An old wisdom among the Maasai tribe in Africa accurately mirrors the challenges of corporate travel management: “If you venture out in the open in the darkness of the night, you are either the predator or the prey.” From the perspective of a business traveller, it makes enormous good sense to believe in this statement because of the double-edged sword of exposure to completely new and unknown spaces, times and scales.
You may be a great performer in the geography that you have been working in for a while and thus, may have domesticated. The localization of your business knowledge, skills and network of people and local resources comes to your aid at any time of the day. This so-called “home turf advantage” vanishes into thin air, once you are asked to pack your bags and jump on to a foreign territory. It is this risk of touching down on an unknown space or time zone, successfully hitting the targeted goals and then returning to the base that adds to the stress of business travel management.
Given that a business travel is tied to the realization of business goals, a creation of measurable value and therefore, sponsored by the employing enterprise, it adds to the distress, uneasiness and a certain feeling of “butterflies in the stomach” for a business traveller. Failing to plan, is planning to fail and hence, it is always advisable to frame out a business travel plan that integrates the entire business agenda with some leisure goals to ease off the stress, augment productivity and make work on the business tour more enjoyable.
Travel for Business, Plan for an Adventure
While surfing through different options of travel packages give due consideration to amenities that allow you to divide your time freely between work goals and leisure. For example, you may opt to custom create a business travel plan that allows you significant time to prepare for the next steps like the business meeting, preparations and power lunches. Punch time slots in between for a long drive or a trek. By the time you show up at the next client meeting the next morning, you will be a completely refreshed and feel a lot more energized from within.
Manage your Mental State
When on a business trip to an unknown or even a known location, remember to stay in control of your emotions. You may have sick parents back home, a newborn baby to take care of or a dotting sibling that has never stayed away from you. It is difficult to contain the build-up of such emotions and even more difficult to release them when you are surrounded by colleagues and clientele. Learn to manage your state of mind. Be aware of the situation and stay tuned to the scenario evolving before you. Carry your gym wear and sweat it out at the local training facility. It is even better if you are into Yoga and practice deep breathing. Stay in charge of your mind like a Yogi and cultivate the willpower to navigate through high and low tides that life throws at you during a business trip.
Pack Snacks and Healthy Food
How often do we get influenced by the food that we eat? Is it rarely, occasionally or frequently? You never know what kind of fare you may stumble upon in a foreign locale? You may want to stay put on the table to follow suit with standard corporate protocol and courtesy but may not be able to enjoy the meal. The answer is all the time. Carry snacks of light calorific value and healthy food with you.
Take a Personal Tour Guide in your Pocket
Remember that the difference between operating from home turf and going on a business trip is your access to information. The more information you have, the better you are prepared to predict outcomes of events in foreign territories. Carry a personal tour guide preferably in your smartwatch or your smartphone. Remember that you may need to access the document on the go and thus carrying it on a portable platform makes sense and if possible add key experiences to update the document for your use next time or sharing some professional or adventure travel tips on social media. The catchword here is that one must register all the minute travel learning experiences which is rarely spoken of yet much beneficial, and build on a professional experience of having ventured into different geographies.
Spend Valuable Money Wisely
Yet another aspect of corporate travel management that you need to be mindful of is the way you choose to spend your valuable money. While ideally, you should have researched deep on likely expenses for three meals a day, the hotel booking and local transport, you should carry globally accepted plastic money. If you plan to spend some cash on leisure, budget it and don’t give into temptations that may lead you to fiscal profligacy. Spend money on local leisure options like local cuisine and street food, local art & theatre performances and exhibits that you are not likely to experience once you leave your business tour location.
Remember to Carry Meaningful Things like Passport
Many people have the habit of looking at the big picture while planning for a business trip and in the process tend to forget the need for looking into the finer aspects of travel documentation that are an absolute necessity. Prepare a checklist of your papers like the passport, the visa, an ID proof of nationality and if possible a back-up of these docs on your email so that you may retrieve the basics as and when required to wrestle your way out of a tight spot.
Be Proactive if Something Goes Wrong
The best thing about travel is that it kills boredom by taking you off your routine. Now, that’s a catch 22 situation. You are never too sure if the flight shall reach on time or an important meeting may have to be rescheduled at the last moment due to inclement weather. Be proactive and always have a plan B to counter exigencies on the trip.
Be Kind and Calm
When on a business trip, there may be situations that test your patience. Factors like non-understanding of the foreign language, culture, customs and geography may all add up to create an unenviable situation for you. Stay calm and be kind to people around you. The more that you stay connected to people, the more insights you can get into what went wrong. Kindness always pays off, in business and life and on home turf as well as foreign soil.
Know that even the best hardware for transport, communication and accommodation may fail to cheer you up into good spirits when on a business trip unless you are mentally prepared to take on the stress with a smile on your face. Each business travel teaches a lesson and every failure adds to experience so that you are better equipped to handle situations going forward. In life, work and business travel there is nothing called failure.