This week I am concentrating on the tricky task of business travel planning. Today I will be writing about the first step which is ‘waving goodbye to your Executive‘.

Firstly I think we all breath a sign of relief when our Executive pays that final visit to our desk to say goodbye before they head out of the office to start their business trip. There has usually been weeks of work leading up to this point and depending on where the Executive is going there have probably been lots of meetings to discuss the finer points. That sign of relief comes with the knowledge that once your Executive has left the office they have everything they need to make this trip a success… or in other words they won’t get lost, delayed or miss that all important client meeting without you there to organise them. Business travel is tricky but it can be a lot easier if you get the initial stage right – the first step really does lay the foundations for a successful business trip. Here are the points you need to think about before you can wave goodbye to your Executive:

Meeting to discuss the trip

Assistants don’t usually have the luxury of actually having a meeting to discuss a business trip, more often than not their Executive will drop a bombshell which sounds something like this: ‘I have to travel to the States for an important client meeting which needs to take place in the next two week‘. Eeekk! If you are lucky you may have a little more notice. Either way your initial thoughts should look something like this:

  1. When is the client meeting?
  2. Where will it be held?
  3. What do I need to clear in their diary to make the trip happen?
  4. How much time does this trip need to take up? Is it a quick turn around or do they want to spend additional time overseas?
  5. What are my travel options?

Searching for options

Many assistants use a travel management company at this point to ease the pain of searching numerous flight and hotel options. However to ensure this part of the process is easy it is important that you know as much as you possible about the trip before picking up the phone to your TMC. I have spent numerous hours on the phone to my travel manager changing flights, hotels, even destinations because the details were not quite ready. Asking the right questions about the travel options can also save you a lot of time. Here for example are 15 questions you can ask about the flight (obviously don’t ask these all at once – you may annoy your Exec somewhat!)

15 questions to ask your manager about their flight

  1. What is the purpose of the trip?
  2. Do they always carry luggage on to the flight or prefer to check it in?
  3. Are there any airports they want to avoid?
  4. Do they mind having a layover?
  5. What time of day do they prefer to fly?
  6. Do they mind getting a red eye flight?
  7. Do they have a preference for the time they land?
  8. Do they have a preferred airline?
  9. Do they have a preferred seat?
  10. Do they have any food allergies the airline will need to be aware of?
  11. What transport do they prefer at the destination? Cab, car rental, driver?
  12. Do they care about the cost of the flight?
  13. Do they prefer to be in and out of the destination as quickly as possible or would they prefer time to relax and adjust?
  14. Do they want to work on the flight? Do they need WiFi?
  15. Are they a member of any frequent flyer schemes? If not, they should be!

 Other things to consider…

 Once you have the flight booked there are a few more aspects of the trip you should consider before your boss boards the flight.

  • Do they need a visa to travel?
  • How far away is the airport from the hotel / meeting point? Does this need to be factored into their schedule?
  • Is the airport notorious for long delays either to get through security or passport control? Will this cause any issues?
  • How long will it take your manager to get to the airport?

The itinerary

Locking the business trip in place and getting the details confirmed in your Executive’s diary is an important and unbelievably time consuming step. Once you are there it is really really important that all of the plans are put into a travel itinerary. I’ve written about this before in my ultimate travel itinerary post. There are lots of different options for itineraries – you can use the good old fashioned paper itinerary or you can use an app such as Tripit. Either way it is crucial that your Executive has all of the travel information in one place that they can access during the trip.

Tomorrow I will look at the next step in my four steps to business travel planning – Delivering your Executive to their destination.

For now I want to remind you that their are still free places available for Assist Travel. If you do book complex business trips for your organisations the conference sessions will really help you develop your skills in this area.