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Hello everyone,

Are there any plans to discuss business trips in an upcoming podcast? I will be traveling in the second half of next year as part of a development program, but I have no idea what is expected of me regarding etiquette and other behavior. I'm not a seasoned traveler by any means, and I've never traveled for work. I'm excited about this opportunity, but a little anxious as well.

P.S. I really enjoyed the podcast on meals. It will be very helpful during the next year.

sholden's picture

Are you traveling in a group or by yourself?

If you are in a group, are you all expected to fly on the same flights and stay in the same hotel? Once you get there, are you expected to drive together in rental cars?

Is your boss going?

How are travel arrangements going to be made?

Answers to these could help focus some answers.

Back on 1999 I was put on a major project but I turned out to be the most junior member on the team. Traveling with the team usually meant I was responsibile for a lot more logistics than I had experience for at the time. But I managed to muddle through it well enough to make most people happy.

Steve

bflynn's picture

[quote="coke"]Hello everyone,

Are there any plans to discuss business trips in an upcoming podcast? I will be traveling in the second half of next year as part of a development program, but I have no idea what is expected of me regarding etiquette and other behavior. I'm not a seasoned traveler by any means, and I've never traveled for work. I'm excited about this opportunity, but a little anxious as well.[/quote]

Off the top of my head, here's the semi-random things that jump out at me from my time travelling. I will probably forget a great number of simple things, but if you have a question that isn't here, just ask someone.

Remember that this is business. You're not sight seeing. If you get an opportunity to see somethiing, GREAT! Its a rarity, not the norm. You're working, not vacationing.

Expect long hours. On the road, many people develop the attitude "lets get the job done so we don't have to come back". If your comrades don't and you get off at a normal time, that's wonderful. If you have to work late, just do it.

Most companies have a policy on employees travelling together or entertaining customers. Ask where yours is if you're not sure. Use it as a guide as to what to expect. Most other employees will know the same rules.

Trust those senior to you to know the ropes and let them take charge. For example, they will almost certainly pick up the check at a restaurant. There will probably be a car rental and they will rent the car. They will choose the flights or arrival time and the hotel. If by some chance, you're the senior person, then before the trip, talk with a peer about the customs at your company.

Expect a longer dinner than you might eat at home. Conversation might not come back to business, but this is very much a business dinner.

Generally, you'll be required to meet downstairs in the morning. Treat that meeting time as sacred and be there 10 minutes early. It is rude to agree to meet and then have to have someone have to call you in the middle of a shower, 15 minutes late.

In the evening, go home and go to bed. I know its tempting to go out on the town until 2 in the morning and I have to admit to giving into that temptation once or twice during my career. You'll probably do it too, but it is still a really, really bad idea. Its incredibly difficult to scream with the eagles in the morning after you've been hooting with the owls the night before.

Above all, be flexible. Be nice, treat the service people with respect and smile. After all, this is fun, right?

Brian

steveaz26's picture

Good inputs from prior posts, I agree with them. One other thing I've found helpful is to be extra gracious and appreciate of your hosts. This goes without saying if visiting customers but is also very important for internal meetings. I've found it to be very useful in building relationships and achieving cooperation in accomplishing your business objectives.

AManagerTool's picture

The rules also depend upon the reason for the trip.

The basics always apply:
1. Be on time for everything
2. Communicate and hang out with the people hosting and traveling with you
3. Don't try to expense stupid things...You know what they are!
4. If someone wants to go to a club (of any type :twisted: )....don't!
5. Call your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/kids!....Whenever you can! Believe it or not, they actually worry about you even when they say that they don't. There are plenty of relationships on the rocks over business travel.
6. Dress as well as you can appropriately dress.
7. Always ask for the emergency row in coach. More leg room!
8. Make friends with ALL the hotel staff. This simple step has saved me numerous times. Finding a great restaurant, show tickets at the last minute, a change of sheets when your pen breaks on your bed at 10:00pm or getting a ride from the hotel limo because your rental car got towed really can save you on these trips.
9. Do not flirt or fraternize with anyone of the opposite sex...EVEN IF YOU ARE SINGLE. You can end up with a reputation for being a road warrior very easily. It is irrelevant that you never did anything to deserve such a reputation.
10. When in Amsterdam/Vegas or some other ?Fun? city, don't have that kind of fun!

You notice the theme? I have seen these things end careers/marriages etc. Business travel does not mean that you can take off the leash and howl at the moon.

xdarrah's picture

[quote="AManagerTool"]The rules also depend upon the reason for the trip.
7. Always ask for the emergency row in coach. More leg room!
[/quote]

And I will add to that #7.

You can make this request when you make the reservation, but the seat can't be assigned until the day of the flight. Most flights domestically (US) will allow you to check in up to 6 hours prior to your departure. It's also interesting that you can try to request business/first class upgrades at the airport using airline miles, sometimes at a cheaper rate than normal. Just be really nice to the people at the counters.

Believe me, I have worked in the travel industry for more than a decade and it really can come down to these tips.

RayShan's picture

I second the idea of working long hours. I usually arrive at the destination city early in the morning (before 8AM), get picked up by car service, go straight to the work site, get food delivered to the work site so I don't have to leave, work there until 10PM or later, driven straight to the hotel, sleep, get picked up in the morning at 8 and doing it all over again. It's not glamorous or fun but you do what you have to do to get the job done.

Also eat before you get on the plane. Don't drink anything on the plane but lots of water and try not to eat whatever they give you. You'll feel a lot better if you have to go to work right after you land.

Mark's picture

Folks-

This is a GREAT start. We have a series of casts in the queue for 07 on business travel, with many of these ideas.

I'll add: don't complain about security. Sheesh.

Mark

bflynn's picture

[quote="AManagerTool"]3. Don't try to expense stupid things...You know what they are!

10. When in Amsterdam/Vegas or some other ?Fun? city, don't have that kind of fun![/quote]

These two struck me as something to follow up on. #3 is deadly serious - people lose their jobs trying to expense stupid things. Like a $60,000 bottle of wine at a french restaurant....a good rule, if you're not certain its ok, its not ok.

On having fun, I realized that I came down a little too hard. If you're in a fun city and want to have fun and you're going to be there for more than week, stay over a weekend. Most of the time, a company has no problem putting you up in a $100 hotel with $30 of food for two more days compared to a $500 plane flight back home for the weekend. Ask your more senior manager, then remember to go to bed early on Sunday and be ready to roar on Monday morning.

Brian

coke's picture

Wow, thanks everyone! I really appreciate all the good advice. In response to the first reply: I'll be travelling with a group of 3-4 more senior people in the company. My boss will not be going, I'm the sole representative from my department. I'll only be making my own travel arrangements, since everyone else has admins to take care of those kinds of details. We are also spread out in different geographical areas, so we won't be travelling on the same flights.

You have all helped me get an idea of what to expect. I won't be setting any of the agendas for these trips, so I'll expect long days, long dinners, and I'll make an effort to be as appreciative and well-behaved as I would be at work. Thanks!

AManagerTool's picture

[quote="coke"]Wow, thanks everyone! I really appreciate all the good advice. In response to the first reply: I'll be travelling with a group of 3-4 more senior people in the company. My boss will not be going, I'm the sole representative from my department. I'll only be making my own travel arrangements, since everyone else has admins to take care of those kinds of details. We are also spread out in different geographical areas, so we won't be travelling on the same flights.

You have all helped me get an idea of what to expect. I won't be setting any of the agendas for these trips, so I'll expect long days, long dinners, and I'll make an effort to be as appreciative and well-behaved as I would be at work. Thanks![/quote]

A quick note about making your own travel arrangements:
Don't
Ask the 4 more senior people's admins to arrange your travel or at least give you their itineraries. Of course, be respectful and use some tact in this as it can be taken the wrong way. This can produce BIG payoffs. Plane rides and other forms of shared transit are a GREAT opportunity to really get to know on a personal level those more senior people. It is exactly how I got to know our COO (my bosses bosses boss...LOL) whom I now play poker with every month and consider a friend.

fcch_mngtools's picture

Just a quick note on etiquette ... (imho)

NEVER meet anyone in your room, ... especially co-workers etc of the opposite sex (unless you want to be number one on the rumeur mill the following week.

To hook up before a meeting etc, call the front desk, have them transfer your call the person's room. A good hotel will NOT give out a room number.

If you must absolutely meet privately, use the business center or borrow a small meeting room. For a 30 minute 1:1, .. most good hotels will lend you one (especially if you've been respectful towards the Concierge).

Business trips are not holidays and as you'll be with seniour people, you WILL make an imression (good or bad).

Good luck

refbruce's picture

A few more thoughts on business travel. Make sure you know exactly where you are going. Do some research so that you know where the hotel is located and where the meetings are -- especially if you have to drive and even if you're taking a cab. Know what the typical cab fare should be. And on that note, never take a cab except one you get from a cab stand at the airport.

Make sure someone back at your office knows your itenerary (and give a copy to your significant other). That should include flight numbers, hotels, meeting locations, and contact information for your host, if possible. Make sure you have a printed copy with you, including the hotel telephone number.

If you've never really travelled for that company before, make sure you have someone explain the expense reporting procedures and what's reimbursable.

If at all possible, ask a local for advice about transportation. They can tell you what routes to avoid, for example.

When problems develop, yelling at people gets you worse than nowhere. Being nice to the folks who work for not enough money in the hospitality and travel industries can sometimes really help out.

At least give the semblance of paying attention to the flight attendant for the safety speech. It's a matter of courtesy. And occasionally, you might really want to know. I've been on a flight, in exit row seating, when we had a full fire truck escort on landing.

Carry a photocopy of your ID someplace other than your wallet. I actually make sure to have a backup photo ID and an extra credit card stashed someplace other than my wallet, so if I lose it or it gets lifted, I'm not in complete do-do.

Don't be afraid to ask questions, particularly of someone who's been where you're going. Ask questions about the dress code where you're going.

If you're going to do this at all frequently, invest in clothes that pack well.

dbeene's picture

[quote="coke"]Wow, thanks everyone! I really appreciate all the good advice. In response to the first reply: I'll be travelling with a group of 3-4 more senior people in the company. My boss will not be going, I'm the sole representative from my department.[/quote]

If you are officially "representing" your department, I'd get some advice from your boss on any business situations that he/she thinks you should be prepared for. You might think of this as talking points or something like that.

Perhaps "sole representative" simply means you're the only person from your department going.

In unfamiliar travel situations, I find "follow others' example" to be useful advice. Obviously, don't do anything questionable or unethical or anything that might impair your performance/judgment. (See other posts for more advice on that.)

There's a lot of great advice in this thread. Take it to heart.

Based on my own experience, consider in advance how you would deal with a situation if one of your fellow travelers suggest you do something or go somewhere "inappropriate" for business travel. It's a judgment call. It's very helpful to realize that awkward or uncomfortable situations *might* arise.