Mastering the travel experience, before, during, and after your trip
Every day, airports and hotels around the world are filled with individuals traveling for business. While some of these travelers are seasoned road warriors, visiting new cities and locations each and every week, some are infrequent travelers who want to get up to speed as quickly as possible on mastering the travel experience.
As an infrequent traveler, you deserve a comfortable, streamlined experience that allows you to enjoy all of the benefits and amenities available. Get in touch with JTB Business Travel before, during or after your trip if you have questions or need support. And read the guide below to get insight into how to prepare and what to do at every stage of your travel.
Before Your Trip
It’s important to start thinking about your business trip well in advance of departure day. In fact, it’s important to start thinking about your business trip well in advance of your night-before packing session.
Here’s a look at what you need to do leading up to your trip related to air, hotel and car:
Pre-Trip Air Recommendations
Infrequent travelers quickly learn, one of the great perks of business travel is accruing points and miles for the various services you use — and air travel is where you can pick up the most. That said, you can’t accrue points and miles if you don’t sign up for loyalty programs.
If you’re not already a member, find your airline’s loyalty program and sign up for a free account. And here’s an incredibly important step: You must add your loyalty program information to your reservation. You should be able to do this through the airline’s website or through your company’s booking tool.
Also, make sure the name on your ticket matches the name on your identification, whether it be a driver’s license or passport. This can be an issue for travelers who regularly use a shortened version of their given name (Chris instead of Christopher, Kate instead of Katherine, etc.). It can also be an issue for recently married travelers with new last names.
Finally, be sure to check-in for your flight at least 24 hours in advance, or as soon as the airline will allow. Check-in is when you secure your seat assignment on many airlines (if you don’t have one already), and you can often access more attractive seat options the earlier you check-in.
Pre-Trip Hotel Recommendations
Just like you can earn miles through your airline’s loyalty program, you can also earn points through your hotel’s — as long as you sign up for it first, and as long as you attach your information to your reservation.
One of the best parts of joining a hotel’s loyalty program are the perks you get once your stay begins. Simply joining a loyalty program could mean free Wi-Fi, access to water bottles, late checkout options and more. The benefits vary from hotel chain to hotel chain. Make sure you find out what perks are available to you so that you may take full advantage during your trip.
Also, consider the credit card you plan on using for your hotel. If you are traveling internationally, you will want to let your credit card company know beforehand. Credit card companies sometimes place fraud or theft holds on cards when they are unexpectedly used in foreign countries.
Finally, consider downloading the app for your hotel. Some chains allow you to check-in from your device, which means you can bypass the occasionally long wait at the check-in counter.
Pre-Trip Car Rental Recommendations
The first question to ask before you trip is: Do I really need a rental car? Depending on where you’re staying and where you have meetings, it may be more cost-effective to simply use a blend of cabs, public transportation and walking. This is especially true in downtown areas.
If you do need a car, check with any traveling companions to make sure they haven’t made a reservation yet. If you’re making the reservation, again, sign up for your car company’s loyalty program. In the absence of a preferred corporate vendor, consider National and its Emerald Club. Emerald Club members can pick up keys at the Emerald Aisle and bypass the pick-up and drop-off counter altogether.
You’ll have to decide at some point whether or not to use the car rental company’s insurance. Ask your travel manager or HR representative before you go. Your company may have coverage that negates the need for anything additional.
And, finally, consider renting a toll pass if available and if you’re traveling somewhere that requires it. Renting a toll pass makes your business trip that much more streamlined and easy to manage.
During Your Trip
Business travel can lead to all sorts of surprises and disruptions, no matter how well you plan ahead of time. For infrequent travelers, this can be a bit disconcerting. All you can do is be prepared to roll with the punches and handle these surprises and disruptions to the best of your ability.
Here’s a look at important air-, hotel- and car-related things to do during your trip:
During-Trip Air Recommendations
It’s always best to carry-on a bag rather than check one. It makes getting in and out of airports that much easier, and there’s zero chance of your bag getting lost or delayed. So be sure to check the maximum dimensions for carry-on luggage via your airline’s website.
You may find that there’s no overhead space available once you get on the plane. Not to worry: A flight attendant can help you check your bag, which may be available to pick up as you get off the plane (rather than at the baggage carousel) in some cases.
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time, whether you’re packing a bag or not. Getting to the airport early gives you time to check a bag if needed, to get through security, to use the restroom, to find your gate, etc. It’s incredibly stressful to be waiting in a security line while your flight is boarding, so get started early.
Consider getting something to eat, too, if you have time before your flight. Few domestic flights offer anything but a bag of peanuts or pretzels. While you can buy food and drink on planes, the options are typically better in the terminal.
If you experience the dreaded delay or flight cancellation, get in touch with JTB Business Travel as quickly as possible. The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner we can provide our Trip Disruption Assistance.
You should have gotten an invoice for your trip when you made your reservation, but keep up with any receipts related to unexpected charges during air travel — bag-check fees and similar expenses.
During-Trip Hotel Recommendations
First things first: Don’t forget your credit card. Even if you entered your credit card with your reservation, the check-in desk will need to see the physical card when you arrive.
If your trip is running behind schedule or you will be arriving late, be sure to let JTB Business Travel know or let the hotel know directly. Believe it or not, hotels will start giving away reserved rooms later in the evening if and when it looks like guests will not show up. If you won’t be arriving until 11 p.m., the last thing you want is to find that your room has been given to someone else.
Once you’re safely checked in, explore the hotel and its amenities. Simply seeing the fitness center when you first arrive can help increase the likelihood that you will actually use it later. Find out what’s good to eat and drink on- and off-site. And, as noted above, make sure you understand your benefits as a loyalty program member — and take advantage of them.
Upon checkout, make sure you get a full invoice that runs down all of the different room rates and fees, as well as incidentals.
During-Trip Car Recommendations
Once you’ve made pre-trip decisions about a rental car, the most important during-trip priorities should be getting where you need to go and getting there as safely as possible.
Most car rental companies will have maps of the local area that you may find helpful. Maps can be unwieldy to use, though, so consider programming important destinations into your phone’s GPS before getting behind the wheel.
Once your trip is complete, be sure to fill up the gas tank as close as possible to the car return center. Again, make sure you get a copy of your invoice — a hard copy or one emailed to you.
After Your Trip
Ah, your home and you’ve survived your business trip. Congratulations! The work isn’t quite done yet, but the good news is that your after-trip recommendations are the same across all 3 categories — air, hotel and car.
First, you’ll want to file your expenses while they’re fresh in your head and you still have accessible copies of all your receipts. Don’t forget mileage to and from the airport, if your company pays for it. And don’t forget the cost of overnight parking during your trip. JTB Business Travel offers expense automation to make filing that much easier.
And, a few days after your trip is complete, check your new loyalty accounts to make sure your points or miles have hit. If they haven’t, a simple call to customer service can typically rectify the situation. But there is a cut-off date for attributing points and miles for completed trips. If you wait too long, customer service may not be able to help you.
Take Full Advantage of JTB Business Travel’s Services
Whether your a seasoned or infrequent traveler, At JTB Business Travel, we are here for you throughout the travel experience — before, during and after your trip. We can help you save money on reservations, rebook flights that are delayed or cancelled, and even streamline the expense process.
Have questions? We’re can help. Get in touch with us anytime about our support for travelers.