- Time spent arranging travel is time you could spend generating income
- Work while you travel, or book a late train so you can get more done in the day
- Do you really need a gym or exclusive restaurant in your hotel?
- If travelling abroad, take a look at the UK Trade and Investment guides to doing business in that country
For many entrepreneurs, business travel is an important part of running a company. In the modern world, there are opportunities outside your home city or country that you need to explore if you are going to make the most of your enterprise.
But your first business trip is something of a step into the unknown and can be a little daunting as a result. What’s important, however, is to treat it like any other aspect of your business and plan thoroughly before you set off.
“The cost of travel starts as soon as you decide you need travel,” says Mark Bowers, Chief Executive of travel management company Redfern Travel. “Spending six hours trying to save a fiver on the cost of a ticket isn’t a productive use of your time.”
The whole picture
Entrepreneurs should be encouraged to go beyond simply thinking about the ticket price. “Say you want to travel between Manchester and London,” Mark says. “It may appear cheaper to fly, but are you going to be working en route? On a train, you can get a good two hours work done and, if you can’t on a plane, you’re losing money.
“Think also about the time spent in the airport at each end, and travelling through the city centre when the train would have delivered you there in the first place.”
You can apply the same principle to hotels. “Getting a cheap room is great – but not if it’s ten miles from where you need to be the next morning,” Mark says. “Look at what you really need. Are you going to use the gym and brasserie of a hotel if you’ll only be there for ten hours – eight of which you’ll be asleep? Think about what’s essential to see you through your time at the hotel and consider the budget brands.”
Look in the guidebook
Once you’ve purchased the most suitable travel and accommodation possible, it’s time, if you’re travelling abroad, to familiarise yourself with the destination. A good place to start is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, which includes ‘Know Before You Go’ information. Users can browse through travel advice about every country in the world.
There is also business advice on the UK Trade and Investment website. You can search by country, each of which has its own downloadable ‘doing business’ guide. “The overviews of business etiquette, banking hours and health requirements are particularly useful,” Mark says.
In the current economic climate, these factors are more important than ever. “People are more disciplined about what they spend,” Mark says. “If they need to leave a meeting to catch a plane or train, they’ll leave the meeting. There’ll be no mass return to first-class travel. In fact, if your clients see that you’re travelling first class, they may perceive that you’re overcharging.”
Redfern Travel offers an online travel management service.
Make sure your existing travel insurance policy covers business travel.
Find out more about Hiscox Travel Insurance.