Cleared for Takeoff: 4 Ways to Eliminate Travel Planning Turbulence

If you’re a business travel coordinator or manager, you’re likely to have a rough road ahead of you unless you map out the twists and turns that business travel planning can take. And even when you think you’ve cleared the way for a colleague to enjoy a stress-free business travel experience, it’s wise to be prepared for surprises. From cancelled flights to missing luggage to unexpected itinerary changes, business travelers can be grounded by an array of setbacks.

Even without the occasional extreme weather that can keep them in limbo, business travelers often seem buffeted by the winds of change as they scramble to figure out how to resolve unanticipated contingencies. Anticipating problems that might arise regarding reservations, itineraries, transportation, accommodations, and all the other details of business travel planning can seem like an insurmountable task. But by following these 4 simple strategies, you can lighten the load of worry and help your colleagues steer clear of all-too-common business travel snags.

1. Get organized -- and stay that way:

One of the best ways to ensure that business travel plans don’t veer off course, or can easily be course-corrected, if they do, is by being as organized as possible. Staying on top of the details is essential if you want to keep ahead of the curve. Consider creating checklists for bookings and itineraries to avoid miscommunications and oversights. Compose clear and concise notes on flight arrangements, ground transportation, hotel accommodations, dining reservations, meeting events, conferences, and any other aspects of a business trip.

Business travel apps can help manage business trip logistics and organize the particulars in one place. In addition, the Upside Business Travel app is an especially effective travel planning tool for managing all the particulars of your trip in one place. Rated 4 ½ stars out of 5 on the App Store, it helps your travelers easily keep track of flights, hotel, and car details, and gives your team live, 24/7 access to our customer service Navigators. Just send a message through the Chat icon in the app, and they’ll respond instantly to help with any issue or on-the-fly change. They’ll even reach proactively to prevent problems before they happen.

2. Expect the unexpected:

Delays that drag out travel time happen for any number of reasons, so it’s always a good idea to give business travelers a buffer zone of extra time to arrive at their destinations. If they arrive as scheduled, an extra night beforehand gives them time to relax and recharge; if they are running behind schedule due to inclement weather or other issues, they have a grace period before they need to hit the ground running. It’s also prudent to always have a back-up plan. For example, having an alternate means of transportation lined up, be it a rental car or rideshare, in the event there’s a problem with your scheduled car service could mean the difference between making and missing a critical business meeting.

Also make sure your company’s health insurance covers employees when traveling abroad. If it doesn’t, determine what provisions and resources will be available to them for medical and dental coverage. Visitors Coverage offers business travel insurance plans that cover everything from medical expenses to last-minute cancellations to baggage loss or delay.

3. Partner with the right vendors:

Having travel partners, and not just travel vendors, can ensure greater savings, efficiency, and traveler satisfaction. Preferred suppliers should be trusted allies you depend upon to deliver better prices and services than competitors, and to help you develop a smooth-running travel program for your colleagues. While price is key, be sure to put equal emphasis on the services that vendors provide, such as whether they are flexible with bookings, accommodate sudden changes, offer 24/7 support, and waive fees for cancellations. Upside provides an ever-growing network of suppliers, including major airlines and hotel chains, which offer exclusive partner deals with which business travelers can build their own money-saving travel packages. For more information, reach out at [email protected].

Also, remember that rates fluctuate unpredictably, so while many trips are booked well in advance, it’s important to remain diligent in your search for the best prices and recheck a few days before the trip. Vendors often offer a “Best Price Guarantee,” in which case if you find a lower price they will match or beat it. Being flexible in travel arrangements can also lead to lower prices without sacrificing comfort or convenience. Upside’s Navigators are available anytime at [email protected] to partner with you on business travel planning and program development.

4. Span a world of details:

While cost-effective and fuss-free travel arrangements may be the foundation of a successful business trip, there are details that can get overlooked, especially when it comes to international travel. Take climate into consideration and urge your travelers to pack accordingly. If they’re traveling to different destinations over the course of a single trip, they should be prepared for the weather forecasted for each of them. Cultural differences and local customs should also be kept in mind, especially as they pertain to business etiquette. What’s considered acceptable behavior in the States could be misinterpreted in other countries and have a negative impact on business relations. More directly relevant to the bottom line are currency conversion rates. It’s vital that you stress the importance of being aware of what the American dollar is worth at the destination and help travelers gain an understanding of that country’s denominations.

Knowing the exchange rate will help employees manage expenses more efficiently and avoid excess spending. The XE Currency app makes it easy to track and convert currencies on a mobile device. And don’t forget to research custom and immigration office procedures for your traveler’s destination, so they know what to expect and are prepared with any paperwork and identification they need to pass through as smoothly as possible.

The most effective travel coordinators and managers go beyond the bare minimum needed to get their travelers from point A to B. As much as possible, they cover travel contingencies from A to Z. Going the extra mile to ensure your colleagues have a handle on the ins, outs, and in-betweens of business travel will help keep hassles to a minimum. Rule of thumb: The more you know, the more smoothly your travel plans will go.

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