BUSINESS TRAVEL

7 Tips for the Novice Business Traveler

Just starting out on the road? Follow the advice of those who have been there.
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Growing your business will often require you or your partners to hit the ole pavement. Often business travel becomes necessary to visit clients or make sales pitches or visit satellite offices. Whatever the reason, here are a few tips to look into before your next trip.

1.  Membership Rewards

It is never too early to sign up and start using membership rewards programs. Be it points on select credit cards to travel rewards programs through hotels and airlines, if you are going to spend you might as well accumulate points toward rewards. Believe me, they add up. This year, my family and I will take three weeklong vacations, all courtesy of various rewards programs. So sign up and use them.

2.  Build Extra Time Into Your Schedule

We are all about efficiency these days, but in our zeal to be efficient we often lose focus on quality. For instance, if you have a 9 a.m. presentation in New York City, don't risk a flight in from Atlanta that morning. Take a flight the night before, spend the night, and be refreshed and ready to go in the morning. You'll be less stressed and more likely to nail your presentation if you do. Likewise, if your presentation or meetings are scheduled until four in the afternoon, don't book a 5 o'clock flight. Nothing says you aren't important to me like leaving a meeting early to catch a flight. Book a later flight. You can always move it up if you end early.

3.  Be Willing to Fly Standby

If you get done with your work early and head to the airport hoping to catch an earlier flight, be willing to fly standby. Ask the attendant if there is an earlier flight. If so, ask how many open seats there are left. If it is not a full flight, simply ask to be put on standby for that flight. It doesn't cost a thing, and for flights with open seats you will usually get on. This is one way of avoiding the reticketing charge you will receive if they simply move you up to the earlier flight.

4.  No Downtime, Ever

In our 24/7 world, we are always connected. Who cares if there is not an earlier flight. With technology, you can be at the office working even if you are hundreds or thousands of miles away. Personally, my smartphone acts as a Wi-Fi hot spot for my laptop, and I can also access my desktop remotely. Invest in the technology that works for you to keep getting the job done no matter where you are.

5.  Power Up

All that technology, however, requires juice. So whenever possible, make sure you plug in. While waiting for your meeting to begin, plug in. Most airports now have free charging stations. Plug in. If they don't, just look around: There's an outlet somewhere on the wall. There has to be. It's code.

6.  Internet Deals

Always look for the best deals using the Internet. Expedia.com and Travelocity.com are great for booking hotels and flights even at the last minute. And make sure to scroll through their options, looking for the websites' stars as well as user ratings. Oftentimes you can find hotels that are just as nice for half the price. For instance, last night I was in New York City and needed to be in the Times Square area at 9 a.m. for meetings. Rather than simply booking at my old standard, which would have been $499 for the night (Welcome to New York), I poked around on Expedia.com and booked a room at a neighboring hotel for $250! I saved $249, and the hotel was every bit as nice as my old favorite.

7.  Maintain Healthy Habits (If You Have Any)

One of the toughest things about being on the road is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So many of us get on the road and say, "Hey, tonight it's me, a bag of Doritos, and whatever Nicholas Cage movie is showing on TNT." On the road or not, you've got to behave the same way as you would at home. If you exercise, don't miss it because you are on the road. What greater way to see the city you are staying in than a quick jog or power walk? Of course, it is so easy to throw food caution to the wind. I mean, how can you eat a whole bag of Doritos without having some Oreo cookies to finish it off? But you must resist the temptation.

Last updated: Oct 18, 2012

MATTHEW SWYERS | Columnist | Founder, The Trademark Company

Matthew Swyers is the founder of The Trademark Company, a Web-based law firm specializing in protecting the trademark rights of small to medium-size businesses. The company is ranked No. 138 on the 2011 Inc. 500.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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