How To Organize a Business Trip Efficiently
Even if the health crisis has forced us to reconsider, for a moment, our way of exchanging and running our business, business travel has remained for decades an unparalleled way of creating proximity that even the media cannot offer.
Whether it is to negotiate with suppliers or customers, meet with collaborators, or participate in trade shows in one's field, the FOMO (fear of missing out) phenomenon makes business travel inevitable for today's companies (find out more about some reasons for business travel in this article).
Business travel represents a significant source of success and revenue for the company, but it also generates costs and requires a sometimes tedious organization.
To properly manage the complexities of business travel, usually through the Travel Manager (learn more in this article on the Travel Manager), some prior organization is required.
Organizing a business trip goes through different crucial steps that we will detail below.
Contextualize/set the framework for employee travel
Before embarking on the organization of a business trip, it is advisable to ask yourself several questions to situate your trip in terms of different aspects.
Why are we traveling? Is this trip essential?
Asking this question is important from an organizational point of view, but also the point of view of the company's social responsibility. Business travel was instantly halted in 2020 at the time of the health crisis and alternative meetings were set up. Identifying unavoidable trips becomes a lever to avoid unnecessary trips and thus allows to drastically reduce the carbon emissions of its company, and contribute positively to its CSR strategy (find the best companies for carbon offsetting in this article).
What is the purpose of this trip? What is the objective of the trip?
Trade shows, meetings, appointments, whatever the reason for your trip, the important thing is to put into words the reasons and the framework in which this business trip is taking place. It is generally the company that sets the framework for a trip by placing its expectations on this one. Asking your company for as much information as possible is essential to preparing your trip well.
What is the destination?
Whether it is a hot or cold country, European or international, you must get to know the destination to do some research. Taking an interest in the customs, traditions, time difference, means of transportation or the local currency must be a priority in the organization. To prepare before booking anything, it is important to get the classic information on the destination country to avoid making any organizational mistakes.
How much time should I spend on this trip?
Traveling to the south of France and the United States does not require you to leave for the same amount of time. Saving more money by reducing travel time will usually be rewarded by the company. Thinking about travel time, consolidating appointments into one day, or leaving the day before, all actively contribute to saving time and money for you and your company.
What is the potential budget?
Knowing the time, the destination, and the importance of the trip will generally allow you to quickly calculate the budget you will have to allocate to this business trip. Offering a price estimate to your company is a sign of confidence. By making sure you are well-informed about the terms and conditions of expense claims, and by potentially arming yourself with a centralization tool (learn more in this article), budget management should not be a problem.
Make a plan
Leaving with peace of mind requires an almost military organization of your business trip. Avoiding unforeseen events and setting up a schedule by creating a roadmap will allow you to ensure the quality of each trip.
Define your objectives
To create a schedule, it is essential to define the objectives of the trip. Knowing what the company expects from us allows us to prioritize certain appointments and take more time for them.
Anticipate your absence from the office
A business trip means an absence from the office. Especially in the case of a last-minute trip, it is advisable to anticipate your absence as much as possible by informing your colleagues and by rescheduling appointments already scheduled during the days of the trip. It is strongly recommended to reorganize your schedule beforehand by scheduling your usual internal meetings via videoconference.
Optimize your agenda by confirming your appointments
Talking about a potential meeting around date is one thing, but planning your appointments in a formal and organized way is essential for the smooth running of a business trip. It is advisable to contact your appointments and to contact them again just before departure for yet another confirmation. Depending on his schedule, and in an opportunistic way, you can also contact potential customers or suppliers located in the same sector to agree on a time slot and to make the most of his stay.
Anticipate the logistics at the destination to gain serenity
Time is a rare commodity during our trips. By listing the different appointments and taking into account the different trips to be made during the day, there is little chance of being overwhelmed. The best thing is to have the choice of the place for each meeting and to establish these meeting points so as not to have to cross the city several times. Calculating your time remains an unstoppable weapon in the organization of a business trip.
Choosing your means of transportation
Although this step can be considered relatively easy, responsible travel policies nowadays push us to think carefully about the means of transportation we intend to use for our trip (discover the steps to reach carbon neutrality in our business trips in this article).
Rarely in the first choices, the car appears as the means of transport to be privileged if you make a relatively short trip in France. Whether you use a company car or your car (in which case you should keep track of the kilometers driven), this choice will allow you to gain efficiency and potentially in CO2 consumption if you choose to travel by carpooling.
Traveling by train can save precious time, especially for a trip to France or to neighboring countries well served by this mode of transportation. Studying prices and schedules will allow you to make an initial selection, but you should also take into account the flexibility, cancellation, or modification options in case of unforeseen events. Being flexible in your approach (by finally leaving a day earlier, etc.) allows you to make considerable savings on a trip. In addition, it is important to pay attention to the journey between your home and the departure station (especially in large cities with several stations) and between the arrival station and the meeting point.
Although air travel is less common at the national level, it is the fastest way to get to an appointment in another city. The time required for security checks following the pandemic may nevertheless counterbalance this speed. Also, be careful to pay attention to your company's travel policies, which generally require you to use the train or car for travel.
Transportation in the country
Whether it is the bus, the cab, or the subway, each country has its specificities in terms of public transportation. It is therefore essential to find out about local transportation options for transfers from the airport (beware of travel time, as airports are rarely located near the city center), for travel between different appointments and to get to the hotel without spending 2 hours in the subway.
Whether it is for the plane or the train, it is essential to study the different possibilities available to us in terms of time, money, and simplicity. Anticipating your reservations and being flexible on the date of departure or return generally allows you to save money (we tell you more in this article). By using digital tools allowing you to compare trains and planes for the same trips according to predefined economic or ecological criteria, you will gain in speed and efficiency.
Book the accommodation
The choice of accommodation is strategic. It must respect various essential factors and is part of the smooth running of a business trip.
Take into account the company's policies and agreements
Some companies choose to impose hotel or accommodation chains in their travel policies based on the agreements and links they have with these chains. It is essential to book accommodations that are in line with these policies. You should also pay attention to the loyalty programs that the company has (for example, the Accor loyalty program) to provide the card numbers at the time of booking. If the company does not have any points concerning accommodation in its policies, you will have to look at the scores of the pre-selected establishments and compare prices and quality of service intelligently.
Take into account travel time
Finding the relationship between the different appointments in terms of geolocation is essential before launching the reservation of accommodation. Juggling the different meeting addresses and the location of the airport allows you to find the most convenient hotel for the whole duration of your business trip (and not only for the first meeting).
Pay attention to the options
Luggage management service, check-in and check-out times, breakfast time slot... Today, establishments offer different options that are important to consider, on the one hand, to avoid extra costs and on the other hand to save you time.
Make a list of essential documents
Forgetfulness happens quickly and can ruin a scheduled business trip, so it is important to make a list of essential documents before each departure. Digitizing all your documents represents a possible alternative in case of loss on the spot and becomes important for regular travelers.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the main documents not to forget and to digitize:
- Valid identity document (ID or passport)
- Airline or train tickets
- VISA in case of international travel (find out how to apply right here).
- Business cards
Use a digital travel agency
Every business trip requires a lot of organization. This organization has a price and generally makes employees lose a lot of time. Fortunately, it is now possible to use a digital travel agency to help you in this laborious organization.
Several criteria should be taken into account when choosing your tool (which you will also find in detail in this article):
- Expert assistance 24/7
- Centralized invoicing of trips
- The possibility to book a door-to-door trip
- Autonomous management for each traveler
- A system of control and approval of the trips
- The implementation of a true travel companion
- An intuitive and intelligent platform
Organizing a business trip is certainly not an easy task, but it is largely achievable if you apply these different tips for your company. Leaving with a light heart and continuing to be productive during your business trips requires this quasi-military planning. But organizing trips alone will never be worth the contribution of an adapted and intelligent tool in the management of business trips.
Other related articles you might like:
- Applying the four D's to reduce your business trip volume
- How to ensure your employees are safe
- Checklist: How to plan business trips during Covid