The Top 10 Business Travel Mistakes

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — There is no company training on how to travel with your career future in mind, and that is a pity because what you don't know can cost you - maybe even lose you your job.

Traditionally, in most organizations, the graybeards mentored younger workers on the how-to of smart travel, but, lately, that communication channel has frayed due to generational incompatibilities, downsizing and more.

Gather round and listen up, because here you will discover the top ten ways to go drastically wrong when traveling for business.

1. Flying anything other than non-stop.

That's the advice from travel expert and blogger Chris McGinnis, who explained: "When you take a one-stop flight instead of a nonstop, you double your chances of encountering airport congestion related delays and frustrations."

Make it an unbreakable rule: if you can, fly non-stop -- and know you are much more likely to actually arrive at your destination on time. Even if the ticket costs more, it's worth it.

2. Checking a bag.

Just don't. It costs money, airlines lose them and you can comfortably do just about any business trip with the stuff that can be crammed in a carry-on.

That counsel is underlined in recent tips offered by employees at travel website Kayak, where a top tip is: "To save time, money and hassle, a golden rule at KAYAK is to never check a bag."

3. "Checking the box under the flight option of airports within 90 miles," said Lori Kleiman, author of Fire HR Now (CreateSpace, 2013).

She knows from personal experience when she checked that box. "I took a business trip once and flew to Lake Charles, Louisiana instead of Lafayette, Louisiana. Luckily the people at the rental car company were amazing, said it happens all the time and got me into a car and on the road to Lafayette. I made it to the meeting ten minutes late."

Look at a map. You don't want to fly to Kennedy Airport for a meeting in Jersey City, and you definitely don't want to fly to BWI for a meeting near the White House.

4. Not checking the distance between the hotel and the actual event.

That's the warning from Jerry Jao, CEO of Retention Science, and the point is real. You don't want to spend an hour commuting in a city you don't know.

Often travel agents are driven by costs and whatever corporate rates your organization has negotiated. Push back when the booking is illogical. A hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side does not work for an event at the Javits Center (W. 34th and 11th), period. Use maps and dispute hotel bookings where they make no logistical sense.

5. "Failing to make the best of a free trip to a new destination," said Scott Breon, director of analytics for vacation property management company Vacasa.

Be the business event in New York or Maui, there is so much to do outside the meeting room. In New York, see a play or go to the Metropolitan Museum. In Maui, catch a wave. A big lesson heard from heavy business travelers who have not burned out is they almost always build in a few personal hours to enjoy the destination. It can be as simple as eating the chicken pot pie at Musso and Frank's in Hollywood, a meal you'll remember for years, or taking a long walk down Market Street and having a Bloody Mary at Zuni Cafe.

6. Ordering expensive meals on the company expense account.

That's the warning from Arden Clise, business etiquette columnist for the Puget Sound Business Journal. She elaborated: "The company credit card does not give you license to have a three scotch dinner with lobster tail and bananas flambé. Order mid-price meals."

Spend recklessly on travel, and that becomes your reputation. It's no way to get ahead.

7. Tweet snark about the hotel or the town where you are meeting.

That's just dumb, said Mel Carson, a onetime Digital Marketing Evangelist for Microsoft who now runs his own digital media consultancy.

He explained: "Even if you're not enamored with the surroundings or hotel you're staying in, be careful about tweeting your disdain. People you are meeting or speaking to at [the event] might be following your social channels, so it could get your stay off to an awkward start if you're being rude about their home."

8. Forget to confirm time and location of meeting/presentation the day before.

"[It's] very embarrassing if you get lost trying to find the client site," said executive coach Gregg Ward. "And, if you don't confirm, sometimes clients completely forget you're coming and then you show up and they're nowhere to be found. Unless I want to lose them as a client, you can't berate them. Always confirm the time/location 24 hours in advance."

9. Not bringing an extra shirt.

More advice from Ward is always bring an extra shirt, even on a day trip, because it just is so easy to spill coffee on yourself on a plane, or dribble ketchup down the front eating a fast burger. And it is plain embarrassing to show up for an important meeting with a giant splotch of whatever leading your way.

10. "Don't get drunk," urged Sandi Webster, principal at Consultants 2 Go in Newark, NJ.

She added: "Drinking leads to other 'don't dos' that are not on this list!"

Call this the top must-not-do, So many promising careers unravel with a single intoxicated night. It's tempting, yes, to let go at the reception and swill the free wine and who's counting your tipples at the dinner (probably more people than you think, by the way). Best advice: keep your own count and when you drain the second drink, switch to water. Your career will thank you.

—Written by Robert McGarvey for MainStreet

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