Eight sure ways to screw up a business trip

Business trip
6 min read

There’s nothing better than travelling for work, right? What can be more fun than taking an all-expense paid trip across the world, living it up in luxury hotels with complimentary room-service, only to head out for a night on the town exploring the best bars your temporary home has on offer?

Unfortunately, business travel is not always as glamorous as you might think. Corporate Traveller General Manager Oz Desai reveals some epic business trip failures. He has listed eight sure ways to screw up a business trip, but also offers some solutions on how to approach the trip planning in a better way.

1. Planning your business trip last minute

We get it. Sometimes you find out about a fantastic opportunity late in the game. An overseas conference you’ve been invited to, a potential client that you need to win over urgently, a partnership opportunity that’s better dealt with in person. But, if you leave confirming meeting details too late, this can lead to a few issues.

There’s nothing worse than to realise your client has forgotten that meeting for which you just travelled 10 hours by plane. It sounds obvious, but re-confirming dates and times a few days prior can save you time and embarrassment.

The client’s not always to blame, either. We’ve seen business travellers getting important details wrong. Imagine rocking up to an empty industry event, realising you’re a whole week early (suddenly, it makes sense why your nearby accommodation was so cheap!).

Travel mix-ups happen to the best of us. One of the best ways you can avoid these headaches? Working with a dedicated travel manager who can organise every last detail for you.

2. Booking the cheapest flights

Ever heard the saying: you get what you pay for? It is no different with airlines.

Picture waking up at 3 am, rushing to the airport for a conference in Jo’burg, only to see ‘cancelled’ next to your flight code. You approach the help desk to see if you can get another flight, but the best they can do is in 5 hours’ time. By then, you’ll have missed the event you paid to attend.

We always recommend customers fly with trusted airlines with which they have corporate agreements in place.

3. Not having a clear packing list

One of the best ways to ensure your luggage arrives with you is to fit everything in your carry-on bag. This might be a tad tricky, but it saves the frustration of watching bag after bag come out on the conveyor belt, only to realise yours didn’t arrive. Not the greatest scenario if you’ve booked a meeting straight after your flight.

Be smart about what you pack, don’t leave things to the last minute and be prepared. You don’t want to be the traveller who arrives at their destination with their phone on 2%, only to find their South African charger doesn’t fit foreign power outlets.

Chat to your travel consultant. They will be able to tell you which amenities are available at your hotel. Ditching a towel and unnecessary toiletries can make all the difference when you’re running low on space. And if they have an iron, you can be a little more liberal with packing clothes for your business carry-on.

4. Booking the red-eye flight without accommodation

Sometimes red-eye flights can be a great option; they’re usually cheaper and less crowded. But a common mistake for corporate travellers is not booking the previous nights’ accommodation when they get there.

If you land after midnight at your destination, your hotel booking needs to cover the night BEFORE you arrive, not the same day. Otherwise, you’ll rock up to your hotel early morning, tired and grumpy, only to find out that you can’t check-in for another 12 hours.

5. Not booking the right hotel

When booking a hotel for business, some travellers argue that waiting until the last minute offers a cheaper rate. While true, this strategy also comes with a lot of risks.

For instance, there’s nothing worse than having to travel over an hour to get to a meeting, just because nearby accommodation was unavailable when you booked. Or worse, your only hotel option isn’t in a safe neighbourhood, making the suited-up businessman a prime target.

After location, the next thing to check is those pesky T&Cs. If you’re expecting free wi-fi,’ it’s wise to check that this extends to your hotel room and not just the lobby. Another classic T&C mishap is when ‘late check-out’ refers to a generous 10:30 am – a whole half hour later than the norm. Now you find yourself with hours to kill before your flight and nowhere to store your luggage or sleep before heading home.

If you’re ever unsure about booking hotels for business trips, get in touch with your dedicated travel manager, who will talk you through our SmartSTAY options.

6. Assuming you don’t need a business visa

While it’s usually a simple process, obtaining a business visa for your trip can be a little more involving than your average holiday (for both you and your wallet).

Some countries require a formal invitation from the business you’ll be dealing with in your target country. Other times, the purpose of your trip will suit the ‘tourist’ category. Either way, it’s best to know these things before you reach your departure gate and are denied entry.

To check if you need a business visa for an upcoming work trip, speak to your travel consultant.

7. Not checking your business phone plan before you leave

Surviving on dodgy, infrequent Wi-Fi might be possible on a leisure holiday – the lack of screen time even becomes refreshing after a while – but this is not the case for business travellers.

From contacting colleagues back home to missing last minute meeting changes abroad, having an up to date business phone plan can make or break your trip. That said, not being aware of your phone provider’s data and usage charges can be a sure-fire way to end up with an astronomical phone bill. Your boss might not be too happy expensing that one on the company’s account.

8. Forgetting to leave leisure time until the end of your business trip

Do you have a work trip to London? Why wouldn’t you take annual leave a week prior and enjoy the beaches of Portugal?

The answer is: because you’ll become a bit too relaxed. Remember all those nights spent preparing before you left? You won’t when you arrive at your meeting, and details from your carefully curated business plan are replaced with a peeling nose and rosy face from your pre-work vacation.

Rather ask your travel consultant to plan a few days’ holiday after you’ve concluded your business meetings.