Business travel can be a massively complex undertaking, both for travelers themselves and for the support teams managing it.
If you’re responsible for another person’s travel, no one expects you to keep every detail straight in your head – especially if you’re juggling multiple travelers and multiple trips. But if you want to be seen as an all-star travel planner, you do to have a firm grasp on the relevant details. That’s what makes strong travel documentation a “must have” for engaged assistants.
In advance of any upcoming business travel, compile the following travel profiles and briefs to make your life easier and to help keep your travelers safe and prepared abroad:
The Traveler Profile
One of the best weapons in your arsenal as an executive travel manager is the travel profile, which provides a centralized resource for the executive’s key details and preferences.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- The traveler’s personal information and contact details
- Airline preferences and rewards accounts
- Hotel room preferences and loyalty programs
- Car service and/or rental preferences
- Dietary needs and preferences
- General travel requirements
- Traveler notification requirements
- Health information (such as allergies)
- Key emergency contacts (such as family members, adult children, etc.),
- Scheduling preferences such as meal times or whether they’ll need time to call home to young kids every evening.
One nice complement to add to your traveler profile is a copy of your executive’s key documents, such as their driver’s license (front and back), passport, health insurance card, or employee ID.
Store digital copies of these documents along with a copy of your traveler profile in a secure online system like Dropbox so that they can be accessed by your executive from anywhere in the world, should an emergency arise (or if they lose track of the paper copies you so helpfully printed out in advance). Depending on the level of trust you have with your executive, it may also make sense to include copies of credit card numbers, prescription information and key passwords as well.
The Travel Brief
“Travel brief” means different things to different people. For some, it’s simply a round-up of travel details pertinent to the immediate trip, such as:
- Trip objectives and key success factors: what is your traveler trying to accomplish with this travel?
- Travel participants: who will be involved at each step?
- Detailed itinerary of each day of the trip, with addresses, contact information, departure times, travel time estimates, hotel locations and reservation numbers
- Travel plans with specifics including flight numbers, airline, departure & arrival times, seat numbers
- Ground service details including pickup & drop-off times, driver and vehicle information
- Event registration numbers, schedule and map details
For others, it may also encompass:
- Local emergency numbers (such as to the police, the nearest hospital or the U.S. Embassy)
- City or regional maps or subway maps for key travel areas
- Restaurant reservations and/or suggestions
- Research on area amenities your executive may enjoy (gym, bar, yoga, etc.)
- Travel safety brief specific to the trip or location in question
- General travel safety guidance, as provided by your corporate security team
- List of key stakeholders who will be notified of travel plans, such as family members or other team members
When your executive is traveling internationally, additional information may be required:
- Key cultural considerations, such as behavioral norms and standards of dress
- Information on pertinent local laws, such as those regarding driving internationally
- Travel instructions, such as our flyer on how your executive can successfully connect with their driver
Planning Ahead for Business Travel Success
Compiling this documentation for every trip your executive takes may seem excessive, but much of it will stay consistent from trip to trip, requiring only minor changes once your core brief is in place. You may not even need every component described here, but it’s better – as a general rule – to be over-prepared, rather than under-prepared.
Beyond the obvious benefits of being prepared, staying on top of the details of business travel demonstrates your potential to stretch into arenas of greater responsibility.
Travel plans inevitably go wrong at some point – and when they do, they often do so in spectacular fashion. What matters is how you handle those situations when they go south. Being able to navigate them calmly, cleanly, and with grace is what separates out truly great assistants from the rest.
Have you used traveler profiles and briefs to support your executives’ trips? If so, share anything else you include in them by leaving us a comment below.
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Mr. Sullivan is a Director of Operations, whose hands-on involvement in Savoya’s client care processes gives him direct insight into business travel best practices.