Did you know that business travel statisticians and experts estimate that in 2016, there will be more than 480 million global business trips? While for most organizations the ticket in first class may be a distant memory, with statistics revealing that more than 80% of frequent business travelers fly coach, there is no sign of a slow-down in the demand for domestic or international travel.
If you have been traveling for business for a long time, many of the simple rules of etiquette are common sense, but for young professionals who may be starting to travel, a review of the five essential etiquette tips will help them make the right impression with their colleagues or clients.
1. Dress Comfortably
From early arrival at the airport gate to traveling to and from the hotel, travel can take a lot out of you, but it is even harder when you are wearing the wrong type of clothing. Professional, wrinkle free cotton garments that are business casual are the standard, particularly if you are traveling to a warm climate.
Tip: It never hurts to ask a colleague what the wardrobe expectations are for business travel. They can provide some guidelines to help you pack, and avoid the discomfort of dressing too casually for a business trip.
2. Apply Gender Blindness
If you are a male business professional, you may be tempted to pull out chairs and hold doors for your female colleagues or clients. Did you know that the practice can sometimes be interpreted offensively, depending on the culture? Take your cues from other people around you, but be cautious about treating female executives differently than their male counterparts.
3. Maintain Punctuality
Traffic, check-in and transportation delays sometimes cannot be avoided, but the most seasoned business professionals leave early to ensure that they are on time for flights and meetings, regardless of the location. Treat your business travel itinerary as though you were working from your normal office; punctuality matters, and being late is negatively viewed as poor planning or personal organization.
4. Stay Connected
Did you know that WhatsApp is a popular, free messaging service that works in any country? It is the unofficial “go-to” for business travelers who do not wish to incur additional mobile phone expenses. You can also do group messaging, and private or group calls using the handy app. It’s a great tool to keep everyone connected in transit and at busy conventions when teams are separated.
5. Keep Your Energy Up
If you are attending a convention or a tradeshow, or representing your organization at one, fatigue becomes a serious issue for even the most experience business professional. Balance your evenings by networking and attending essential meetings, but make plenty of time for rest, so that you can remain fresh, functional and productive for the duration of the trip.
Another useful tip for business travelers is to invest in an envelop that can be packed in your suitcase. For expense reimbursement it is important to keep all receipts, and a small travel envelop can give you a save, convenient place to organize all your trip receipts. Meals and transportation expenses, as well as any required supply or equipment purchases are valid travel expenses that should be submitted to your employer after you return to the office.