As people return to the office, travel is back on too. John Cradden outlines essential tips for returning business travellers.
There’s no doubting that the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home and the explosion in the use of Zoom and other video conferencing tools have together led to a completely transformation of the whole notion of international business travel.
Given that the economy has still managed to keep going and productivity has not suffered hugely for the lack of face-to-face interaction, it’s easy to see why companies will actively question whether its managers or staff need to travel as much as they did before.
“In light of the last two years, it’s likely that your firm has reviewed its policies on corporate travel, so make sure you’re aware of any new rules or procedures”
Furthermore, slashing travel budgets is much less painful that slashing headcount if a firm needs to cut costs, with the resulting reduction in carbon footprints representing another bonus, as well.
Zurich Insurance Group, for example, generated headlines last year when it announced plans to cut air travel-related missions in 2022 by 70% compared to its pre-pandemic level as part of plans to accelerate its drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Confectionery giant Mars and UK lender the Lloyds Group also promised to slash corporate travel by half.
But people will still need to meet face-to-face and make personal connections. After all, it’s naturally better to turn up in person to inspect a new premises before your company buys it or persuade a client to sign a big contract with your firm instead of a hungry rival.
International business travellers are now willing to travel with some 96% saying they are “willing to travel” and two-thirds “very willing” according to a global survey by business software firm SAP. Nearly 90% also plan to mix business with pleasure by tacking on untaken holiday days onto work trips.
Post-Covid tips on business travel:
Check with your travel manager
In light of the last two years, it’s likely that your firm has reviewed its policies on corporate travel, so make sure you’re aware of any new rules or procedures. These might include changes to the trip approval process or what expenses you can claim for, greater flexibility on how to travel, how to book flights and accommodation, and whether any vaccinations are needed before travel to certain countries.
Check DFA travel advice
Your corporate travel policy may well recommend this anyway, but it’s well worth checking the travel advice section of the Department of Foreign Affairs for any information you should be aware of before travelling.
Check Covid-19 advice
Although all Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland have been removed at the time of writing, restrictions may still be in place in other countries, so check the international travel section of the Gov.ie website.
Check your travel insurance
It’s a good idea to check that your travel insurance covers you for business travel. It might be the case that your company covers you under a corporate travel insurance policy, but you shouldn’t presume, so double-check.
Book direct flights
If your destination is far away, it may not be possible to book a direct flight, but you should choose to do so when it’s an option so you can avoid wasted time and long stopovers. It’s also better for the environment.
Sort your travel admin in advance
If you’re travelling by air, you should check in online before you get to the airport to avoid the queues. You might even have the added bonus of choosing your seat in advance. You should also book any hire cars in advance to save time at your destination airport.
Stick to carry-on baggage only
If you want to avoid losing an average 30 minutes at the baggage claim, or even having to go through the hassle of your suitcase being lost, then keep it simple, pack light, and stick to carry-on luggage.
Keep security checks in mind
Security checks can be very strict, with all liquids, electronics, and even chargers often being required to be taken out of your suitcase. To ensure you make your way through security checks as quickly as possible, keep all items to be checked at security ready to unpack when the time comes.
Charge your electronic devices
Charge all your electronic devices before leaving your house, and even throughout the trip when possible. You never know when a delay, cancellation, or work-related issue that requires you to use your phone might come up.
Bring a power adapter
An easy issue to overlook, but if you’re travelling abroad, the chances are the electric plug system is different. Make sure you pack an international power adapter to connect your devices, but also to prevent them from breaking due to voltage issues.
Avoid jet lag
While jet lag can’t be avoided completely on long-haul trips, there are a number of things you can do to minimise it. These include: taking earplugs and a sleep mask to help you sleep on flights or in a different bed; avoiding in-flight alcohol or caffeine; and changing the time on your watch to the local time of your destination when you board your flight and then adapting your routine to the new time.
Every expense that is being paid for by your company needs to be documented. No receipts, no refunds is a pretty standard rule here. This is why it’s recommend you take a picture every time you get a receipt. This way, even if you lose the paper version, you will always have the picture to prove your expenses.