Next time you’re in an airport, take a look around and see if you can spot the experienced business travellers, the frazzled newbies, and the tourists. It’s usually pretty easy to tell each group apart. Experienced travellers have the art of navigating airports and checking in to hotels down to a fine art. Tourists probably don’t care to learn the secrets of status, award travel, and smoothing the gate process, while newbies gradually pick up a tip or two here and there, trying to master the art of business travel.
Becoming at Home Away from Home
If you’ve just started a job that requires a lot of travel, you might be finding it stressful to keep up with your new schedule. The thought of a SAP conference in Atlanta this week, an expo in Germany next week, and then a trip to Singapore the week after might sound exciting at first, but when a bag goes missing or a flight gets delayed, the excitement can turn to confusion and frustration pretty quickly.
The secret of successful business travellers is that they understand how the system works. They know how to navigate airports quickly, and they know how to get the best upgrades and perks from the airlines and hotels they use. This means that they travel in comfort, and arrive at that SAP conference or client meeting awake and ready to work. Here’s a few tips to help you do the same:
- Use the same airline (or airline alliance) as often as possible to maximise mileage
- If you have status, try to use it for upgrades – the extra leg room makes all the difference
- If you have status, make use of priority gates and lounge access. It makes navigating the airport much quicker and less stressful
- If your flight gets delayed, call customer service while you stand in line – you might get an answer from them before you even finish queuing to speak to the gate agent.
- Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to slip on and off, this makes passing through security a lot quicker
- Buy travel toiletries so you don’t end up throwing stuff away because you forgot to take your big bottle of shampoo out of your toiletry bag
- Try to eat and drink before going to the airport – you’ll pay less and get better refreshments for it
- Dress comfortably, it’s going to be a long day
- Take a photo of your hotel room door so you don’t forget what room number you’re staying in
- If you’re going to be at the same hotel every week, consider dropping stuff off at a local dry cleaners so that you don’t have to carry it back with you
- Be nice to the hotel staff, they’ll remember you
- Whether you’re going to a SAP conference or a general trade expo, take far more business cards than you think you’ll need. You will run out.
- Go to the show parties, they’re good for networking
- Moderate your alcohol intake, you’ll be surprised how tiring conferences can be, and alcohol makes it worse.
This article was written by James Harper on behalf of UK & Ireland SAP User Group, organisers of SAP conferences. Visit their website to find out more about SAP conference.