The untold dark truth of business travel - it is one of the most stressful aspects of work-life! It may look glamorous and extravagant to an outsider, but ask any corporate executive, who's always on the road, they'll reveal the painful side of travel.
Expectations Vs Reality:
Earlier, when organizations sent executives on client visits, things were generally pre-booked for them. Right from a flight ticket to a hotel, things were taken care of by the backend team. The executives were just expected to carry the documents, meet the respective client, and close the deal and return. Things were indeed easy and hassle-free back then. Fast forward to the present-day, the travel arrangement scenario has changed starkly. With outsourcing and on-site placements on the rise, the demand for corporate travel has increased multi-folds. Now, there are too many executives traveling at the same time on different official missions.
This immediate need calls for a separate team that would solely be responsible for such tasks. However, most companies, especially small and medium enterprises consider it an unnecessary cost to the organization. Quite fair! Now the onus has mostly shifted to executives themselves to arrange things to meet their requirements for the business trip. The company is ready to bear the cost but not get into the hassles of arranging it. Executives who are already under pressure to perform and deliver work on time are now expected to sit and spend their valuable time booking flights /hotels for the trip. Thus, being ready for unavoidable problems during travel is part of the job.
Here's a list of some undodgeable problems faced by business travellers, with ways to overcome them.
Acquiring Flight Deals at the Nick of Time
Overbooked flights, high priced tickets, unavailability of business class seats are some usual problems that pop up when it comes to flight deals. No matter what the reasons are, the concern is to reach the destination safely, comfortably and on-time.
Supposedly a situation arises, where you receive a last-minute email from a meeting, requesting your presence for a business proposition. You certainly reply with an affirmative not thinking about the next. However, the real challenge comes when you try to book a flight in the nick of time. The unavailability of seats could be a nightmare in such situations. You know a commitment is a commitment, or else the company would lose a good deal. Anything could happen. Moreover, you have your reputation at stake.
A frequent flyer can avoid such a situation. Having an airline premium card or a subscription to an airline reward plan program makes you eligible for loyalty treatment in such urgencies. Not just that, as a member you are entitled to the best available deals.
The unfortunate others do not give up hope, there are still ways to find that last seat to take you to your destination:
- Spare some time and do some thorough research. Let go of that desired business seat and consider budget carriers. Google up sites that can help you find cheap tickets, compare and provide you the best deals.
- Be flexible, put in that extra effort and reconsider a flight at an airport that is outside the city. Break journeys can be cheaper when there is a lack of options with a time crunch.
- For the lucky ones having a reward credit card, use the earned bonus points to pay for the next available flight. Try upgrading your experience later if there is an availability of seats.
- Reach out to a travel agent if it's too urgent.
Be ready to make a few sacrifices in order to reach your destination when the options are less. Once you have booked the flight, even against your preferences, try planning for a better stay than focusing too much on the journey. Read more on ‘stay’ below.
Flight Delays and Ways to Utilize Time
Flight delays are inevitable. Blame it on the weather or the engine, you have to bear with it. A smart way to avoid flight delays is to book flights much ahead of the meeting. This is to ensure that in case the booked flight gets delayed for some reason, you will still be on time to board the next flight and reach your destination. The other advantage is, you get to take some rest and prepare yourself before heading for the work. However, things may not look easy as said. What if you are at the airport and the respective airline announces a flight delay? Be prepared to remain stuck at the airport for some time. But utilize the time well:
- Start with all the important calls to update your seniors, colleagues or subordinates of the problem at hand. Delegate duties to the respective person to ensure there is no delay in your absence.
- Know your rights well. Make sure to check the airline compensation policies and rules so that you can be firm when claiming compensation. While airlines will not compensate you for delays caused by weather calamities and riots, but you will have an upper hand if it’s a technical issue on the airline end.
- Contact the airline directly or reach out to the agent at the service desk to know the status of the delay and the procedures to get checked-in baggage. If you have a connecting flight, the information will help you decide when to re-book the flight and how to charge them for a refund.
- If you are a travel insurance holder, you can call the agents for help for rebooking a flight and finding accommodations in case of a delay.
- While you are getting the above done, find some ways to relax, rest and keep yourself motivated. While the worry to reach the destination may be ticking at the back of your mind, utilize the time to get around, explore, have food and drinks, and steal a quick nap. Set an alarm so you don’t have to worry about missing the next flight.
- In case you are a business class traveler, utilize business passes/tickets to gain access to the airport lounge to relax better. These business class lounges are equipped with better facilities and ensure a pleasant wait time.
- Have your kindle handy, download an audiobook or an off-line book, to give you some intellectual company. Utilize the time to listen to webinars or podcasts. A good listen could be Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson by Dell Technologies.
- While it's understood you are too busy dealing with the problem at hand, on the other hand, this could be the best time to indulge in some relaxation. Hop into the airport wellness spa for a quick foot rub, body massage, body scrub, body wrap or a reflexology session.
- Practice mindfulness- a very important aspect ignored by busy executives, especially by those who travel. It not only brings calmness within but also helps focus better. A minimum of 15-20 minutes is enough to rejuvenate self.
Getting Through Security Smoothly
Having so much to remember at the last moment, it's likely that you may forget your IDs somewhere. Nothing can be more frustrating and embarrassing than reaching the airport premise and not being able to show the ID or passport. Your ID is definitely the most important thing when leaving for the destination. If you are the kind who frequently forgets things or panics when there's a flight to catch, best is to keep important docs in a predesignated place. Be it, installing a reminder app and feeding the travel checklist in it, or, briefing Siri/Alexa/ Google Home, to give continuous reminders when leaving for the trip. These days’ smart techs are smarter than you think. It will not let you down. Also, it’s a good practice to keep a digital copy handy of all your IDs in your email so that you can download it in a moment’s notice.
Additionally, cross-check the list of restricted items on the flight. You don’t want to be caught with unwanted items on a business trip. Also, knowing what to carry where is important. Refer respective flight guidelines for a list of permitted items.
Dealing with misplaced luggage
Baggage getting lost or misplaced is nothing new. Though this not might be your fault, quick action is required on it. File a report with the airline authority immediately, lost baggage can usually take from a few hours to days to be retrieved by the airline team. Of course, you would be compensated with an amount, but if the bag contains important documents, it's you who has to take the blame.
The best way to avoid such occurrences is to ensure you carry the most important items in your handbag. Tagging your bags with your name & contact info is very important too as it will help the airline to easily track the luggage.
If everything fails, contact the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. Lastly, if you’re wondering where lost bags end up, here’s your answer Unclaimedbaggage.com.
Tackling with Disappointing Hotel Rooms
Checking reviews, comparing prices, asking friends for references are some basic undertakings expected of you when booking a hotel, and it’s obvious you have taken care of it well. However, in many unfortunate cases, when you land at the location, it turns out to be different from the picture you have come across online.
Losing temper is natural, but on second thought the situation actually demands you to stay calm. Remember, it's a time of crisis. You have work that requires more attention, leaving not much time to look for a new place. Reach out to the staff or manager in a respectful manner, yes respectful manner, and report about what's all bothering you. Ask them how they could get it fixed. These days' hotels are very considerate in case of corporate booking as they wouldn't like to lose a potential client. To be on the safe side, and if possible, try carrying personal toiletries, an extra towel, wet tissues, slipper, especially if you are particular about cleanliness or prone to allergies. It will help in such situations as you may be skeptical about using hotel goods.
Another good way to ensure an assured good stay is opting for hotels and inns that promises “ Good night's sleep guarantee”.
Remedies for Ill Health
Illnesses are evident when the journey is hectic. Staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet, taking timely naps at least a week before the journey, can help you overcome fatigue at the time of the journey. International journeys can drain you out, not to forget jet lags. Harsh climatic changes can affect badly. Carry important medicines along with the prescriptions and extras. In spite of enjoying good health, you may come up with unwanted irritations due to climatic changes. Furthermore, set up flight meal preferences to avoid allergens.
Those prone to severe allergic reactions should bag anti-allergic medicines, like - EpiPen, Cetirizine, etc. as doctors might not be available on immediate notice.
Another precautionary alternative is, having travel insurance. This will help cover medical expenses if any, when on the trip.
A piece of very important advice, though disregarded by many, is to have basic knowledge of pharmacies of the place you are visiting. Yes, there is always an option to google up names or find the nearest one around, but be ready for exceptional cases. For example, if you are in a non-English speaking country, and due to some physical uneasiness, you need a doctor or buy some generic medicines. You could be right next to a pharmacy/clinic but due to the language barrier, you are unable to decipher the name.
Expenses Tracking Made Easy
Keeping track of expenses is one big challenge for corporate travelers while on-the-road. Earlier, the practice was to get claims reimbursed by submitting collected receipts of expenditures incurred on the trip. However, with changing business class patterns, an app like TrackEx makes such inconveniences a cakewalk. Now, just click and upload receipts on-the-go or auto-generate an expense report to analyze expenses and more. An incredible way to save time on the journey and after!
These are some of the many issues that can happen during business travels. To get help with similar travel and expense management issues contact experts at https://www.trackex.com.