There are two schools of thought when it comes to business travel. For some professionals, traveling for business is a necessary evil, one that takes you away from the comforts of home and loved ones. For others, business travel provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to visit new places, meet new people and collect memorable experiences (and travel rewards).
If you fall solidly in the second camp, it’s important to learn how to get the most out of business travel, including collecting and utilizing travel rewards. Getting the most out of the wealth of available business travel rewards is one way to lessen the pains of corporate travel and perks can reduce the stress of travel while helping you earn travel rewards for use towards future trips. Tulsee Nathu, a hospitality specialist who was part of Hotel Management’s Thirty Under 30 list in 2018, shares the best methods for enhancing your business travels.
Travel Rewards Programs
Travel rewards programs were created to increase customer loyalty to one brand, from airlines to hotel chains. By researching the best corporate travel rewards programs and aligning those with the recommended companies your employer approves for use on business travel, business travelers can earn luxurious travel rewards, including points and perks for future personal and business trips. Tulsee Nathu explains that airline rewards programs offer travels early boarding, free or reduced luggage fees, complimentary drinks and snacks, in-cabin entertainment, and airline miles that can be redeemed for future trips. Picking one airline and racking up the travel miles can go a long way to improving future travel experiences. It’s best to research the airlines that fly to your preferred destinations and that offer the rewards you are looking for, to make sure you earn and use the rewards to the best of your advantage.
Rental Car Loyalty Programs
Most rental car companies offer perks for business travelers and their own loyalty programs. If your employer provides a corporate account with a preferred vendor, you can access travel rewards like vehicle upgrades and free GPS mapping systems, as well as instant curb-side check-in services to reduce the time it takes to get you on the move and to your final destination. If you use a personal account, your loyalty to one brand can help you earn rewards faster. Tulsee Nathu notes that corporate rental accounts can provide additional auto insurance coverage, so make sure you understand your company’s accident coverage before you pay for increased fees from the vendor that were unnecessary.
Business Travel Lounge
One major airline perk for business travelers is the business travel lounge available to business travelers at most major airports around the world. If you are traveling business class and are a member of the airline’s rewards program, you can wait for your flight in luxury, with free foods and drinks, excellent customer service, and a selection of newspapers and magazines at your fingertips. Tulsee Nathu knows from experience that waiting in a quiet business lounge with free Wi-Fi, printing and other business services; rather than in a busy airline terminal; will help get your business trip off on the right foot and provide a quiet place to work on the go.
When you register as a hotel rewards member, companies offer free breakfast, business traveler lounges and services, and happy hour specials. Some hotel brands catering to business travelers provide specific floors for corporate account holders, providing a more relaxing and quiet stay. If you have a busy travel schedule, knowing your hotel offers these rewards can help reduce travel stress. In addition, many hotel chains offer free Wi-Fi for business travelers, so check before you charge.
Explore Your Destination
One of the biggest perks to business travel is the wealth of new experiences you gain from traveling to unique places and meeting and working with diverse colleagues. Even if you can only get away for a few hours of leisure time during a business trip, visiting somewhere new provides the opportunity to learn whether you’d like to come back in the future. By doing research beforehand and asking your local colleagues for recommendations on what to do, where to eat, and where to stay; you can get an insider’s look into your business travel destination and add it to the list of places you’d like to travel back to in the future. Tulsee Nathu explains that savvy business travelers add a leisure day or two at the beginning or end of a business trip for an inexpensive way to scope out new places to travel as well as giving them a chance to unwind either before or after a long plane trip.
If you are an inexperienced or stressed-out traveler, investing in travel accessories can help reduce the stress of business travel. From noise-canceling headphones to travel pillows, the top travel accessories can really improve your trip. This goes for travel attire as well. If you spend a lot of time on the road, it’s worth the investment into comfortable travel attire (and shoes), as well as appropriate luggage sizes to make sure you are comfortable throughout the trip. In addition, planning your travel in advance provides the opportunity to pick your preferred seating arrangement and select flights that minimize layover time. Arriving to the airport or train station early will help minimize travel stress and US government trusted traveler programs can also reduce the wait time at TSA screening checks and minimize travel anxiety.
Work on the Go
One major cause of business travel strain is the amount of work that can accumulate while you are away. To maximize the amount of work you can accomplish while traveling, utilize airline in-cabin Wi-Fi combined with business class lounges and free hotel Wi-Fi perks to make sure you have the tools you need to work on the go. Tulsee Nathu states that this allows you to not have to worry about playing catchup when you land after a long flight.
Travel Rewards Credit Cards
In addition to travel rewards programs, there are many travel-specific credit cards out there that can help increase the rewards earned for each business trip. If your company allows you to purchase travel expenses on your personal credit card, make sure you are using a card that provides useful rewards and benefits. Travel credit card rewards programs can help you increase the amount of airline miles you earn per trip and some provide additional travel perks as well.
Finally, one way to reduce travel stress and improve your business trips is to ensure that you get enough healthy food and exercise while on the go. Don’t let work travel impact your diet or exercise plans. To accomplish this, plan exercise and meals into your busy schedule and pack the work-out essentials you need. It’s important to research safe running routes and ask a local (like the hotel concierge) for safe exercise locations; and exercising while traveling is a great way to see the city from a local’s view.
In conclusion, Tulsee Nathu believes that there are lots of ways that you can enhance your business travels so that the thought of a business trip is now one that can potentially be an exciting event in your year.