Hello, dear reader.
Travel may have lost some of the glitz and glamour it once had, but that doesn’t mean we’re animals! When traveling – especially for business – it is important to be aware of your surroundings and respect your fellow travelers. There is never an excuse for bad manners.
Here are a few Business Travel Etiquette Tips to help keep your travel experiences pleasant and dignified.
Book in Policy
Business travel management for a mid-size corporation can be complicated. There are many travelers with many destinations and many different travel parameters. Help your company make the best decisions (for example: choosing the best preferred airline, budgeting travel spend, tracking where and when you travel) by booking inside your travel policy. The rules were established for a reason and can help with efficiency and cost. Your compliant travel behaviors can also help show where the policy may need to be altered to better fit your company travel habits!
Put Up Your Out-of-Office
Traveling soon? Set a reminder in your calendar to put up an out-of-office message for your email and phone. If you won’t be able to respond to people in the manner to which they have been accustomed, provide the courtesy of letting them know why, when they can expect to hear from you, and who they may contact if they need immediate assistance.
Be (Over-) Prepared
Traveling with colleagues for a specific purpose? Arrive with extra copies of your presentation for them to review before the meeting. Download anything you’ll need before you arrive (because you never know what the Wifi connection will be like). Pack a portable charger. A little forethought can eliminate any number of unfortunate predicaments.
Respect Other People’s Time
Be cognizant of the sacrifices others are making to accommodate your schedule, and understand that others have schedules and responsibilities, too. For example:
- Don’t schedule your flight too close to the meeting – before or after. A delay, lost bag, or even a really great business meeting that runs over can put you behind schedule and leave you and your colleagues rushing to make up time.
- Be very clear about what needs to be covered in a meeting – and by whom. That will increase your productivity, and increase the likelihood of a successful, on-time meeting.
- Know your rendezvous time and place ahead of time. Many hotels or office complexes can be like mazes when you’re in a rush, so check the map or the website ahead of time.
Track your Expenses
With all the latest developments in the expense world, this may be the easiest tip of all! Tracking your expenses provides data to your management, your travel team, and helps your expense reporting go much faster. If you are notorious at losing your receipts, take a photo of them on your phone – you’re immeasurably less-likely to lose your phone.
Know the Culture
Different companies have different cultures, across countries or even across industries. Research greetings, currency, and other cultural nuances before you arrive. Are you taking a taxi or a tuktuk? If you’ll be sharing a meal, what idiosyncrasies you may encounter (better safe than sorry!). And when it comes to dress code, remember what Oscar Wilde said: “You can never be over-educated or over-dressed.”
Speak Softly (and Selectively)
Your phone rings as you land. Does the entire plane need to know your pick-up plans? Not unless they’re coming with you. Does the waiting area need to know your pet name for your sugar sweetums? No. As of writing this piece, phone calls are still banned on flights, but that may change soon enough. So let’s practice speaking in our inside voices and limiting conversational topics. You might not mind speaking about private things in public, but your neighbor might mind listening to them.
Quiet Means Quiet
On Amtrak and many regional rail lines, there is a phenomenon called The Quiet Car. It is most usually the first car on the train during high-traffic times, and its rules are simple: don’t talk or make too much noise. That means: no conversations, no cell phones, no boom boxes, no humming Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. At any given quiet-car time, there are plenty of other cars that accept noise-making travelers. And if you didn’t want to be quiet but the last seat available is in the Quiet Car, consider it a personal growth challenge. It’ll be good for you.
Traveling next to another human being while hurtling through the air in a tiny tin can? Odds are you’re packed in real close. Listen to Aretha and R.E.S.P.E.C.T. your fellow passenger. Don’t assume they want to engage in a full life-story recap or are particularly interested in your latest personal-wellness regimen. Keys to look for in a conversational partner: eye contact, nodding, hand gestures, articulate responses that continue the line of conversation. Giveaways that you shouldn’t press a convo: short, informal responses (“not really.” “mmhmmm.” “yeah.”), the presence of headphones, reading material, or neck pillow.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Travel can be unpredictable. You’re relying on extremely complicated transport vehicles to not have any mechanical errors. You’re relying on the weather – an as-yet-still-unpredictable source of mystery and wonder. You’re relying on the biggest unknown of all: other human beings. So be patient, understanding, empathetic, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Because when a giant snowstorm strikes the Great Lakes and grounds your flight, who are you going to blame?
Happy, safe, and dignified travels!