5 Common Mistakes of New Business TravelersBy Jeanne Hopkins
Don't make these five common mistakes as a new business traveler.
With experience comes wisdom. But as a new business traveler, you can gain from the experience of others before you even set off on your first trip. And that means you can avoid typical rookie mistakes. You’ll save time, hassle and frustration. You may be new to this, but you can make an impression that says “seasoned professional.”
Beware of these 5 mistakes that new business travelers commonly make:
1. Blowing off your company’s official travel policies
You’re traveling at the behest, and on behalf, of your company so you’d better be clear on what “business travel” means to your employer. Read the corporate travel policy and follow it. It will explain what’s allowed in the way of booking and spending, the booking process (and how to use the company’s online booking tool), and how to go about submitting your expenses for reimbursement. Most companies create a simple one-page summary that makes it easier to remember key points.
Make sure you understand what to do if you have a problem while traveling. That might be anything from a delayed or canceled flight to a personal emergency. If your company uses Lola.com to manage business travel, you’ll be able to get immediate assistance to fix your problem, 24/7. That should give you extra confidence as a new business traveler, and you’ll come to appreciate it because the unpredictability of business travel is maybe the only predictable part about it.
P.S. — Even if it isn’t written into your company’s travel policy, behave like a professional. Whatever the purpose of your trip, you’re there to do business and that won’t go well if you’re hungover and late for an appointment or treat others with disrespect. Make your Mom proud, and you’ll make your boss proud, too.
2. Packing a suitcase you have to check
And why did you have to check your bag? Because you packed too much! This is the most common (and one of the worst) mistakes new business travelers make. Stick to a carry-on (and use a business travel backpack as your personal item), and you can kiss baggage check-in, fees, and the destination carousel goodbye. You’ll save time on your first trip and every business trip thereafter. And you’ll never fret about losing your luggage.
Road warriors know the value of efficiency, so they create a comprehensive business travel checklist that notes everything they might need when traveling for business. Then, they create a trip-specific packing list by picking the relevant necessities from their checklist. Once you learn to pack like a business pro, you’ll be able to travel light with never a worry about leaving anything you need behind.
Pro-tip: buy good quality carry-on luggage to reliably protect your clothes and other gear.
3. Ignoring TSA Pre-Check
Perhaps you’ve never heard of Pre-Check. But unless you really look forward to shuffling forward along the security line at the pace of a snail, finally achieving the dubious opportunity to remove your shoes and half the contents of your bag for inspection, make a point to sign up for TSA Pre-Check. For an $85 fee, this program conducts a background check, and once your application is approved you can head straight to TSA’s much shorter and faster Pre-Check security line. Your approval is good for five years.
4. Leaving rewards miles and points on the table
When done right, loyalty rewards are like free money. Future discounts or upgrades or exclusive opportunities can be yours, if only you invest a few seconds signing up for these programs. Even if you already belong to some loyalty clubs, make darn sure you will be earning points with every airline, hotel chain or car rental company that your employer uses for business travel. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Think of it as your reward for being a smart business traveler.
5. Be prepared to rock the business side of your trip
It’s worth noting again that the point of business travel is to help your company in some way. This first time, perhaps you’re attending a conference. In a year or two, you might be presenting at that conference. Meanwhile, you could be jet-setting to close deals, strengthen client relationships, and investigate new marketing opportunities.
Even more important than deciding which clothing and in-flight necessities to take, you’ll want to be sure you head out armed with all the appropriate business related necessities. You know, your laptop and other devices, cords and chargers, your presentation materials . . . Aren’t you glad you created that comprehensive business travel checklist?