HOW TO PLAN EFFICIENTLY FOR BUSINESS TRIPS
With the development of the global marketplace, a growing number of people are finding that travel is an integral part of their job. Organizing business trips efficiently is now an essential part of time management for many managers.
Before making plans to travel, ask yourself a number of questions about the trip:
Am I making the best use of my time by going on this trip?
Will a phone call or letter suffice instead?
Can I send someone else?
Can I persuade the people I need to see to come instead?
Can I meet them halfway?
If the answer to any of these is yes, seriously question the time-effectiveness of your trip.
Efficient packing requires you to make an accurate assessment of your needs based on the duration of the trip. For a short trip, just take enough clothing and accessories with you to cover the number of days you anticipate being away. This way you do not have to spend money on laundry services . However, if you are going to be away for more than a few days, it may be better to take only one or two changes of clothes and have then cleaned on the trip, rather than burdening yourself with heavy suitcases.
MANAGING YOUR TRAVEL TIME
Before You Travel
Carefully plan your route and itinerary.
Combine numerous visits within the same country or region if possible.
Draw up a precise daily schedule. Leave a copy with colleagues at the office so that you can be contacted if necessary.
Gather together all the documents you will need for your meetings while you are away.
Always confirm arrangements before you set out in case a meeting needs to be rescheduled or is no longer necessary.
Prepare a permanent general file containing essential information that you can use each time you visit a particular area.
Reserve seats in advance when travelling by air so that you can avoid arriving late at the airport before take-off.
While You Are Away
Keep in touch with your office so that you can update them on your progress and keep abreast of any new developments that will affect your plans.
Use a Dictaphone for memos or notes, or a laptop for e-mail or other work that can be done on screen. On the other hand, a smartphone with good features could handle these assignments.
Use your own alarm clock as a back-up in case the early-morning alarm calls in your hotel prove to be unreliable.
At your destination, travel at off-peak times if possible; it is less stressful – and maybe quicker -than battling through the rush-hour commuters.
Combine meals with business meetings to save time and create a more informal and congenial atmosphere.
Coping With Jet-Lag
Your daily life is governed by an internal body clock which regulates sleep patterns. Jet-lag occurs when you travel through time zones and disrupt this clock. If you are travelling to a time zone with a 2- or 3- hour difference from your own, try going to bed when it is time to sleep at your destination on the day before you travel. This allows your body to adopt the new sleep pattern. For places with a larger time difference , ensure you are well rested before you travel and allow rest time upon arrival.
Staying In Touch
While it is important to work out how you are going to keep in touch with your office when travelling, try to be realistic about it. There are many methods of communication you can use, with varying levels of complexity. Choose the method best suited to your needs. In some situations, your absence from work causes practical difficulties. For example, your signature may be required to validate important documents . In such circumstances, it may be appropriate to book an overnight courier to get the documents to you and take them back to the office.
Keeping On Top of Work
Before you travel, draw up a schedule that utilizes your time to the optimum; this will minimize the time you are away and reduce the cost of the trip. Many people think that they can carry on with their normal job while on a business trip, but this is not possible in the majority of cases – nor is it always necessary. Ensure that your business trip has a specific purpose and keep free time to a minimum. Use any time you have available to concentrate on the purpose of your trip.
Updating Your Notes
Most of your time on business trips will be spent attending meetings: the longer the trip, the more meetings you will attend. It is crucial to update your notes every day, otherwise, all your meetings will have merged into each other by the time you return to your office: you will not be able to recall who agreed to what and when. Allow time each day to write the day’s meetings, noting any decisions made and action to be taken.
If possible, fit everything you need to take into one small piece of hand luggage.
Take work to do in an airport lounge in case of delays.
Before travelling, assess whether the trip is necessary and cost-effective.
Set your watch to the local time at your destination.
Check how much your hotel charges for phone calls before making any.
Find out whether you need adapters for your electrical equipment abroad.