The top tips, tricks and tech that’ll streamline your next business trip, boost your productivity and even save you money!
1 ) Ditch hotel Internet for 3G mobile broadband
Most Australian hotels charge between $15 and $20 per day for in-room internet access. Stay away for just three nights per month and you may as well sign up to 3G wireless broadband, using either a pre-paid or monthly account. The costs work out about the same as a few nights of in-room Internet. For example, less than $100 gets you a prepaid ‘Starter Kit’ containing the 3G USB modem and upwards of 1GB of data. The biggest advantage is that you can use your 3G mobile broadband service anywhere and anytime you want, instead of for only a few hours a night in the hotel.
2 ) Save time and shoe leather
If you’ve got to visit a lot of clients and prospective customers on your next trip, but don’t have to meet them on site, consider choosing a hotel in the middle of the CBD and inviting them to come to you instead.
Yes, the hotel will probably cost more than one nestled on the edge of town but you’ll more than make up the difference by squeezing several extra meetings into time you save running around town.
3 ) Don’t pack it, send it!
Many years ago I was working on a publicity campaign which involved presentations and briefing kits for clients in a dozen large cities around Australia. I quickly learned that packing the kits for each presentation and carting them along on my flight was madness (and this was in the days before airlines started to clamp down on baggage weight). The smartest way to handle ‘leave behind’ materials which will be staying with your clients is to have them sent directly to your hotel via a parcel post or courier service instead of lugging them through the airport and onto your flight.
The same can apply to product samples and pretty much anything else which is bulky and simply doesn’t need to travel with you. Send it from your office (or the supplier’s warehouse) straight to your hotel and you’ll travel lighter and faster.
4 ) Find a favourite hotel chain
The more you travel for business, the more you should look to find a single hotel chain which can serve your needs and earn your business.
Check for facilities like a ‘club floor’ with its own lounge area. This is perfect for holding casual meetings in a quieter environment than the lobby cafe, and also gives you a welcome alternative to sitting in your room during the evening email session. Also determine how quickly the loyalty program will help you quality for free stays.
5 ) Consider a serviced office contract
If there’s a lot of travel to be done, signing up for a monthly serviced office plan is one of the best investments any small business (and even a few larger-sized firms) can make.
In addition to the obvious benefits this gives self-employed contractors and microbusinesses in their home town, the ability to hold client meetings in a quiet corporate environment instead of a cafe or hotel lobby.
Identify your most-visited cities and look for a company with plenty of serviced offices in each location.
6 ) Use online check-in
It’s almost impossible to find a good reason not to check in for your flights online instead of standing in line at the airport. For domestic as well as international flights, online check-in lets you select your seat and print your boarding pass so you’re good to go.
There’s nothing like being able to breeze past those queues and head straight to the lounge or the gate. You can also use the airline’s baggage drop area to deposit any checked luggage.
7 ) Be power smart
You don’t need to buy and bring along a handful of overseas AC adaptor plugs for your laptop, BlackBerry and so forth. Just get the one convertor for the country you’ll be visiting, and bring along an Aussie double adaptor – or, if you’ve got a lot of gear to charge up, a simply four-way powerboard.
8 ) Use Skype
You’ll probably use your mobile phone while travelling around Australia, but when you’re overseas you might want to put down the phone and reach for your laptop. Skype is the best way to slash your roaming phone bill.
Sure, it’s great for personal chitchat – especially over a webcam to family and friends. But Skype also lets you make phone calls to landlines and mobiles for low ‘pay as you go’ casual rates or using a monthly subscription. For example, US$3 per month gives you unlimited calls to landline and mobile numbers in the US and Canada and $9 per month provides unlimited calls to any landline in 20 European countries.
–David Flynn is editor of Australian Business Traveller.