5 Ways to Set Yourself Up for a Productive Business Trip

5 Ways to Set Yourself Up for a Productive Business TripOriginally posted on March 22, 2017

You’ve scheduled client meetings and packed your suitcase, but getting ready for a business trip doesn’t end there.

Taking a few additional steps — such as checking Wi-Fi reliability and downloading travel apps before you leave — can help make business travel more efficient and productive, according to the most recent GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ Global Report, in partnership with American Express. The report surveyed 3,220 full- and part-time employees who travel for work in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States.

If you’re looking for ways to squeeze as much as possible out of work trips, here are some types of support that surveyed business travelers say helps keep them productive on the road:

1. Book hotels, airlines and trains with reliable Wi-Fi.

Business travelers want their Wi-Fi. More than three quarters (77%) of employees surveyed say access to reliable Wi-Fi is vital to staying on top of work when they’re away from the office. Travelers also cite lack of reliable Wi-Fi as the most frustrating part of work trips (21%), ahead of pain points such as getting from place to place (17%), reporting expenses (15%), making or changing travel plans (12%) and not getting reimbursed for travel expenses in a timely manner (10%). Travelers are most satisfied with Wi-Fi offered by hotels (83%), and less so with service on airplanes (49%) and trains (48%), according to the report.

Travelers can use dedicated websites and apps to research the reliability of hotel Wi-Fi in advance of booking a room or once they’ve checked in. Certain sites can also be used to look up or test Wi-Fi strength in public venues such as restaurants and cafes.

Some airlines share information on their websites about Wi-Fi availability on the aircraft models they operate or you can use third-party services to find out if Wi-Fi is available for specific seats on specific flights. Another option can be to ask your corporate travel department to look into Wi-Fi availability and reliability for you.

2. Download travel apps to your mobile device.

Mobile apps are becoming popular business travel tools as more people are getting company-issued devices. Seventy-three percent of travelers get smartphones and 35% get tablets, according to the report.

Make the most of the mobile devices you bring on business trips by downloading apps that keep you updated on appointments, let you browse conference schedules or provide information about places you’re visiting. More than half (55%) of business travelers agree that mobile apps from travel suppliers, event organizers and travel destinations enhance their time on the road. Those sentiments are even stronger for travelers from Mexico (69%), the United States (64%), Millennials from all countries (59%), and employees at mid-size companies (58%).

About two-thirds of people who travel for work (67%) check trip itineraries on their mobile devices one or more times a day, a number that’s even higher in Hong Kong (78%) and Mexico (77%), for Millennials (74%) and GenXers (70%), and for employees of mid-sized companies with 100 to 999 people (76%).

3. Connect with colleagues on social media.

Social media has become a business travel mainstay, with GenX and Boomer business travelers joining Millennials in using social networks to connect with business associates, clients and friends while traveling for work.

More than one-half (54%) of all business travelers use social media at least once a day for business purposes, with Millennials more likely to check social media sites at least once a day (67%) than GenXers (56%) or Boomers (34%). Employees in Hong Kong (81%) and Mexico (79%) are the most likely to use social networking at least once a day when traveling.

Fifty percent of all business travelers use social media to read reviews of hotels, restaurants or other travel suppliers, while 46% use the networks to meet up with colleagues or business contacts. In most respects, company size has little effect on employees’ social media use on work trips.

4. Submit expense receipts electronically.

Submitting expense receipts for hotels, rental cars, meals and other business travel expenses electronically can save time and help eliminate the hassle of hanging onto paper receipts.

Even though business travelers still submit trip expenses as print-outs or hard copies more than in any other form, paper submissions are declining at the same time use of electronic receipts is on the rise.

Use of printed expense receipts dropped to 40% from 45% in June 2016, according to the report. During the same period, travelers submitting receipts electronically rose slightly, to 25% from 22%. Electronic expense receipts are catching on even more with Millennials (31%), and in certain parts of the world: 67% of Mexican business travelers use them, as do 43% of travelers from Hong Kong.

Travelers say submitting receipts electronically is the biggest contributor to their satisfaction with expense reporting (55%), ahead of using expense management software (41%) or using an expense management app (32%), among other factors.

Business travelers can choose from a variety of options for electronic expense receipts, including apps tied to corporate credit cards such as Concur.

5. Pay with mobile wallets linked to a corporate card.

Since you’ll likely be traveling with your phone on hand, consider paying for travel-related expenses with a mobile wallet. A mobile wallet is an online or smartphone -based digital payment system that’s tied to a corporate, personal or debit card, eliminating the need to carry a physical card.

Only 14% of travelers overall use mobile wallets linked to corporate cards, but the electronic payment method is gaining favor within some segments. For example, 20% of business travelers from Hong Kong prefer mobile wallets tied to corporate cards over other payment forms for work trips.

Mobile wallets tied to corporate cards are also the payment method of choice for 19% of business travelers from Mexico, and 17% of GenXers and mid-sized company employees, respectively.

For more business travel insights, download the full GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ Global Report – January 2017, in partnership with American Express.

The information contained in this content is for generalized informational and educational purposes only and is not designed to substitute for, or replace, a professional opinion about any particular business or situation or judgment about the risks or appropriateness of any approach for any specific business or situation. THIS CONTENT IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE USED FOR PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS ADVICE. The views and opinions expressed in this content do not necessarily represent the views, opinions and/or judgments of American Express Company or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions (including, without limitation, American Express Global Commercial Payments or American Express OPEN). American Express makes no representation as to, and is not responsible for, the accuracy, timeliness, completeness or reliability of any opinion, advice or statement made in this content.