Your train was delayed, you forgot your laptop charger and the hotel isn’t as the website described.
You’re supposed to be having a client meeting in your hotel suite, but there’s no chance you can invite a client over now, once you’ve seen the state of the place.
If only you had your PA with you, if only you hadn’t skimped on the hotel, if only you were a little more prepared.
That’s why business trips need an SOP.
Being at peace and confident in your travel and accommodation minimises distractions and eliminates unnecessary concern, allowing your full focus to fall on to the purpose of your visit.
No doubt you will be meeting clients or peers and need to put your best foot forward.
You want to be devoted to your client’s every need and give whoever you are meeting your full attention and best efforts.
It’s important to create an SOP that is bespoke to you and applicable to the purpose of your trips just to make everything run that little bit easier.
For the purpose of this post, we’re going to be discussing an SOP for a client-facing business trip.
Personal Factors to Consider:
When planning your travel and accommodation, it’s important to factor in things that you deem as important to you – your non-negotiables.
Examples of potential non-negotiables:
Once you have your non-negotiables, you can plan your trip accordingly, ensuring that these are accounted for.
Remember, it’s all about maximising the ease of your trip so that you can prioritise the actual purpose of the trip. This may sound a bit selfish or ridiculous, but it’s necessary in order for you to be working as your best self.
Similarly, these are also some other factors that you may want to consider when making your arrangements.
- Family/Personal Life – Are any responsibilities or duties taken care of?
- Disabilities/ Reasonable Adjustments / Illnesses – Ensure you have access to essential facilities or aid that you need
- Personal Preferences – Anything that you need: cleanliness, large bed, desk etc…
If you ensure that your business trip coincides with your personal life as possible, it removes an unnecessary layer of distraction and stress.
If you know your needs are being catered for and that people who depend on you at home are supported, you can focus more time and energy on the trip.
Business Factors to Consider:
Prioritising ease and convenience often comes at a cost, so factor it into the price that your client is paying you for the service that you are delivering.
Don’t cut corners and attempt to lower the price if it risks sacrificing your non-negotiables.
Maximising the attention given to your client means that you need to be your best.
- Who comes with you
Are you planning on solo travelling or taking a team member?
Consider if you having any specialist skills or support would benefit your trip:
- PA – Ensure that everything runs seamlessly for you
- Marketing Manager – Capturing content
- PR Manager – Engaging with people
The logistics behind taking your team can often be based on the nature of the trip.
Consider key things like:
- Duration of trip
- Distance travelled
- Purpose of the trip
- People you are meeting
Ensure you know exactly what you need to take with you so that you’re never unprepared. Sometimes you need specialist equipment and other times just the essentials, but it’s best to keep track of them all.
- Physical documents
- Work phone
Relating to the trip – Perhaps you need to prepare a presentation or a document for your client. Is there follow up work that needs to be completed after the trip?
Other work- Should you need to spend time catching up on the work you should have been doing whilst you were away? Are there any tasks that are unavoidable and you need to schedule in 20 minutes to do it?
It’s no secret that travelling can be stressful. It’s even worse if you’re travelling for work. There’s so many fears of what could go wrong.
Making travelling as smooth as possible is a real challenge, especially when we can’t control external factors.
Consider these elements when trying to create a plan:
|Transport||1. Is this the most efficient and/or reliable mode of transport?|
2. Does this mode of transport allow you to do any work that you may need to do or eat
3. Preferred seats/class?
|Timings||1. What is a sensible time of day/week for you to travel?|
2. Can you shorten the time spent travelling?
3. Do you have enough time in between connections/ wiggle room for delays or disruptions?
4. Is your week planned to the minute to make sure you can fit everything in that you want to do?
|Tickets||1. Who books them?|
2. Where are they stored?
3. When do you book them?
4. Who has access to them?
This is your base, you’re home away from home – so it’s very important.
Maximising your comfort in your surroundings and confidence in the hotel alleviates any stress or anxiety that you could hold.
Consider these prompts when planning your accommodation:
|Location||1. Is this a convenient location?|
2. Is this a safe location?
3. Near to transport?
4. Will you feel comfortable in that location?
|Facilities||1. Do you need a suite to work in/hold guests?|
2. Do you need a good wifi connection?
3. Room service?
4. Conference room?
5. Any other amenities that you might need to keep up your wellbeing routines etc
|Familiarity||1. If you visit the same place each time (i.e London) do you stay in the same hotel?|
2. Are the staff familiar with you and know what your needs are?
3. Is there any reward program that you can access? Or networking opportunities to be had for your loyalty?
We recommend that you then write this out in a SOP template for you to refer back to everytime you need to embark on a business trip to make the trip seamless and spend less time planning the more boring day to day logistics.
If this all seems a bit daunting and you’d benefit from hearing an example of an SOP for a business trip, May shares details of her own in Episode 47 of the Honest Business Podcast. You can listen to it here.
Alternatively, if structured planning and strategy appeals to you for your wider business development, but you don’t know where to start or need a helping hand, you can apply for a Strategy Intensive with May here.