The further up the ladder you go, the greater the probably you will travel for your organization. There is an art to doing it well. If done right, both the company and the employee benefit. Travelling for business offers lucrative perks and opportunities for personal travel if done right.
Seven pointers to making the most of business travel.
1. Get familiar with travel policy. Most companies or government agencies have published policy for travel. Get familiar with it. How does your company handle travel reimbursement? Is it based off of receipts or a fixed per diem? What are the daily limits for lodging, rental cars and meals? Does your company cover meals at all? Is airport parking reimburse or does your company require a drop off and pick up from another employee? Can you combine corporate and leisure travel? Who makes all the arrangements?
2. Clarify any points in your company's travel policy that are not clear. Failing to do this may result in unanticipated expenses that you may have to cover. Parking is often a sticking point. A company may only cover economy parking or mandate the use of a specific off airport parking facility. At most airports parking costs between $8 and $20 a day. This not an cost you want to cover yourself. The bottom line is that you need to understand your organizations policy before that first trip.
3. This is not leisure travel. Business travel requires a change in mindset. It can be fun, but fun is not the point. Mandated attire is common (see #1). Field service representatives may be required to wear an article of clothing with the company logo. Not a big deal when you are on company time.
4. Adhere to the rules. This is especially true when travelling with other employees or the boss. Some rules are more restrictive, such as no alcohol consumption while in transit. This is understandable. I have known business travelers who missed flights after one too many in the airport lounge.
5. Rewards programs are where the perks are! Sign up for a frequent flyer program within each airline alliance. The primary alliances are; Sky Team, One World and the Star Alliance. A few airlines still run stand alone programs. Examples of these programs would be Southwest or Frontier Airlines. Accumulate your miles with one airline within each alliance. Member airlines will honor each other’s program numbers and any status earned. Once you start earning status, the miles add up quick as a result of a bonus mile multipliers.
6. Get a travel credit card. Your organization may give you a company card. If not you are in luck. Accumulating points for business travel is one of the perks. Some cards work off of points and others off of air miles. Do the research to determine which card works best for you. Many cards offer double points for travel related expenses such as airline tickets, car rentals and hotels. I prefer a travel cards associated with airlines and air miles as opposed to generic points based cards.
7. Pack right and pack light. If you are checking a bag make sure that you have all the essentials you need for the first 24 hours in your carry on bag. This would include appropriate attire and job specific materials. Nothing is worse than starting a business trip off with a lost bag with items necessary for you to do your job.
Best luck and good travels.
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