Americans make more than 405 million long-distance business trips per year, accounting for 16% of all long-distance travel, according to the National Household Travel Survey. And whether you’re frequently travel for business or this is your very first business trip for your company, there are five basic items that you can never leave to chance, or neglect. Of course, if you are up there on the corporate ladder you’ll have assistants who can do most of these things for you – but always make sure that they are reliable and tested.Five Important Things To Do Prior To Leaving On A Business Trip
Just as you’ll get the lion’s share of the credit when a presentation goes right, even if your assistants did a lot of the ground work, you’ll also get the lion’s share of blame if things go wrong – nobody wants to hear that your assistant(s) messed up.
So take notes, you MBA guys and gals – there may be a pop quiz afterwards:
- Do your homework prior to leaving
Find out about the city/state where you will be making your presentation/doing your work. The favorite sports team(s) and well-known historical sights are important to your hosts, and they should be at least important enough to you to keep from making the mistake one young West Coast MBA made when he went to Bismarck, North Dakota, on a business trip, and innocently told his business hosts “Gee, I hope we have enough time to see Mount Rushmore – that’s one reason I wanted to come out to your state!”
- First impressions are important
Make sure you get into town, and to your hotel, in plenty of time to attend to your personal hygiene. For women, this may even mean calling ahead to find a good hairdresser if it’s going to be a long plane flight. Men, don’t underestimate the power of getting a good haircut the day before your meetings start. You may love shrimp scampi, loaded with garlic, but hold off on anything that might turn your breath into a flamethrower until after you’ve sealed the deal/made your presentation. If you’re going to a hotter part of the country, make sure you bring a good deodorant, and make sure you use it. Also pack plenty of extra underthings and shirts/blouses. If you’re not used to humid conditions your body could very well sabotage you with excessive sweating and body odor. And no one wants that.
- A well – rested mind and body are some of the best negotiating tools you can bring to the business conference table.
Make a good night’s rest the day before you leave a business priority. Cut back on the caffeine (and alcohol) the day before you leave, and avoid prolonged exercise at the gym the night before you go. Whether your business is adversarial, competitive, or collegial, when you show up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you’ve already won the first round – giving your business partners/rivals the impression of success already achieved.
- Are you bringing an IT person with you?
If not, it would be a good idea to call ahead and establish contact with their IT person, especially if you’re going to be doing Power Point, video conferencing, webinars, or anything else that is high tech and liable to go ka-blooey in your face. Never depend on your own technical/Internet expertise; the people you will be dealing with may have an entirely different system than the one you’re used to dealing with.
- Make sure to hire a reputable and efficient airport transport service
Sometimes your company will handle this and sometimes the other company will handle it, but you’d best leave nothing to chance. Many a promising business career has been sabotaged when the first-time business person shows up late for that first all-important meeting because his or her transportation was not professional. Simon Chkifati, transportation specialist and CEO of Luxor Limo says “If your airport ride is not at your front door 15 minutes before you ask, with an update on your flight status, then it is time to make a switch.”Many larger corporations have a full-time employee who handles this, but if you work for a mid-size company, or are in business for yourself, always double-check on the airport transport service – especially in these days of wildcat strikes and sudden, unannounced, airport closings.
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