Travelling for work isn’t like travelling for a holiday. Sure, sorting out personal travel can be pretty stressful sometimes, but business travel adds a new level – and even more to think about.
It may seem like your boss is living the high life, but all that travelling for business is exhausting. With a tight schedule to stick to, there’s rarely time left over for sightseeing or soaking up the local life.
Making sure you’re on time for meetings, getting prepared to make a presentation, packing everything you need to work away – all while juggling your job and family life? That’s a big mental load. Leaders and execs barely have time to fit that all in, let alone make the travel arrangements.
Enter their EA or PA to save the day…
Becoming a travel organiser extraordinaire
Making the right decisions for your boss and your company can be tricky which is why travel management companies (TMCs) are usually the go-to for businesses where travel at scale is the norm.
But here’s the good news for internal EAs and PAs: there are lots of TMC best practices that you can borrow to arrange travel for your boss, without getting overwhelmed.
So, let’s get into it: here’s how to arrange travel for your boss like a boss.
1. Get all the details
Even if you only get five minutes to talk to your boss about the trip, make every second count.
Get as much detail as you can about the trip directly from them – most importantly, their personal travel preferences. You don’t want to be asking them whether they prefer an aisle or window seat at the eleventh hour!
Once you’ve gotten as much information as possible from your boss, conduct your own research. Look into the event, destination, routes and accommodation requirements in detail.
Ideally, after talking to your boss and doing some preliminary research, you’ll have:
- a clear list of objectives for the trip: why, when, where, what and who
- a budget
- info about past trips to work from as a base
- a list of who’s going
- all the travellers’ details for bookings (including contact info)
- passports, visas and vaccination statuses
- flight, transfer and hotel preferences
- access to a travel policy or company guidelines on travel.
2. Plan the logistics
Sometimes, you’ll need to work to a budget and get the most cost-effective route, but always keep the trip objectives in mind. Is a day of back-to-back meetings really going to be productive after two connecting flights, a two-hour transfer and no chance to adjust to a new time zone? Probably not.
It’s better to have a rested boss who can deliver a great keynote over an exhausted person struggling to hold their notes up, so weigh up the pros and cons of cost-cutting versus convenience when choosing travel routes.
When it comes to selecting accommodation, researching hotel availability and suitability can be time-consuming – and there are literally hundreds of tools that you could use. Keep in mind distances from airports and meeting venues, proximity to transport and any hotel chain preferences your boss has.
Where possible, cross-reference your company travel guidelines with your planned bookings to make sure they adhere to policy.
At this point, double check the following:
- make sure you know exact times and dates of key events
- plan flights accordingly, with plenty of buffer time for delays
- make sure ground transfers are arranged and don’t leave any timings too tight
- find hotels that match with the traveller’s preferences within company travel policy
- if the most suitable hotel is out-of-policy, log the reasons for this
- collect exact addresses and contact details for every venue and service.
3. Put together an itinerary
Creating an itinerary doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking – but it does need to have all the vital information your boss needs before travelling.
You can add little touches to boost confidence – like hotel ratings and reviews, local restaurants you think they’d like to try or opportunities to relax between work events.
That’s all welcome, as long as you have the core details covered:
- which airport they’ll fly from
- how they’ll get to the airport
- flight times, flight numbers and check-in times
- baggage policies
- ground transfer details
- full hotel information, including check-in and check-out times
- transfers to meetings or events – with locations, times and names.
And don’t forget to reverse the process for the return leg of the trip.
4. Easy access for the traveller
Your boss will need some way to control the trip on their end – a way to manage and track expenses and access their digital documentation (like tickets and booking reference numbers).
If you don’t have a centralised travel management tool like HotelHub, consider creating a Dropbox or a Google Drive file for the trip. Your boss can upload receipts straight to the cloud, from their mobile phone.
Likewise, you can safely store e-tickets, booking references and itineraries directly into the same folder, giving visibility on any device – and provide a space for all the trip information.
Still overwhelmed by travel planning?
If corporate travel is set to become more regular, growing with your company – then it’s time to consider working with a TMC or investing in business travel booking software to manage future travel.