Business Travel 101

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Guidelines & Tips You Should Endorse

by Jaelynn Fisher

Not long ago, I was reading a Q&A written by someone who was working in a corporate job that required a business trip. They wrote that they had never traveled much, let alone internationally, so their company “assigned” someone to assist them with the nuances of travel: arranging airfare, managing airport check-in, navigating TSA regulations and security screenings, and traveling in a foreign country.

This person was in the middle of their career, had few opportunities to fly throughout their lifetime, and had never traveled outside of the United States. Which got me thinking… how many people in our industry are in this same position? How many planners only plan domestic or regional events, never leaving their local vicinity? How many planners solely book third-party rooms and never step foot onsite until it’s time for a career change or a big life event?

With the world moving so rapidly today and rules and regulations changing almost faster than the updates can be published, it’s helpful to offer some tips to those who might not be as familiar as the road-warriors who, by contrast, spend more days in their car and hotel rooms than they do in their own homes.

Enroll in TSA PreCheck

If you plan on becoming a frequent traveler, save yourself time and frustration going through security. TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening process; once enrolled, your authorization is valid for five years and recognized at all airports that accept PreCheck nationwide. You can avoid having to remove liquid items and your laptop from your carry-on, you can keep your shoes, belt, and light jacket on as you walk through screening, and children ages 12 and under are able to accompany their parent or guardian through the PreCheck line through screening. Children ages 13-17 must be on the same airline reservation as their parent or guardian to be allowed entering the TSA PreCheck line.

However, you want to ensure that prior to airport arrival your PreCheck number is correctly added to the airline app and your mobile or printed boarding pass. If you are using a third-party app to book your travel (such as Expedia or Travelocity), if you’ve never used the airline previously, or if your company is booking your travel, always double-check to ensure that this—as well as your personal information—has been entered correctly.  Any information that has been added incorrectly will result in you needing to check-in at the airline’s desk and having it re-entered. In addition, if you forget to look for this checkmark on your boarding pass and just assume you have it, this could result in a huge time delay. Depending on how you travel, this could result in you missing your flight.

Update Your Travel Apps

Make sure everything is updated the day before you expect to leave.  Developers will push critical security updates out frequently but if you don’t have “auto-update” turned on, this could result in you not having the app ready and available when you need it. This includes the airline’s app (like Southwest), the hotel’s app (think Hilton or Travelocity), the conference’s app, your transportation app (like Lyft) or, if you are renting a car, their app and the map app (Hertz or Turo plus Waze or Google Maps), your email and communication apps (Outlook and Messenger or WhatsApp), your receipt apps (like Concur), and any Microsoft/Apple apps to get your work done.

An added note about the airline apps: Many are now “cash free,” meaning all of your apps will function as the boarding pass, check-in, and payment process. If you wish to upgrade your seat, purchase WiFi, purchase a snack or drink, etc., you must first make sure the app is updated and then have a current card stored on file through the app.

Register Your Trip

Are you leaving the country for this trip? Visit www.state.gov and register your trip with the Department of Homeland Security. (Click <Travelers>, <Enroll in the “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program”> to register your trip.) With things becoming increasingly crazier these days, it’s always best to notify someone of your location should something volatile happen.

Should something happen, the Secretary of State will know how many US citizens are in a location based on that report, making it easier to locate and rescue people. It’s also recommended to add the emergency phone number to your cell phone and leave this information with someone at home.

Make a Physical Copy

Speaking of notifying someone, make copies of all of your travel documents, confirmation numbers, and your trip information. This information should include hours of availability (of the hotel, of a nearby pharmacy, of a ride service, of the nearest hospital, etc.). It should also include your agenda and event information (what you are attending, who the organizer is, how to get in touch with them, etc.), your flight itinerary, a copy of your passport/ID, and copies of your list of medications and the name of your primary care physician. Leave a printed copy behind with someone you trust. You should also bring a physical copy with yourself and keep it on you as needed, as well as a list of printed contact phone numbers in case your phone dies.

In case your belongings are lost, you can have them fax/email you a copy while you wait on obtaining replacements. If your technology doesn’t work (no cell phone service, apps don’t open, etc.) your emergency contact can provide you with the information you need. You should never be in a position where you don’t know where you are going, you don’t speak the language, and you have no way to get in touch with anyone. You should be able to call at least one person through knowing their number by heart.

Keep Your “Need” Items With You

Pack an emergency set of items as a carry-on or backpack. This should be separate from your purse or briefcase and any regular luggage outside of these items, in case it gets lost.

This should include: spare cash—enough to get you a hotel room, a meal, and a ride to where you are going in a tight situation; your laptop and charger, cell phone charger (and international adapter), copy of all the documents above, a change of clothes for business and personal events, a change of shoes, a portable battery, and any “need” items that can’t be lost: personal medications, contacts/glasses, important work items/documents, and a set of travel toiletries.

None of these tips will make travel more enjoyable, but it will make your next trip less chaotic and much smoother.

 

MEET

Jaelynn Fisher is a contributing writer from St. Louis.

For 20+ years, the MEET family of products have provided regional and national resources that have kept corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant vendors, industry news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their group business.

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