Maximize Your Business Trip at 30,000 Feet
Whether you’re the occasional business traveler or your Medallion Status is VVS1 clarity, you know the nagging feeling and associated lack of productivity from the moment you check in all the way to baggage claim. Sometimes you may even spend more time above the clouds than actually executing business on the ground. Here are some ways to maximize that time in the air and on the ground while on business.
Prepare – As you would probably expect preparation is key, especially in business travel. And most of that preparation begins before you even step out your front door. A few years ago I arrived in San Diego for a big marketing conference. My second year there I was certain I had everything I needed, pocket squares and all, and this time I was ready to rewrite the book on networking. Only problem, I left my brand new box of freshly printed business cards somewhere back home, raised lettering, pale nimbus white and all. I spent the next three days bumming cards from my business partner, scratching his name off and hand writing mine. A terrible experience, all from my lack of preparation.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” And take it from him, he was probably the most well traveled American politician of his lifetime. Preparing a day in advance will put your mind at ease when you’re at 30,000 feet, and that’s the time you need to mentally prepare for your purpose of going. The essentials are obvious, but don’t forget items that can make life easier when situations arise. A portable phone charger in case an airplane outlet is broken and/or your phone is nearly dead. A passport, whether you’re flying international or domestic, just bring it. Keep it locked in the hotel room during your stay and keep a photo of your driver’s license, passport, visas, and credit cards locked on your smartphone or computer. This will save your life if you ever lose anything. And business cards, always bring more than enough.
As for luggage, never check your bag, ever. This may be difficult for a novice, and it may take a trip to Hartmann and a few extra minutes with TSA to get the hang of it, but you’ll rarely see a veteran business traveler hovering around Belt 6 from ATL waiting on their overnight bag. They’re always in and out. If you’re anticipating traveling for business often, you should apply for TSA Pre✓. Preparation is the key to increased efficiency, productivity and will save you time and money.
Indulge – Despite the inherent fatigue and the surface appearance of monotony, traveling for work can be quite invigorating. Encountering new settings and foreign environments can stimulate your mind, budding creativity and cognitive flexibility. Even on the plane there’s the opportunity to expand your network beyond the confines of your bubble back home. Never miss out on the chance to meet a new prospect, client, customer or even a friend sitting next to you. It’s likely he or she may be traveling for work as well, and you may never again have the chance to make an introduction.
As for the perks, this is the fun stuff that may be overlooked by the novice. Even though airlines have failed time and time again to provide exemplary customer service, overall they have the hospitality down to a science. Depending on your trip’s duration and route, you may find yourself touching down for a layover. Though many travelers find layovers to be a miserable waste of time, they don’t have to be. There are many ways to take advantage of them, short or long. Many popular airports offer a wide array of entertainment such as art galleries, gyms, massage parlors, salons and dining and shopping at every corner.
If you’re really wanting to get away from the hostile crowds to enjoy an oasis of comfort and support, and if you have a few hours to spare, check into your airline’s private lounge. Whether you’re a member or not, most offer day passes for a reasonable rate, and the perks easily outweigh the costs. Many offer open food and drink bars, premium entertainment such as movies and live music, very comfortable seating, internet and dedicated work spaces, even hot showers and bath products to reinvigorate that dried out skin from the 4 hours of recirculated air on your last leg. This is a great place to relax and feel renewed on a layover, which will better prepare you for business once you’re grounded at your final destination. It can also give you a better chance of catching up on the work or sleep you may desperately need.
Embrace – For some, traveling for work is exciting, for others it’s daunting, it’s all about perspective. If you embrace the traveling work life then overall it’ll surely be a rewarding experience. A breakaway from the mundane workweek, an opportunity to get out of the office and out of town, to take in new surroundings and to meet new people from different walks of life, there’s an excitement to jet-setting on the clock. If you’re traveling frequently and not taking advantage of the perks, you need to get with the program, or programs literally. From points, miles and status to freebies and upgrades, perks not only come with the frequent flying, they make it so much more fun!
Loyalty pays, and sticking with the same airline can pay you back in those points or miles and can earn you a lot of cool benefits, but they’re not only earned by flying. You can stack the miles many different ways, from credit card offers and usage to certain dining and retail spending, even certain hotel stays can pile them up. There’s also a variety of ways to spend them too. From merchandise and gifts to free flights, lounge access and upgrades, there’s a strategy to the madness of miles and the more you’re traveling, the more you’ll learn about the many ways to stretch those miles. Even staying loyal to a specific hotel brand, you can find opportunities for special treatment. Forget the fruit baskets and champagne, I’m talking about complimentary suite upgrades, tickets to shows, spa treatments, personal concierge service, premium transport, exclusive fine dining, hotel club lounge access and much more. If you’re going to be on the go for work, you might as well do it in comfort and in style. Embrace the luxury that can come with it.
As you’re en route to your next business destination, take a moment to realize how fortunate you are. To the travel industry frequent business travelers are a rich asset, and whether it’s an airline, rental car company or hotel, they’re all vying for your loyalty. This is why it’s a win win for you, so work it in your favor and enjoy yourself by reaping in the benefits. Also take advantage of the opportunities to venture out while on business trips. During your downtime check out the sights of the city you’re visiting. Take a chance at some local cuisine and meet some local folks who can show you around, there’s nothing wrong with playing tourist as long as you’re not sporting a fanny pack. Instead of an impediment, consider traveling for work an opportunity for growth, not only professionally but personally as well. And at the end of it all, just be thankful you’re working!