In 2017, global business travel expenditure tipped the scales at $1.3 trillion. Estimates have that number climbing to $1.7 trillion by 2022. The top two reasons 76% of business travelers give for taking to the skies are to meet with customers and visit out-of-town offices.
Traveling may be time-consuming and costly. But there is a good reason why your boss keeps doing it! Face-to-face interactions have been found to be 34 times more persuasively powerful than remote, text-based conversations.
What does this mean for you as an executive assistant?
It means that the future holds a lot of travel for your boss and you need to become an expert at creating a positive travel experience. Crafting a well-thought-out plan is the best way to accomplish this.
Review your company travel policy
Before you start planning any business trips, you must know the company travel guidelines. Reviewing these will save you valuable planning time and ensure your boss is not stuck paying for unapproved travel-related expenses.
Create a travel planning dossier
Peter Drucker, a management consultant, educator, and author said, “Action without planning is the cause of every failure.”
A travel planning dossier contains forms, checklists, and templates that streamline the planning process and ensure that important travel planning details are not overlooked. It should include the following items:
Traveler profile form
This is a record of your traveler’s details and travel preferences. It should be updated regularly and kept both online and offline. It includes the following information:
- name and address
- company title and employee number
- passport details including expiration dates
- any visas held including their expiration dates
- health document records
- frequent flyer and loyalty program numbers
- credit card details
- airline, hotel, and car rental preferences
- special meal requirements
Planning intake form
This document provides the who, where, when, what and how answers about the upcoming trip to facilitate a smooth planning process. This form also indicates any variations to preferences noted in the profile form.
Planning check-off list
Travel planning has many moving parts. A planning check-off list helps you track what you’ve done and what remains outstanding.
-An itinerary ties together all the travel arrangements you’ve made, often in the form of a travel planning spreadsheet. It should include the following details:
- travel dates, flight confirmation numbers, check-in times, flight numbers and times
- name and address of all departure and arrival airports plus the terminal numbers
- all departure and arrival transportation details
- hotel name, address, and telephone and reservation number
- names and contact numbers of the trip’s hosts
- travel partners names and contact numbers
- meeting or event information including time, location, attendees and any preparation notes
- local currency exchange rate for international trips
- daily weather patterns
- local etiquette, dress code, tipping advice etc.
- emergency contact information
- any activities that may disrupt travel
- entertainment and dining suggestions
- all other relevant and applicable information
Travel info pack template
– What your boss needs to have with them will vary based on the purpose of the trip and the destination. A travel info pack helps prepare them for each journey and ensures nothing gets forgotten.
Build a network of travel contacts
If your boss travels frequently and extensively, there will be times when you’re going to need a hand making travel arrangements. As a corporate travel planner, getting to know employees at any stage of the booking process may provide you with a valuable relationship for when things don’t run smoothly.
It may help to know and consult a travel agent for complicated trips and international destinations. When your boss is going to a familiar destination, you can easily save money by booking it yourself. A travel agent you’ve developed a good relationship may even share tips on how to do this well.
Take advantage of online travel planning tools and resources
The internet offers a variety of tools and resources that you can use to plan business travel with ease. Here are a few of them:
- TripIt – creates a master itinerary accessible on mobile devices using your traveler’s flight, hotel, and rental car confirmation details.
- TripAdvisor– review other travelers’ opinions to make an informed decision about different travel aspects.
- SafarPass – book flights and hotels and automate expenses on-the-go via a single aggregate app. This can really help when booking multiple hotels or flights in one trip.
- Dayuse– find hotels you can use for a few hours during the day.
- SeatGuru– helps you pick the best seat on the plane.
- FlightStats – know where your traveler is while inflight using real-time flight status information.
Consider buying refundable tickets
Business travel is synonymous with change. Buying unrestricted tickets gives you hassle-free flexibility to react accordingly. These types of tickets are more expensive, but they can save the company money when you factor in the costs attached to cancellations and changes.
Simplify expense reporting
The trip is not over until expenses are submitted. There are many apps, like SafarPass, which can make scanning expense receipts a pain-free activity. These can then be managed alongside your travel expenses and itinerary in one place.
Keep in mind the reason for executive travel
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States was visiting the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) headquarters. A tour of the facility led him past a janitor mopping the floor. Following introductions, the President asked the janitor what his role at NASA was.
“I’m helping put a man on the moon,” he replied.
When it comes to planning business travel, you’re not just getting your boss from point A to point B. You’re helping them create and nurture business relationships that keep the company successful. Never lose sight of that.