Business travel is currently one of the world’s comeback kids. As companies cautiously step out from the shadows of the all too recent global financial crisis, the idea of jetting around the globe to seal the deal once again seems both feasible and – more importantly – necessary. Such trips do however present a degree of risk and it is therefore imperative that they are carefully planned to maximise their potential.
Some of the most important elements to plan are those that the traveller encounters before they even meet their client. Are you booking the right flight? Have you considered a prepaid currency card? How do you plan to arrive at the meeting?
Between the executive leaving their home or office and arriving at their overseas meeting there are choices to be made on how their time is spent at the airport, the level of service on their flight, how they get from A to B at the other end, how their business expenditure is managed and – if the big appointment follows an overnight stay – the standard and location of their hotel.
Some of these considerations may sound like luxuries – the kind of non-emergency expenditures that can make accountants very nervous. But getting these things right is not simply about sweetening the time away from home for the employee or creating an impression of status for the client (although there are of course advantages to both of these potential outcomes) – they are the key to productivity and to results.
Take airport lounge access for example. Spending around an hour prior to boarding in the main terminal or at the gate is by no means a hardship, but one can struggle to feel settled in these bustling settings. You would not expect your employees to feel unsettled at their office desk.
Consider the advantages of access to power points, free WiFi, quieter surroundings for conducting calls in… even the convenience of pouring their own coffee rather than queuing at a chain concession and juggling a piping hot cardboard cup with their hand luggage and manoeuvring the crowds as they seek an empty seat.
The arrangement of a car with driver is another touch that might raise eyebrows in some quarters, but does present its own advantages to the productivity of a business. Your salesperson arrives in a town that’s new to them – do you let them find their own way to the taxis, trains or buses and then endure an over packed carriage or a talkative driver as they try to go over their pitch one last time?
Or do you have someone – who already has the route to the destination well planned – meet them on arrival and guide them straight to a comfortable vehicle where they will be able to engage in as little or as much conversation as they, the passenger, want to?
The prospect of spending on behalf of the business with a foreign currency could be another source of potential stress or discomfort for an employee, as they fret about keeping a petty cash float safe or about overspending.
Here is where prepaid foreign currency debit cards can provide both business and staff with an enhanced feeling of security and financial management. As for hotels – thin walls and vending machine breakfasts may not set your workforce on course for their best of days.