Wheels up! Tips for Work Travel

At Double Forte, our employees (at all experience levels) travel a fair amount on behalf of our clients and for the agency itself; be it conferences, trade shows, networking engagements – the list goes on. I’ve had my share of successes and ‘oh shoot’ moments while traveling for business. Misplaced your computer charger on the road? There’s likely an easy solve for that. Missed your flight to meet your client? Little trickier of a scenario. There are endless tips and hacks to make work travel a smooth and enjoyable experience: not just for you, but for your teammates and your clients too. After all, everything we do, whether we are working from the office or working from the road, represents our agency and our clients.

Here are three essential tips for making work travel as seamless and successful for you as possible:

Hard and soft copies of documents. A printed boarding pass may seem archaic in our digital age, (I’m looking at you, millennials!) but here’s the unavoidable truth: phone batteries die. I will go to great lengths to avoid the panicked rush of heat to my cheeks when approaching the front of the security line, only to be turned away because I didn’t have an operational boarding pass. This is 10x more panic-inducing when traveling with a colleague or client because your time is also their time.

The electronic (soft) and hard copy tip also applies to any documents needed for your work event. Wi-Fi is unpredictable, as is access to a business center/printer depending on where you are staying. So, give you and your team peace of mind by having multiple copies of all documents (scripts, messaging, briefings, run of shows, itineraries etc.) saved on your desktop, flagged in your email and printed and packed in your carry on.

Follow up with vendors when shipping materials for events. This tip may sound either very obvious, or very ‘paranoid publicist.’ But trust me. (Also, quick side note here: it’s our job to be paranoid publicists behind the scenes. We need to think through every scenario and have a plan a, b, and c, so that our clients and our spokespeople don’t have to.) We coordinate many events for our clients across all of our practice groups at Double Forte. Often times, our event activations require multiple shipments of products and props depending on where our event is taking place.

Call your hotel or accommodations and make sure the concierge, doorman or event coordinator on the ground understands you will be receiving a shipment of X amount of boxes, and when you will need to access them.

Ask about their holding policy if boxes are scheduled to arrive before you do arrive. Some hotels charge storage fees, some won’t accept a package if a guest isn’t checked in. If and when possible, label or number the outside of your shipments so you know how many boxes should be accounted for upon arrival.

There’s a lot to unpack (pun intended) with this tip, so feel free to leave any questions in the comments section.

Expenses and Attire. I believe the responsibility falls on the manager to be sure your team knows the dress code for the components of the trip. This includes the actual event (media briefings, client dinner, conference, panel etc.) and also the behind-the-scenes time leading up to the event execution. For those of us who have boarded countless flights in our career, it is easy to forget that business travel is exciting, but also a little nerve-racking for junior staff who may not have experience traveling with colleagues and clients.

Not only is it important to set expectations about what to wear for the actual event, but it’s also helpful to let team members know it’s okay to dress comfortably during event prep, or if you’re on a long flight. There is no need for someone to show up in their 3-piece suit or kitten heels if you are assembling goodie bags or lifting heavy boxes ahead of the client / media / guests’ arrival. Same conversation and expectation setting applies for expenses while travelling. Let your team know what they can and cannot expect to be reimbursed for while travelling. Remind freshly minted travelers to save receipts (if needed) as well as client or agency policies on food/alcohol stipends.

And hey, if you’re the proud carrier of a corporate card, be the teammate the picks up the tab(s). Your fellow travelers will appreciate it. For those readers who might be embarking on their first trip, don’t feel intimidated to ask about dress code and expense policies if your manager hasn’t brought it up.

Remember, you are representative of the brands and the businesses for which you are traveling. Be organized. Be communicative. Think through scenarios. Provide guidance to your team. Ask questions.

Happy Trails!