Travel Advice for Business Professionals Part 5
(If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.)
(If you missed Part 2, you can find it here.)
(If you missed Part 3, you can find it here.)
(If you missed Part 4, you can find it here.)
In today’s fifth and final instalment of our travel series, we’re going to discuss how to manage the financial practicalities of travel – from making bookings and arrangements, to dealing with foreign currency and company spending policy, there are many issues to deal with and decisions to make. But there are a few things you can do to minimise the complications, and ensure you have the required knowledge before travelling.
Planning and Booking
For many business travellers, their company or organisation will handle the travel booking – whether it is the responsibility of an administrator or a dedicated travel supervisor, many travellers in larger organisations are simply provided with their itinerary. However, for small businesses or entrepreneurs, travelling for business requires your own organisational skills to come into play. There is flexibility in booking for yourself – so here are some things you need to consider.
If you’re a regular traveller, for business or pleasure, you will know that there is a huge variety of airlines, services and times to consider when booking. When booking for business purposes, book strategic times – if possible, avoid red-eye flights. Though they help you to arrive at your destination far earlier, you may not be as effective in your meetings or appearances that day. It’s a decision you need to make as an individual.
In terms of assistance with booking flights, you may choose to go through a travel agency or a specialist business travel service – or alternatively, there are several websites online designed to find the best deal for the best price.
In last week’s instalment, we discussed the advantages of loyalty programs for flights and accommodation providers – remember to take this into account when booking for your own business trips. Pick a hotel that is conveniently located, comfortable, and in a nice area – preferably one that is close to majority of your meetings, to avoid confusion and the risk of running late.
Again, you could book your accommodation through a travel agency or business travel specialist – but again, there are hundreds of websites designed to help you find a great deal for your accommodation. It may take some time, but it may well be worth it financially to take the time to research.
Depending on where you are travelling, and for how long, you will need to decide how you will get around while on your business trip. Some travellers need to hire a car, while others will rely on public transport options in their destination city. This depends largely on circumstances and location – but it’s something you should seriously consider prior to arriving in your destination. Both options require a budget of some level, so make your decision and do your research. There are plenty of travel resources available for major cities – but if you have colleagues or acquaintances that travel for work, it may be worth asking their opinion, also. Practical information is invaluable.
The issue of finances while travelling is one that changes from company to company. Every business has a different system – corporate credit cards, expense reimbursements, pre-booking and cash transactions and so on. It all depends on the kind of business and practice they choose to follow. For your own travel endeavours, your first step is to speak to your managers or colleagues (especially those in finance and operations), and determine how you will be managing your finances on your trip. There are a few things to be aware of when it comes to financing business trips – especially business trips overseas.
Credit and Debit Cards:
Modern technology allows us to access money, earned or borrowed, virtually whenever we require it. With the swipe of a card, we can pay for products and services, in majority of metropolitan cities across the world. It is possible to use your own bank cards and credit cards when travelling internationally, but be prepared – banks will charge profit margins on your purchases, and will also (most likely) charge significant ATM fees when withdrawing cash – up to $11 for a $200 cash withdrawal.
Travel Debit Cards:
Many banks now offer specific travel debit cards, allowing you the opportunity to pre-load foreign currency onto your card. Unfortunately, you can’t escape the exchange fees – but they’re often comparable to pre-booked currency exchange. The upside is that as soon as you have implemented a transfer, the balance transferred is effectively viewed like cash – it cannot be changed by fluctuations in the exchange rate. Travel money cards do not charge any surcharge for purchases made on the card, as long as you spend in the right currency.
Some travellers still prefer to deal solely in cash – it is virtually guaranteed to be accepted everywhere, and there are no hidden fees or taxes. The major risk with buying foreign currency in cash is the risk of theft – it’s far easier to steal cash than credit or debit cards, and far harder to replace.
These are the three main choices made when it comes to financing business trips – some travellers select just one option, while others use a combination of all three. As the traveller, it’s entirely up to you and your business. But consider having a back-up or contingency plan in place – just in case the worst should happen.
What is your best advice when it comes to financing travel? Any great money-saving tips, or advice from your own experiences? Share it in the comments below! This post also marks the end of our 5-part travel series – are there any other topics you’d like us to cover in more depth? We’re open to all suggestions.
This article was written by Simone Ball on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: