I have always spent extensive time traveling for business over the past 15 years. Even prior to starting PK4 Media, I ran national sales teams with five U.S. offices and our parent company was based in the United Kingdom.
Since launching PK4 Media in 2009, I have spent at least one week per month on the road. In the process, I have lear
ned every travel trick in the book to help make the trip comfortable and successful.
For many entrepreneurs, business travel can be stressful, expensive, and cause problems to the company’s bottom line if missteps are made.
Here are 7 business travel tips every entrepreneur needs to know:
Have a System for TSA Security: Do not be the passenger holding up the TSA line. I developed a system, so you never miss a flight or lose an item. Invest in TSA pre-check or Clear (for domestic), and Global Entry (for international), and always have your ID and e-ticket ready. Place your carry-on luggage onto the conveyor belt first and your laptop bag second. Put your cell phone and wallet into your jacket pocket and place that over your laptop bag. By doing this, you will be on the other side by the time your cell phone and wallet come out, so nobody can accidentally (or intentionally) pick up your sensitive materials. Keep your license or passport and paper boarding pass (if you have one) in your hand as you walk through the X-Ray machine. Once through, pull your carry-on bag off the conveyor belt with the handle extended by the time your laptop bag and jacket come out. Next, put on your jacket, throw on your bag, and start wheeling your carry-on towards your gate. In stride, you can transport your wallet and phone to their normal pockets. With this system, you never miss a beat, and will never be “that” guy in the TSA line.
Prepare Electronics for Continuous Work: From the moment you leave for the airport to the moment you arrive at your destination, it is critical that you have charged devices and Wi-Fi access, so you can work continuously. Use your phone to personal hotspot in the Uber on the way to and from the airport, or whenever there isn’t an accessible Wi-Fi network. Invest in Wi-Fi programs Boingo and GoGo to work in the airport terminal and in the plane once you are airborne. If you get unlucky and stuck on the tarmac, your phone can again be used as a personal hotspot. You can’t count on having access to electrical outlets consistently, so always keep back up battery chargers that can cover your phone, iPad, or any other accessory that you will need between access to outlets.
Pack For Success: Entrepreneurs are often traveling to and from meetings and it can be difficult to keep track of what items you need. Forgetting a belt, tie, shoes, pant suit and the like can cause anxiety – which you do not need while trying to pitch a new client, or impress coworkers – and ultimately make you appear unprofessional if you show up in the wrong attire. I keep a dopp kit ready at all times stocked with the same products I use at home. By doing this, I make sure that I am prepared with the same comforts of home, while on the road.
Plane Etiquette: If you need to use the restroom regularly, book an aisle seat. If you can go an entire flight without getting up, book window seats. Be considerate of people in middle seats. Comedian Jim Jeffries did a bit on plane etiquette that is not only hilarious, but it is spot on and should be adhered to – the middle seat gets both arm rests. If you have status with an airline, always check if there are upgrades available to make your trip as comfortable as possible. Business class could also a good place to network if the opportunity presents itself. You never know who you might meet on the plane that could become a client.
The Best Credit Cards for Travel: There are many great business credit cards but depending on your needs here are the three I would recommend. Delta Reserve, if you fly Delta, is great for helping to achieve status each year, and one of the cards I use for my travel (flights mostly). AMEX Platinum gets you into 1,000 lounges in 500 airports in 120 countries, and free access into Delta Sky Lounges. You also get five-times the points on flights and monthly Uber credits. Chase Reserve is another great card that offers $300 in travel credit, including parking meters for those headed to big cities.
International Travel Tips: When doing business internationally, it is even more critical to set yourself up for success. First, check the State Department’s travel site to learn about any advisories, warnings, passport or visa needs and any shots or medicine you should bring. If possible, sign up for global entry to avoid custom lines. Bring electrical converters which differ by country and region. Learn basic business customs to avoid sabotaging your meeting with a cultural misstep. Learning a few key words and phrases such as thank you, hello and please goes a long way. If you have a serious case of jetlag you are unlikely to perform well during a meeting. To overcome jetlag, build in an extra day before the meeting and whatever you do, on the first night, stay up until at least 10:00 p.m. local time.
Avoid Getting Sick: It is difficult to stay in your routine when traveling. Temptations from room service to the hotel bar can be disruptive. Frequent business travel is increasingly causing illness according to the Center for Disease Control and obviously it is harder to close a client when you are under the weather. To avoid getting sick, you should wash your hands frequently and bring hand sanitizer. If you have the time, try to work out, eat healthy, drink fluids and get eight hours of sleep. When flying, most people like to have a few drinks, but hydrating with water is incredibly helpful when spending extended amounts of time at high altitude.
As entrepreneurs pursue their dreams, they are focused on a multitude of mission critical daily tasks. Having a sound plan for business travel is most likely not even on their list, aside from maybe having a budget set aside. Knowing best business travel practices can seriously impact your bottom line and the tips above are tried and true.
Founder and CEO of PK4 Media, the advertising industry’s first and only Omni-Channel Company