Unless a corporate travel office is handling your travel arrangements, build self-reliance into all your plans. Your hosts shouldn’t have to tend to things you can easily handle for yourself.
- Once the date and time of the visit are set, tell your host that you’ll make your own hotel reservations. Or if your company has a travel department or an affiliation with a travel agency, leave the reservations to them. If your host insists on making them herself, let her do so; the hotel chosen will no doubt be a place convenient to you both, which is what you want.
- Don’t overlook the fact that many large hotel chains offer special amenities for business travelers, including the on-site business center, equipped with copiers, fax machines, computers, WiFi and Internet access. Ask the reservationist about special services of this kind and any other perks and whether they are included in the room fee or are charged extra.
- Concierge floors can add value, with special areas set aside that have snacks, beverages, hors d’oeuvres, and even a quick breakfast available for guests.
- If your children are traveling with you, ask about babysitting services and day programs geared for kids.
- If you’re going to meet a client at your hotel, arrange in advance for the use of a meeting room. A note of caution: Having a business meeting in your hotel room is generally considered too personal these days, particularly if it involves a member of the opposite sex.
- If the journey is a long one, plan to arrive in town the day before the meeting so that you’ll be refreshed and at your best. If you have an appointment scheduled for the day you arrive, book a flight that leaves plenty of room for unexpected delays. The same holds true if you’re driving: Get an early start.
- Don’t forget to make arrangements for traveling from the airport to the hotel. If you must go straight from the airport to your meeting, think twice about taking a taxi; the line at the taxi rank may be long on a busy day. A safer alternative, if cost permits, is to arrange for a car service; the driver knows your destination in advance and will be waiting when you arrive.
- If you’re scheduled to give a presentation, plan on arriving the day before. Take any visual aids with you, including equipment for presenting them, or send your materials ahead and arrange for the equipment to be available to you. For example, don’t assume that the office you’re visiting has an overhead projector, microphone, or connector cords.
- When all of your arrangements are final, prepare an itinerary for your host, your office, and your family. Include the following:
- Your flight schedule, with flight numbers and times of departure and arrival
- The name, address, and telephone number of your hotel
- The times and locations of your meetings, with telephone numbers where you can be reached
- The name and telephone number of the contact person in the office you’re visiting
- Your cell phone number