With the introduction of new technology, apps and travel habits, business travel has changed to meet the needs and interests of jet setters today. As habits and trends evolve, travelers make mistakes and thus learn how to be more efficient and cost effective.
Not buying that business travel has changed? Consider this. A Hipmunk Survey on millennial travel found that 74% of millennials have stayed at a vacation rental (such as those available through Airbnb) on a business trip , an experience shared by just 38% of Generation X and 20% of boomers. The idea of staying in a vacation type rental for work travel would have been completely foreign 10-15 years ago.
Traveling habits have most certainly changed. With this change brings a natural tendency to bump into challenges that may or may not have been a problem in the past.
Here’s a list of mistakes to avoid when traveling for work.
Using Traditional Security Lines for Frequent Travel
Paying for TSA pre-check can deliver a great return on your investment. The more you travel the better the return, so for Road Warriors this is a no-brainer.
Millennials are at the forefront of this trend. The Hipmunk Survey found that 31% of millennials say they will use Clear or TSA pre-check resources this year , as compared to 24% of Generation X and 23% of baby boomers.
Not Following Company Travel Policies
A company’s official travel policy was created for complex reasons, many of which go way past just getting the lowest rate. There are often corporate discount contracts to fulfill, where not having enough room nights at a particular property might mean the entire company would lose access to the discounted rate. Your decision to book a hotel across the street because it was $10 cheaper could cost your company a thousand dollars over the course of a year.
Not only should you be checking company travel policies for preferred hotels and airlines, but you should learn what fees and expenses are able to be reimbursed by the company, otherwise you may end up paying for expenses you didn’t plan to cover.
Booking Last Minute
Don’t wait until last minute to book your flight. Not only is the flight more expensive, but your seating options may be limited to less than desirable seats, unless you have status with the airline. If you are worried you are booking too early and don’t have all the necessary details for your trip, you have some flexibility at time of booking.
Flights booked within three days of departure are 47% more expensive booked over two weeks in advance.
High costs for flights tend to flag alerts to management and financial audits within most companies. In order to avoid having to explain yourself, do your best to plan ahead and keep costs low.
Missing Out on Travel Rewards
Depending upon your company policies, you may be leaving many travel rewards on the table if you don’t earn credit card rewards. Even companies that require you to use a corporate card may sometimes allow you to link a personal card to your corporate card for rewards. Call your card provider and check corporate policies to find out what is allowed.
“Definitely get a credit card for business travel and don’t be afraid to use points for travel,” said Wendi Weiner, owner of The Writing Guru, a career and personal branding business. “I just booked a first-class ticket on American Airlines with points.”
If you are self-employed, having a business travel rewards card is essential and can help you reach your goals faster. Also, don’t miss out on rewards that come from staying loyal to an airline or hotel chain as you plan your trips.
Not Preparing for The Worst
If you don’t plan for the worst possible scenario when traveling, you run the risk of having a REALLY BAD DAY when delays and cancellations do happen. Caca occurs and planning for the worst puts you in a better position to minimize the effect of a disruption.
“I always assume that my flight is going to be delayed so I make sure my phone and computer are always fully charged,” said Arash Shirazi, CEO & Co-Founder of The Bullitt Agency, a music management agency. “I pack my own meals and always have healthy snacks like almonds, Rx bars, crackers and a bottle of water.”
On this same note, avoid checking a bag and bring only a carry on if you can. Checking your bag exposes you to the vulnerability of clothes and toiletries getting lost, just when you need them the most.
Another good plan is to have technology ready to quickly react when your flight is cancelled. Ask your agency about subscribing to Flight Alerts which can open a dialogue with your agent the instant your flight is cancelled so you can jump to the front of the line that will quickly be forming at the gate. Your agent can often have you rebooked before others on your flight even know there is a problem.
Forgetting to Plan for International Challenges
If you have never traveled internationally or rarely do, remembering a few things about being abroad can ease challenges when you arrive.
“Being able to communicate once you get to your destination is paramount,” said Chrissy Horansky, author and global advocate for women and girls. “If you are traveling internationally, make sure to bring a power adapter for all your electronics. Call your cell provider ahead of time to check what rates are as well as ensure that your phone will work abroad. Your bank also needs to know ahead of time that you are traveling so it can authorize purchases.
Avoiding Opportunities to Network
As crazy as it sounds, airports are an excellent place to network, even if it’s by accident. If you do end up connecting with someone who may have an opportunity for you or vice versa, don’t get caught looking like you are dressed for the beach instead of the board room.
Don’t dress too casually on an airplane, you never know who you will meet. It can be a great place to network. Just just be careful you don’t become a chatty passenger!
Misplacing Your Car or Hotel Room Number
As funny as it sounds, if you are on the road often, you may find yourself in a situation where you forget where you parked your car or you may forget your hotel room number. This has been known to happen with folks who stay in many hotels a week and month, especially when they are staying at the same chain and the decor is similar at each hotel.
“Take a picture of your parking info so you find your car when you return,” said Wes Gay, a Marketing Consultant. “Otherwise you wander aimlessly. It took me too long to do this.”
Making Your Trip All Work and No Play
Have you heard of bleisure travel? The concept of expanding a business trip to include leisure activities is not necessarily a new idea, but is definitely growing in popularity, especially among millennials.
The Hipmunk Survey found that 81% of millennials will probably add extra time to a business trip in the next year, as compared to 56% and 46% of Generation X and boomers respectively. Often times a bleisure trip simply means adding an extra day or half day to a business trip in order to see local sites or family and friends. This can go a long way for employee satisfaction.
Companies are beginning to tout their corporate travel program as a perk and benefit to attract top talent and use it in their retention efforts. The evolving employer-employee relationship is driving the need to give employees more choice and control over how they travel.
Whether you needed reassurance that TSA pre-check is worth the money spent or simply picked up a couple tips that will lower your stress next time you hit the road for work, we hope you took some insights away from the mistakes other business travelers have made.