So, you’ve polished your shoes, had your suit dry cleaned and finally persuaded your boss that you are the best employee to send to the overseas expo conference, but what now? Travelling on business for the first time can be a strange balance of both exciting yet nerve-wracking, as you are being paid to visit a new country but are expected not to mess the opportunity up. Like most trips though, the key to simplicity is in the planning.
Even in the internet age, business travel is just as popular as ever amongst all levels of employees, and the advent of new technology has undoubtedly made the whole process easier to organise and probably more fun too. Before you go, make sure you have all the essentials covered.
Book the hotel before you do anything else (on the work credit card, of course) and make sure it is both near the conference facility for an easy morning commute, and also mid-priced. Do not go for cheap just because you are not paying for it, as your company will certainly be claiming the tax back on your trip, so don’t rough it unnecessarily. Of course, try to get as much for your money as possible though, like free wireless internet, breakfast and parking. Once you have found the perfect hotel, make sure it is close enough to any amenities you might need during the trip, including restaurants and entertainment.
Next prepare your technology. It almost goes without saying that being able to find a reliable internet source abroad to send any necessary paperwork is never going to be simple, so make sure you take everything you need. Try and borrow a work laptop if you don’t already have one, and always bring a small USB flash drive, so that you can transfer data quickly and easily if need be. Likewise make sure your mobile phone is set for international use. Finally, make sure you save a copy of all of your bookings, boarding tickets and itineraries in your office e-mail, so that a colleague can access them in an emergency.
The day before leaving, pack with consideration. If you’re only going for a day or two, you might not need to check-in any luggage, This would save you time at the other end and you don’t have to worry about losing anything either. Pack simple, with one key piece, like a suit, and then two or three accompanying shirts and ties to match. Most hotels provide irons or trouser presses, but it’s a good idea to call ahead and check.
Arrive at the airport early and double-check everything is on time immediately. Afterwards, get online and start researching who you are likely to meet on your business trip and, if you have time, perhaps try and find somewhere to eat once you have landed. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, there are many hotels near Heathrow Airport where you can spend the day working, or book a room for the night.
Once you are at the conference or meeting, keep a pen and notepad on you at all times and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself immediately. Always use people’s name when addressing them if possible, as this will help you remember who’s who, and always remember that you are representing your company.