Business Travel Planning Checklist – 10 key points effective executive assistants & PAs consider
17th June 2015
Business travel planning is an essential part of PAs, executive assistants and executive secretaries jobs, and for many planning business travel is probably the most time consuming and most fulfilling part of their role. Executive assistants and PAs responsible for managing a large business travel programme, may most of the time have the support from a professional corporate travel management company. However, when it comes to arranging business trips for your executive travellers, it is often down to the executive PA or administrative assistant to identify the best business travel solutions for flights, hotel rooms and ground transport arrangements.
Having the right business travel planning checklist and understanding the needs of your executive travellers can save you time, reduce stress related to organising business trips and save your company money. At the same time, you make life easier for your executive travellers, who often travel long distances and have to show up for meetings – no matter what!
Therefore, our VIP executive travel management specialists have compiled a 10 step checklist with tips on how to plan business travel effectively, helping professional PA’s and administrative assistants to master the task of organising business travel for their executive travellers.
1. Identify and understand traveller needs
In most cases your VIP executive travellers will have a clear idea of their business trip. Start by making a plan or travel itinerary, based on the essential questions of who, where, when, what and how. Ideally, you may also have a traveller profile at hand which is a record of each executive traveller’s details, including the traveller’s full name and address, passport numbers and visas held, health document records, frequent flyer and loyalty programme details, credit card details for securing hotel bookings as well as preferred seat, hotel room information or special meal requirements. Your travel management company should have stored this information for you. If you are doing DIY then consider creating traveller profiles, at least for your most frequent travellers, so you have them at hand for future bookings. Also, remember to consider potential differences in time zones and indicate both the one at origin and at the business travel location.
2. Know your company travel policy, budget and loyalty programmes
Your business travel policy, budget and loyalty programmes may impact on which airline, hotel and car hire companies you choose. Travellers who are a member of frequent flyer programmes can benefit from travel class upgrades, priority check-in and can access airport lounges. A hotel loyalty programme may offer your travellers additional benefits such as room upgrades, early check-ins, late check-outs, and special discounts on rack rates or even free stays. Car rental loyalty programmes typically include incentives such as fast collection and drop off options, vehicle upgrades or links to airline or hotel benefits. Check with your corporate travel management company as they usually monitor your travel policy, and can help you find the best business travel solutions for your executive travellers ensuring they stay within your company travel policy whilst having a productive and stress-free business trip.
3. Create a To-Do-List
Based on your business travel itinerary, create a checklist to make sure you don’t forget to enquire about things such as passport, health and visa requirements, check your company’s travel policy, to research a number of possible route options, book the most suitable flights, hotels, ground transportation or any other item on the itinerary. This way you can reduce stress, as you can work your way through the list, being calm and not forgetting anything.
In your business travel planning, you should also gather information on what kind of communication options will be needed and how to optimise them in terms of quality and cost. You may want to check the roaming offers of the mobile phone service supplier in your country and also the ones by providers at the destination to make sure you find the best solution. This also includes considerations regarding safe internet connections and usage of laptops. Don’t forget to include 24/7 out-of-hours contact number – Your travel management company should provide this for you.
5. Stay updated
As an executive PA you are responsible for your manager’s business trip running smoothly. Make sure you keep checking on potential changes regarding meetings, itinerary plans and other schedules, including changes to flight times. Check regularly via phone and online for updates and changes. This way you have the latest information at hand helping you, for example, to ensure executive travellers are in time for their flight and are not losing valuable time waiting at the airport.
6. Consider buying refundable tickets
In business plans can change quickly, and so do business travel plans. Meetings are often cancelled at the very last minute, and new meetings may be arranged. It depends on the type of travel and the distance to the destination amongst others, but purchasing refundable tickets where possible, can save costs and ensures your company does not lose all the money spent on tickets if a business trip is cancelled or plans change.
7. Organise travel insurance
Never forget to take care of organising travel insurance, as in case it covers everything from baggage, to cancellation fees and potential but hopefully not needed hospital costs and more. It is an item on your preparation list that will prove vital if the trip doesn’t go exactly as planned.
8. Brief your executive business travellers
Compile an essential Info Pack with information your executive business traveller will need during the trip, including the full and detailed chronological schedule, tickets, luggage information based on chosen providers (incl. carry-on package business travel packing advise), transportation and accommodation confirmations, potentially visa documents, addresses of and potentially directions towards meeting locations, accommodations etc., important phone numbers regarding airlines, hotels, customers, taxi, limousine service or car rental. Depending on your executive traveller’s preferences, you may wish to consider creating an additional info pack. It could include information on the local language and maybe contact information for an interpreter, information regarding the local culture and according business manners, public holidays, the climate and weather, health considerations (e.g. vaccinations, medication needed), regulations for customs, electricity supply and potentially adaptors needed and suggestions for restaurants, bars, cafés and/or entertainment. Once you have compiled all information, hand over the info packs and go through all the relevant details to make sure your executive traveller is well prepared.
9. Deliver the best possible business travel assistance
While your executive traveller is on his/her way, have all information that could be relevant at hand. Keep your executive business traveller updated about potential changes in the schedule, especially regarding flights and meetings. Just be prepared to deliver that perfect travel assistance that makes a big difference regarding efficiency and eases the stress of the executive traveller. Working closely with your travel management company continually pays off. Especially when your travellers are caught up in force majeure and their flight is cancelled due to adverse weather, a strike or technical fault. Most travel management companies offer out-of-hours service and they are there for you 24/7 to support you and your executive travellers making sure they are in time for their business meeting and bring your travellers back home safely if a disaster or crisis strikes.
10. Corporate travel management companies
Working with a reliable travel management company can save you time and your company money! As an example your manager / director asks “… I need to be in New York Tuesday for 2 full working days, please source the most cost-effective and convenient way to get to this business meeting”. In such an instance, having a good travel management company you can rely on is worth it’s weight in gold. Because corporate travel management companies, help you find the best available fares, secure consolidated fares or special deals, alongside pro-active advice and access to easy to use online travel booking tools enabling you to view real-time flight information and compare fares.
Business travel planning: VIP executive business travel solutions from Flightline Travel
As a well-experienced independent corporate travel management company we are here to support you and to ensure you are up-to-date regarding all you want and need to know throughout our contractual relationship. Flightline business travel agents help you to get the most for your budget. For more information on business travel planning, as well as related subjects, please contact us on +44 (0) 1844 299 750 or enquire online to ensure your business travellers receive all the support they need.
For corporate travel management advise follow Flightline business travel agents on LinkedIn.