Top 10 Business Travel Tips from a Road Warrior
For over 25 years, I’ve been a road warrior; traveling frequently from coast to coast and sometimes overseas.
With so much travel under my belt, I want to share my top travel tips so other business travelers like you can skillfully navigate the ins & outs of weekly business travel while also ensuring your personal travel is more pleasurable.
My Favorite Things about Business Traveling
Consistency of accommodations and knowing that expectations will be met is critical. Considering the pain and suffering of life on the road, it’s good to know exactly how comfortable your bed will be, the quality of the food and that you can count on dependable service.
It’s also nice to see the world a little bit at a time and go places that you may not pick for personal travel. Who knew how charming and unique so many smaller towns can be all across our country! It also takes you out of your comfort zone and gives you the chance to experience new things, new customs and new places.
Plus, you’re gathering valuable travel reward points with every visit!
My Least Favorite Things about Business Traveling
Sure, there are drawbacks to frequent travel. The wear and tear on your body, plus time away from family and friends. Winter travel requires more layers to clothing to pack and carry, and summer travel brings hordes to the airport. But those things come with the territory and you can prepare.
Expecting the Unexpected
You never know what will happen while traveling. How about the fact that I met my wonderful husband on a flight? Delta Airlines would be proud – Seats 2E and F in 1999. Nothing compares to this, not even my time sitting next to John Elway or James Brown!
Items I Bring Along on Every Trip
- Ear plugs. Not just ear buds for listening to music, but actual ear plugs for noise cancellation.
- My Kindle/iPad for reading, games, content and other time-passing distractions.
- An eye mask for longer flights. You will sleep better!
- A pashmina wrap for chilly moments when those airline blankets simply won’t do.
- Aveda Stress-Fix body crème, a hydrating body lotion with an aroma proven to reduce feelings of stress.
- Almonds as a healthy and filling snack.
- EOS lip balm. Rehydrate those lips after a long flight!
- Hand sanitizer, because those trays, lights, screens and arm rests aren’t cleaned as often as you’d think.
- Gum, for obvious ear pressure issues when they arise. Not to mention fresher breath!
- Ricola Lemon Mint Sugar Free throat drops; both refreshing & helps with dry air.
- A real book focused on work topics because I like turning the pages, writing in the margin and highlighting key passages to share with clients.
- Ladies: travel with shoes/jewelry that don’t set off the scanner to avoid the hassle.
- If you do have to remove shoes because of rods in the heels, bring socks to avoid the dirty floor!
My Best Airport Security Time Saving Tips?
If you’ve been procrastinating about joining TSA pre-check, do it. It will be the best $85 you ever spent, while also ensuring swift security service at every airport. If you have a Platinum AMEX they will pay for the fee, which makes getting TSA pre-check a no brainer!
If you frequently travel airports that have “CLEAR” – use it – you get a personal “concierge” from the beginning of the security line. If there is any line they walk you to the front of the belt and even put bags on the belt for you. Wow!
Be purposeful about traveling times. Avoiding the obvious log-jams of Monday morning and Friday mornings/nights will make your travel life much happier.
The Best Ways to get Rewards/Points
Be consistent with chains you use. (i.e. Marriott, Hilton, Delta, American, Hertz, Avis) Pick a provider for each phase of travel and stick with them.
Sign up for these rewards programs regardless of how often you travel, because it adds up faster than you might think.
Diligently check your points status to ensure you’re getting your earned credits/points.
Call customer service if you’re having a problem and be nice – they frequently give you bonus points for any inconvenience experienced, especially if you’re a longtime member of their points program. (another reason to sign up today to maximize longevity purposes!)
Personally, I stick with American Express for travel – thanks to perks like $200 annual towards travel fees like bag checking, onboard purchases, and more. Amazon also rewards Amex members, and don’t we all buy from Amazon these days?
Why gather points? When it comes to air travel, you’ll eventually earn early boarding, premium seating and other freebies like free flights. For hotels, you’ll get early check-in, late check-out, bonus nights for free and more. Rental companies will provide better pricing and even let you select any car from the entire lot!
Tips on Overcoming Jet Lag & Travel Weariness
Of course, drink lots of water.
Did you know digestion is disrupted during pressurized flight? Minimize the food and you’ll feel better!
Save any drinking of alcohol for the return flight after your meetings have successfully concluded!
Don’t think about the time zone you came from – mentally, live with the time zone you are currently in – make yourself rest or get up with the same routine that you do at home.
Other Airline, Hotel and Car Rental Travel Tips
Desk workers deal with jerks every single day. When you’re nice and patient, it will pay off. “Please” and “Thank You” will get you a long way.
If you’ve got a Platinum American Express, that provides access to airport clubs all across the country! This can more than justify the annual fee with creature comforts raging from snacks and cocktails to free wi-fi and beyond.
Book as early as possible to get the best choices for airline seating. If you’re an “aisle” person, you don’t want to find yourself in the maddening “middle” at the last minute.
Check the difference in airline fare for days/times/fare class – the differences may be minimal from coach to first and might be worth the upgrade!
Download the “app” for every hotel, airline or car rental company. You can often get additional points for using the app to check-in or other tasks as these companies move towards automation.
Hotel Room Booking Tips
I always request a high floor away from street noise, and one that’s close to a stair exit but not the elevator.
There may be a “best view” depending on where you’re going – I don’t care much about that unless I’m staying for a lengthy amount of time – since not in the room much for business travel anyway. But good to keep in mind if you want to see the best view in a particular city!
Bonus Travel Tip
Be sure to sign up for newsletters from your favorite airlines, hotels, car rental companies because there are always points opportunities and last minute deals that you’ll never know about without being on the mailing list.
Safe travels to you all, my fellow road warriors!
Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips
Written by: Shileen Weber
When the American Funds’ Capital Group asked 400 advisors last year to name the biggest issues they face in their businesses, it wasn’t the DOL, market uncertainty or the economy that sat in the center of the idea cloud of answers.
It was client issues.
At a time when regulatory concerns and market turbulence would seem to be at all-time highs, the advisors who answered the survey were most concerned about servicing their clients as well as ways to find new ones and grow their businesses.
It’s one of the ironies of the business, that the things most people find so hard to manage – creating financial plans, managing assets and staying ahead of events – are what advisors find to be the easiest parts of the business. Marketing - the business of selling themselves – can be the area advisors find the hardest elements to master.
In this age of instant communication, it can be even more intimidating to market your practice, especially to younger clients for whom many traditional methods like newsletters, postcards and phone calls don’t work anymore. For them, email is the preferred way to get information, and, if it’s important, they are more likely to respond to texts, not phone calls.
But, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The digital age gives you access to ideas and content of all kinds you can use to touch your clients in a way that positions you as a valuable resource. The key is to keep it simple, stick to some basics and create consistent outreach that clients and potential clients are interested in and will appreciate you sharing with them.
Here is a common-sense approach you can take that will not require you to hire an expensive agency or take valuable time away from managing your clients’ assets and running your business.
Content is King
Create a content calendar for the year: Think about reasons to touch a client 13 times during the year – that can be once a month and on their birthday. (The common rule of sales is that it takes at least 7-13 touches to make a connection.) The number is limited and keeps you from inundating the clients who likely already feel inundated with content. You can take the seasonal approach – tax planning in the fall, January for account review content, college financing in the spring – and supplement it with topical events during the year. Creating a calendar will help you stick to a plan. Here’s one resource for a content calendar.
Review what content is already available to you: Basically, this means finding the resources you already have and determining what pieces will be most valuable to your clients. Start first by checking out content your broker-dealer already generates that you can personalize. Many firms have economists who write regularly about the market. That’s content you can pass along to keep clients up-to-date they would not have access to anywhere else. In addition to your broker-dealer, mutual funds, your clearing firm, and money managers are all excellent sources of informative and even analytical content.
Personalize the content you use: Add your name, the client’s name or some way to avoid making it feel like canned content that you are using just to check the outreach box. See what capabilities your email program may have to help you.
The birthday strategy: One advisor used clients’ birthdays in a new way. Instead of the card or lunch date, the advisor asked the client’s spouse for a list of friends he could invite to a birthday lunch and made it a memorable event that was also a soft approach to getting referrals.
Become a curator of good content: What your review will show you is that you don’t have to generate the content yourself. You can point clients to pieces you find insightful. You are likely already doing this every day just to keep yourself informed. The next step is to compile it and send out the very best pieces to your clients, again, with a note with your own thoughts about why you found it valuable.
Find out what is working and do more of it: Use your client interactions, in-person and online, to find out what types of content clients liked and any they didn’t. You can use tracking on your emails to see how many were opened as a measurement tool, but the personal interactions tend to provide more insight than raw data.
Be disciplined about your execution: Get help from an office assistant or schedule the time each month to do the content development and outreach. As any good strategy, if you make it a habit, it won’t seem so hard.
Most importantly, be yourself and be personal: You may want to regularly get personal by talking about your family and hobbies. The ultimate is if you can provide content that is personal to your clients, not just about their investments – they get that from their statements, apps and online portals. Think alma maters, hobbies, children and parents.
Of course, as a disclaimer, you have to make sure all content and communications are complying with regulations and the rules of your own broker-dealer.
The process of creating a plan will get you thinking about your clients in a new way. That exercise alone can re-energize your business and get you seeing marketing opportunities in places you may never have seen them before.
Shileen Weber is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at GWG Holdings. She was previously Director of Online Strategy and Client Experience at RBC Wealth Management, where they placed first in two JD Power and Associates U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study (2011 and 2013).
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