In a world where it has become as easy as a quick few taps on smartphone to book a trip across the world, business travel is more widespread and accessible than ever before.
Are you a recent graduate or new employee looking for an introduction to business travel? This article provides an overview of the field as a whole as well as a guide to traveling for work and managing your business travel expenses.
What is business travel? A step-by-step business trip guide
Research from Statista shows that business travel contributes almost $1.3 trillion to the global economy in a single year, making it one of the world’s largest economic industries. Further research highlights only upward trends in the amount that is spent on business travel as well.
This research reflects an increasingly intertwined global economy. With the speed at which businesses on opposite sides of the world can interact over the internet and travel to meet with each other, employees are operating in a space where location is fluid and business interests can converge across state, national, and continental lines.
Thus, business travel is a vital part of many companies’ lifebloods. In this article, we’ll explore the four temporal components of a business trip and use them as a lens through which to discuss business travel.
Booking business travel
Oftentimes, the dates and general logistics of your business trip are determined by the wants and needs of the client(s) you visit on the trip. If possible, it’s always best to book as far in advance as you can to plan on being out of office. Of course this won’t always be the case, as business trips occasionally arise on short notice if a client needs a quick turnaround time on a particular task that requires a visit.
Booking a business trip is not the same as browsing the internet for the best deals on a family vacation. The online booking platform (OBT) that you use for securing your transportation and hotel depends on your company’s internal travel policy.
Some companies require their employees to book through a specific brand of travel management software or using a travel management company. A key motivator for companies to use travel management software is that it makes it easier to ensure that employees comply with corporate travel policies. These policies include which airfare class employees are allowed to book, which hotel star class they can stay in, and the class of rental car they can use.
For others, booking your business trip may be a similar experience to booking a trip outside of work, as some companies tolerate open market bookings.
The rigidity with which you’ll be dealing with in terms of booking compliance is dependent upon your company’s travel policy and budget. In most cases, you’ll be looking at a range of mid-tier flight and hotel options that best fit your needs in terms of schedule and distance from the site where you’ll conduct most of your business.
Preparing for the trip
Business trips are often short and have a singular purpose. Get to your destination, meet with the people you need to meet with, and go home. Because of the high energy level required for such a focused itinerary, you’ll want to make sure that you are well-rested going into the trip.
After arriving at your destination, there may not be time to catch a nap before heading to your first meeting, so you’ll want to ensure that you are able to operate at peak performance as soon as you arrive.
Travel with your important items in your carry-on bag just in case anything happens to your checked luggage. Almost everything you bring on a business trip should be essential to your work, and with a short turnaround between arrival and meetings, you can’t risk not having item X, Y, Z..
On the trip
While on your trip, optimize for everything you can. Outside of any business-related commitments, you’ll want to make sure you have as much time as you need for your work. If there is a particular company policy regarding a daily per diem, or allowance, for meals or transportation, you’ll also need to keep that in mind.
If your trip is to a destination with a lot to see outside business hours or a place where you have friends or family, you can also check with your company’s travel policy regarding bleisure travel. Bleisure, a combination of “business” and “leisure,” means adding a few days onto the beginning or end of your trip to enjoy the opportunity to spend some time not only inside an office.
TIP: Business travel is hectic and a lot can go wrong if you're not prepared. Read up on the 8 most common business trip mistakes to ensure smooth travels!
After the trip
The most important part of finishing a business trip is gathering your expenses and filing an expense report. Between flights, hotels, other transportation, and food, you likely spend a decent amount of money and would like your expenses to be approved and reimbursed as quickly as possible.
Having your expenses approved and reimbursed is typically an easy process, especially if your company uses a form of expense management software.
It’s a trip!
Traveling for work may seem daunting, but thinking about your trip in terms of these four segments will help you succeed at all points of your trip. If your job allows you the opportunity to spend time outside of your office, enjoy it—and maybe spend time in some exciting destinations along the way.