8 Sure ways to screw up a business trip

The dream for anyone is to have a job that lets you travel around the country and the world, but people tend to forget how stressful these trips can be.

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A missed flight connection or a booked hotel that's too far from the conference venue can have serious consequences for your career, and thus a little extra precaution needs to be taken compared to a leisurely holiday.

The experts at business travel agencies Corporate Traveller and  Thompsons Travel gave us a few tips on how to avoid disaster, and nail that pitch you travelled thousands of kilometres for.

Here are 8 ways you can screw up a business trip.

Planning a business trip last-minute

While life happens and that great opportunity could jump on you at the last second, try not to rush through your plans and double-check everything.

"There’s nothing worse than to realise your client has forgotten that meeting for which you just travelled 10 hours by plane. It sounds obvious, but re-confirming dates and times a few days prior can save you time and embarrassment," says Oz Desai, general manager at Corporate Traveller.

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Assuming you don't need a business visa

Always check whether the purpose of your trip falls under a tourist visa or a business visa for international destinations. Some countries require an invitation letter from whoever you're meeting, and other business visa requirements can be a lengthy process compared to a tourist visa.

The easiest way to deal with is to work with your corporate travel agent to sort it out for you. 

Going to a destination blind

Remember to do your research about where you're going, and what sensitive issues are prevalent there. You don't want to explain to your company why you stayed at a hotel that promotes cub petting in a country where canned lion hunting is a contentious issue.

"Wherever your business travels take you in 2019, be mindful of the country’s relevant biodiversity issues so as to make informed decisions. By not supporting illegal or controversial fauna and flora practices, you are already making a small difference towards a much greater positive change," says Chantal Kliche, retail manager at Thompsons Travel.

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Opting for cheaper flights rather than convenience

Remember, you get what you pay for, and with airlines and flight times this is even more important. Opting for a cheaper flight at 06:00 in the morning might save you cash, but you'll be extra groggy if you have to go straight to a meeting from the airport.

To balance the two, Kliche has the following advice.

"Hiring a travel management company means you benefit from their negotiating strength and global buying power. With access to great deals and discounts, as well as strong partnerships and industry relationships, your travel management company will be able to provide you with competitive rates – saving you money on flights, accommodation and even car rentals."

Packing willy nilly

If you want to make sure you don't have any luggage woes at airports, both Desai and Kliche agree that the best way to go is to pack light enough for a carry-on bag.

Desai had the following tip: "Ditching a towel and unnecessary toiletries can make all the difference when you’re running low on space. And if they have an iron, you can be a little more liberal with packing clothes for your business carry-on."

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Booking the wrong accommodation for the wrong time

Lots of things can go wrong when you book the wrong accommodation, especially if you take a cheaper red-eye flight.

"If you land after midnight at your destination, your hotel booking needs to cover the night BEFORE you arrive, not the same day. Otherwise, you'll rock up to your hotel early morning, tired and grumpy, only to find out that you can't check-in for another 12 hours," remarks Desai.

Also make sure you're close to where you'll be doing business to avoid traffic and hassle, and always see if the check-out times coincide with your flight times.

Not using the technology available to you

Take an in-depth look into apps while travelling that could make your travel report easier.

"Studies have shown that companies that use mobile travel and expense management apps report nearly 40% lower expense processing costs and a 22% higher rate of compliance with corporate travel policies, compared to companies that don’t leverage mobile technology," notes Kliche.

This also includes checking your business phone plan is in place and what charges you may incur, adds Desai, as dodgy WiFi can make or break a business trip.

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Not working in some leisure time into your business trip

If you're travelling real far for business, it's easy enough to use some annual leave and spend an extra week soaking up the sun before you return to the grind.

"Do your research - make the most of your time in your destination to explore it," says Kliche, and adds that companies should especially be aware of this when millennials and Gen Z employees travel for work and incorporate 'bleisure' and 'apprentrip' into their travel policies.

However, Desai advises leaving the leisure time for the after the business activities, as you wouldn't want to be giving your important presentation with a sunburnt face and foggy memory of your prep from before the trip.

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