The opportunities for in-person business meetups have been few and far between the past two years. For many companies that used travel to add that “personal touch” to their customer interactions, COVID-19 meant firing up their computer or phone and scheduling a Zoom meeting or personalizing their email correspondence.
But with borders opening and socialization restrictions lowering, business travel is back on the table. Still, with only so much time to make an impression before heading home, you shouldn’t leave anything to chance.
Next time you have to travel for work, remember these steps to ensure you’re maximizing your time and creating a positive brand touchpoint with your customers:
1. Do the prep work. Meetings cost money and time — especially unfocused ones. The University of North Carolina found that 65% of senior managers believe meetings prevent them from completing their work, and 71% said that meetings are inefficient and unproductive. What’s more, Doodle found that poorly organized meetings cost businesses $399 billion in 2019.
With as much money and time that this business trip will already cost, you should take the time to overprepare to ensure you don’t underwhelm. Identify which type of meeting (e.g., informational, consultative, or solution-seeking) you’re attending. Find out who you’re meeting and what your hosts want out of the conversation, and then build an agenda geared toward that objective.
Is it a virtual or in-person meeting? Will it need a virtual solution to pull it off? What other barriers could arise? Go through all these questions (and more) before hitting the road or taking flight. Then, you can land, start your meeting with purpose, and make the most of your brief brand touchpoint.
2. Prepare to spend a little. Studies predict that business travelers will spend upward of $1 trillion in 2022. Flights and lodging accommodations are just the start to the spending, though. Be prepared to spend a little extra with your clients to establish a stronger rapport with them.
Whether you meet up at a cafe, go out to dinner, or go sightseeing, it’s essential to connect with the location and business client and build the connection with your hosts. And if you happen to leave the country, prepare yourself with some foreign currency. Xchange of America marketing director MJ Vogel believes carrying local cash during international business travel can save you when plastic might fail you.
“It’s essential to have local cash currency because you might be taking your clients out for a nice dinner, and you’ll want to carry the amount of cash you think you’ll need plus 30% more,” says Vogel. “It can be embarrassing to have your card not work when impressing international clients, so you always want to have a backup plan.”
3. Find time for yourself. Business travel is a gift and a curse wrapped in one. On the one hand, it’s an opportunity for a positive brand touchpoint between your company and your customers. On the other? They’re an undertaking that takes you away from your day-to-day responsibilities.
According to a NexTravel study, 1 in 3 business travelers struggle to keep up with their workload while on the road. Feeling rushed, overwhelmed, and stagnant isn’t ideal when acting as the friendly face of your company while traveling. Build breaks and boundaries into your travel schedule to practice self-care.
Start with the basics. Make sure you get enough rest. Your sleep schedule and daily routine are both likely to be thrown off when you’re away from home, so make sure you’re at least rested. If you’re in all-day interactions with clients and you feel your social juices starting to wane, go back to your hotel. Eat dinner alone to help get yourself back to normal. It’s in both your and your client’s best interest to be in a good headspace for these business travel interactions.
Business travel can be equal parts exciting and draining. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your next trip by being overprepared, rested, and ready to make it a memorable touchpoint for both you and your client.