might result if you can show the higher-ups what a great closer you are?
Preplanning is key to a more productive business trip. Without it, chaos ensues.
Here are 5 ways to make your next business trip more fantastically productive:
1. Plan as much of the meeting as you can before leaving.
“Insert task here.”
- Do you need to set up a place to meet and greet with everyone, such as a restaurant or hotel boardroom?
- Will the meeting(s) be catered in some way?
- Are you providing transportation to and from the meeting spot for certain attendees?
These and more are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pre-planning the meeting or meetings you’ll have. You’ll also need to get all or most of your supporting materials including powerpoints, handouts, and whatever else you plan to show and distribute ready.
Then there’s putting together an effective and time-managed meeting agenda. Nobody’s going to be happy, including you, if the meeting drags on because of poor planning. Planning the meeting in advance will make it move more quickly and cause less stress on you in the days leading up to it.
2. Make sure all travel arrangements are completed two days in advance (if possible!)
Hey, things might not work out that you have up to two days to get organized. In that case, you’ll have to fly by the seat a bit and just hope everything works out. However, when it comes to knowing you’re going to need to travel for business in the coming days or weeks, there’s just no good excuse why you can’t get everything arranged.
Problems can come up when it comes to hired planes, trains and automobiles. A flight to the States — Asia or Europe (or Brexit Territory!) might normally be available the last minute you need it, or it might not. Getting stuck in a stuffy airport, or having to rush straight from the train depot to your meeting isn’t the most productive way to spend your travel time, and maxes out your adrenaline reserves.
Then there’s the issue of money. Arranging in advance will almost always save you money than waiting til the last minute will.
3. Have all your travel documents organized and exactly where you can find them.
This one’s pretty simple.
- Passport and other forms of identity.
- Proof of vaccination.
- Plane, train, bus tickets.
- Reservation documentation.
Have everything put in a carry-on bag before you leave for the airport or station. You may not need all the items listed or you may require something that isn’t.
Just remember all the times you’ve seen someone in a suit rifling through their bag as they hold up the custom’s lineup at the airport — or anyone traveling anywhere desperately searching their pocket, bag, or purse to find some crucial paperwork they now find themselves without. Maybe that person was you?
We’re trying to NOT waste time. Get everything ready and the start of your trip will at least be somewhat bulletproof!
4. Confirm all the details before you go rather than “hoping” everything is still going according to plan.
- Call the airport, train or bus station before you leave for the airport or station to ensure there are no delays (things happen, you’re the customer and have a right to confirm as much as you like).
- Call the car service to make sure they’re on their way to pick you up instead of waiting around and hoping there are no delays (see above).
- Call your hotel before your departure to make sure no problems have arisen with your reservation since you last called to confirm (a pipe could have burst in the building rendering your room inhabitable).
- Call or text the key players in the meeting to make sure everyone’s on board and on schedule (things might have changed in their schedule or they might have something new to suggest for the meeting).
Email just creates an invitation to be ignored or put off. The key to an effective, productive business trip is for everything to go as smoothly and according to plan as possible. Don’t languish or be complacent.
5. Work while in transit.
Take a couple days off and visit the Keys, or the French Riviera for that matter — after the meeting’s over. While you’re on the plane or whatever mode of travel you’re taking, treat the trip like just another day at the office. If you’re traveling at night, maybe you’ll have to sleep. But, if you’re normally working at the time you travel, don’t allow a vacation mentality to set in and let you waste valuable “get things done” time.
Answer emails, deal with whatever you can to prevent getting overloaded after or between meetings. You’ll likely have Internet wherever you go, but even if you don’t you can still answer emails in advance and set them to send once you’re back in WiFi territory. You likely have lots to do, so stay productive and don’t get lazy!
Please share your best tips for a productive business trip in the comments.
Main Image Credit: Ashley/Flickr