Want to meet a new client in person? Or get your name out at a trade show? Whether you’re building up relationships with old customers or scouting out new ones, chances are you’ll need to book a business trip at some point in time.
While business travel is important, it also means time away from the office and a (sometimes) long list of expenses. As a small business owner, you’ll want to make sure the benefits of the trip outweigh the costs. The guidelines listed here will help you do just that. Follow them, and you’ll be able to make the most of your next business trip.
Make a Plan
Even if it’s what to wear to the hotel you’ll stay in, planning is everything. Start by figuring out the logistics of your trip. If your destination is within driving distance, decide which vehicle to take and make sure it can handle the miles. For longer distances or international travel, search online for airline tickets. If you’re not satisfied with the prices listed, adjust the dates for your trip (if possible) to find a better deal.
Before you pack, think about the people you’ll be meeting with. Do you know the dress code at their company? If it’s casual, you may not need to take a suit. For formal occasions, however, be sure to dress appropriately. Take comfortable attire that makes you look and feel professional. Dark suits withstand long days of travel better than light-colored clothing.
Finally, spend some time finding out about the city you’re headed to. If you haven’t been there before, research available hotels, modes of transportation, restaurants, and other sites to see. When you get there, you’ll feel confident and ready to get started on your business excursions.
What is the real purpose of your trip? Think about what you want to accomplish. Do you want to build a relationship? Close a deal? Whatever it is, write it down. Then list the steps you need to take to make it happen. Set tangible goals, and you’ll be able to keep track of your progress and achievements during the trip.
Keep It Balanced
Business trips can fall short in two ways: by being overbooked, which can leave you feeling exhausted long before the trip ends, or by simply failing to schedule enough activities. To find the right balance, look through your goals. If you want to get big results from one particular meeting or presentation, take some downtime before the event. Doing so will help you feel ready to perform at your very best at the right moment.
If you have some free time during the trip, consider checking out a museum or a new restaurant. If you have friends in the area, set up dinner with them. And be on the lookout for new business opportunities.
When the trip ends and you’re back at the office, set aside some time to reflect on your accomplishments. Did you reach your goals? Were you satisfied with the results? If you fell short of what you hoped to accomplish, brainstorm ways to make and meet tangible goals for your next trip.
You’ll also want to total up the expenses from the trip. Compare the actual costs with the amount you had budgeted. If it’s more than you had estimated, look into ways to reduce costs on your next trip.
Finally, think about the overall benefits of the trip. How did it help your business grow? What could be done to make the next trip even better? Apply the lessons you learned from the previous outing toward future excursions. In doing so, you’ll be able to make the most of your business travel, time after time.