It’s Friday, it’s been a long week and you’re ready to head out. Your traveler casually announces they have just set up four different meetings on Monday—in a city on the opposite coast! What seems like a simple enough request to your traveler can quickly derail the rest of your day, and your weekend! Fear not assistant-warrior, we’re here to help you get out of there and enjoy your weekend without a black cloud of travel doom. In this article, we’ll go over the basic steps for travel planning and address common problems admins face when planning travel and present some easy solutions. Armed with this list, and your newly created traveler profiles, you will be an unstoppable travel planning force!
Step 1: Picking the right flight
When picking the best flight for your traveler, your main priority should be maximizing comfort. Comfort is defined differently depending on the person. Use your traveler’s profile to help determine that definition. However, even after finding the cheapest flight within their preferences, you are still faced with the hardest ask yet: finding the perfectly timed flight.
Any time you are sorting through flights, make sure that your traveler will have more than enough time to get from the airport to their first meeting. Remember, it takes at least 15 minutes to get off the plane and get a taxi, so factor this in when considering arrival times. Use Google Maps to find predicted traffic patterns and factor that in to determine that absolute latest your traveler can arrive. Then, you can use past trips to determine if this is the best option for your traveler or is it better for them to arrive a day early so they can be more rested and prepared for their meetings.
Step 2: Locating the right hotel
Hotel quality is not just in the number of stars, but also in the amenities offered and proximity to meetings and events. When searching for a hotel, use your traveler’s preferences to filter results. You are now left with the list of all eligible hotels. To come up with the best available option, you need to find a way to maximize your traveler’s comfort without sacrificing convenience.
Choosing a hotel shouldn’t stop once you’ve found one that is the right brand with the right amenities. You should take it one step further and find one that is also in the right location. You want to be able to minimize the amount of distance between meetings and hotels, especially in bigger cities where traffic could be a big concern. This minimizes the amount of driving your traveler will have to do in an unfamiliar area as well as maximize their ability to get to meetings and events on time.
Step 3: Getting around on the ground
Between navigating a new location and trying to stick to a tight schedule, ground transportation can be extremely stressful for a traveler. You can help by making sure you pick the best possible transit option for your traveler and the city.
Start by doing some research on your traveler’s destination. Find out how most people get from the airport to the city center. Then, see if Uber and Lyft operate in your traveler’s destination. If they do, you can use their fare estimate tool for an idea of how much it would cost to use these services for the trip. Last, find out how much it would cost to rent a car using your traveler’s preferred company. Now, you can select the optimal ground choice based off of pricing and convenience.
Step 4: Book the Trip
After a flurry of activity, momentary panic, and countless travel sites, you’re almost ready to book your trip. Before you book, make sure you refer to your traveler’s profile and find all of their loyalty programs to make sure they get all of their points. The last, and hardest, step is getting your traveler’s approval.
When you send a trip for approval, always include a couple times or pricing options to minimize the need for back and forth emails. Consolidate all of these options into a single table so your traveler can easily compare and tell you which is their preferred itinerary. When you email your traveler, you can use an app like Boomerang which will help you remind your traveler to review their trip. This will help you get approvals faster and avoid costly delays.
Step 5: Create an itinerary
After you have made your booking, create an itinerary for your traveler so they can have it with them at all times. When you create this itinerary, be sure to include all travel times, confirmation numbers, addresses, and applicable phone numbers. This way your travelers knows at all times where they need to be, when they need to be there, and who they should contact if they have any questions.
We recommend creating a three-column template in Word or Excel with the following columns: time, location, and booking information. When you are adding the times, be sure to list them in the local time of your traveler’s destination. If your traveler is going to be traveling internationally, you should write their address in the local language as well as a Romanized version of the address. This way your traveler has an idea of how to pronounce the address, but can also provide a printed version of the address to any local driver. In the last column, include price, confirmation number, and contact information. Now, your traveler has everything they need in one single offline location.