Traveling for work can be fraught with delays, mechanical difficulties, and missed connections as a new study by the Global Business Travel Association recently found. Here are some tips from one association professional and travel pro to help make your next trip go as smooth as possible.
For anyone who’s traveled this winter, you’ve probably experienced at least one travel delay due to the weather and realized what a headache that can be.
For business travelers, weather-related delays were the most frequently reported issues disrupting travel last year, according to a recently released study by the Global Business Travel Association. Other frequent travel issues included delayed departures, airplane mechanical issues or late plane arrivals, and missing a connecting flight.
The study also found that 75 percent of business travelers had encountered a mishap while traveling over the last year.
While pretty much nothing can help alleviate the pain of weather delays, here’s some travel advice from seasoned traveler and association professional Lowell Aplebaum, CAE, senior director, membership and professional development, at the Society for Neuroscience, who up until this year was on the road three out of every four weeks a month.
What was a top concern or pet peeve when you were traveling so frequently?
Once you travel a lot you get your routine down: How soon you need to get to the airport, how much time you need for security, where you need to go after security to get the best cup of coffee or be ready for your flight.
I’d say a pet peeve would be anything that happens that messes up that routine. It could be people who are in the wrong line for security, people who still don’t realize you need to show ID to check in, any of the small things you know are going to mess up your usual pattern.
Just like when people go to the office in the morning and they have their routine—they like to set up their computer, get their cup of coffee, check the news—it’s the same for a traveler.
In terms of when to travel, my philosophy is I want to be away from home as little as possible, so I’d rather get the 5 a.m. flight and get there and have a full day to work in hopes that when it comes time to leave I don’t have to stay the extra day or the extra night because I’ve spent the whole day working.
But if you get the 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. flight that means you’re up at 3 a.m. in time to get there, so I’m not saying that’s for everyone. There’s give and take and wear and tear on your body, and are you going to be awake and vibrant when you get to your first meeting?
I happen to be a morning person so it works for me, but I’d much rather do the early morning flight and get the full day in than leave at noon and try to start meetings at four or five in the evening.
I think my advice would be location, location, location. People have brand loyalty and earning points and perks will definitely make your hotel experience better. But, in general, if you know where you have to be for a conference, staying five, 10 minutes farther away to save 10 or 20 bucks isn’t worth it.
When you’re traveling, your hotel room is your home base. It’s the place you have that you can work. It’s the place you have that is quiet. It’s the place you have that you have all your stuff organized and you can lay everything out and no one’s going to touch it. You don’t have an office. You don’t have a home. But you have the hotel room. … It’s worth the investment to be close to that home base.
What advice would you give a newbie business traveler?
You quickly learn that the perks of loyalty programs—whether it’s boarding first and getting your bag on the plane, or having access to a lounge that has breakfast in the morning—whatever the perks may be, for business travelers who are on the road all the time, they become part of what helps you do your job better.
If you travel a lot, being able to board first so you can take your bag [and not run out of space on the plane to store it], means that much less time that you’re waiting at baggage claim so you can go and get to your meeting. The lounge in the hotel in the morning, which may seem first class, is really a quiet place you can go, spread out, and do some work before your meetings.
Any other advice?
Any day that you are traveling somewhere new, even if you’re booked from 8 a.m. till 10 p.m., you’re still somewhere different, you’re still somewhere new, there’s always the possibility to try and get a little bit of the local flavor, whether that’s the food, the people you talk to, or maybe there’s a beautiful outdoor environment you can go out and appreciate.
Yes, business travel is business first and travel second, but it shouldn’t mean that you don’t pay attention to where you are and try to experience a little of where you are even though it may not be the primary reason you are there.