Business travel is alive and paying off
With the rise of conference-calls and video-conferencing systems like Skype, Google Hangouts, it may seem like the days of face-to-face are numbered. But a number of business leaders and industrial psychologists reckon that there’s no substitute for meeting someone in person, especially at critical junctures in a business relationship, like introducing yourself or closing a deal.
So how do you make business travel easier and worth your while? Shaun Pozyn: Marketing, Loyalty and Customer Experience Head for British Airways (operated by Comair) suggests the following:
Maximise the business benefits: Pozyn says that business travel can benefit the individual traveller and their business, whether it’s a small enterprise or a multinational conglomerate. British Airways On Business for example, enables your enterprise to earn points when you travel on BA, Iberia and American Airlines, and you’re entitled to members-only offers and discounts. British Airways’ Executive Club enables you to graduate to higher tiers where you can, for example, get cabin upgrades and access to business lounges (more about those in a moment, he says), and use the points to, say, take your family on holiday with you.
Go paperless: Chances are that you already use apps like ba.com to check in online and stash your boarding-pass,
Take a breather: Airport lounges provide a haven from the hubbub of departure-lounges, but not all are equal by any means. The best ones have space for some work, fast wi-fi, a good selection of food, a decent wine-list, and facilities to shower and freshen up. The Slow Lounges at a number of South African airports have these facilities, and there’s even one at the Radisson Blu Hotel opposite the Sandton Gautrain station, which provides boardrooms, lounges, and can arrange for quiet areas to do media interviews. A new one has also opened at Lanseria International Airport and has, among its many attractions, wine-tastings offered by local drinks specialists Winesense.
Add some colour: Many business travellers will go to great lengths to ensure they only travel with cabin-luggage, but if you do have to check luggage into the hold, take a moment to familiarise yourself with bag-drop arrangements and any restrictions on the size of cabin-luggage. Also, many travellers find it helpful to mark their luggage with a brightly-coloured tag of some sort that makes it readily recognisable on the conveyor.
Stash it all: So, you have your boarding-pass on your smartphone and you’ve stashed keys, wallet and change in your carry-on baggage, to save you time passing through the metal-detectors at the security checkpoint. If you’re travelling internationally, you may have opted to wear slip-on shoes and to pack your belt in your carry-on luggage to avoid having to take them off and put them back on again at security. We’ve all stood behind fellow travellers who arrive at the checkpoint with coins and keys in every pocket, and electronic devices in the bottom of a suitcase. There’s not much you can do about that, but you can make your own passage through the metal-detectors easier.
Lastly, remember to rest: Pozyn says many business travellers tend to put in more working hours when away from the office and home. Rather than thinking that every mail in your inbox must be answered immediately, get some work-life balance by taking a walk or a run, or just a cat-nap.