SME Adviser Series: Tips to make the most of your business trips

Travelling for business? Here are eight common mistakes which executives make and how best to avoid them.

Research, published by workplace experts, shows that many executives consider a work trip to be a time to ‘let their hair down’, leaving them often underprepared for meetings and not presenting themselves, or their company, in the best light.

A spokesman for explains: “Many employees think business trips are simply free holidays but there is always a purpose and it’s never to party.

“Just because you are away from the office and perhaps out of the watchful eye of the boss or manager doesn’t mean you can let standards slide. This is particularly true for younger teams.

“It’s worth reminding staff that just because they are away from base they still represent the company and the same standards that are expected in the office still apply on the road.”

Here are eight of the most common business trip mistakes, as revealed by

1. Being underprepared – Preparation is pivotal to a successful business trip, so make sure to research, plan and write the itinerary in advance. Another suitable precaution is to print out any relevant documents beforehand, as Wi-Fi can be unreliable, and reconfirm plans before departure, to avoid wasted time and costly cancellations.

2. Booking a poor hotel – Read plenty of online reviews to pick out the best hotel for your needs, but consider contacting them directly for a better price, and check the location; don’t stay off the beaten track and then spend the mornings stuck in local commuter traffic.

3. Making a poor first impression – Avoid getting off on the wrong foot, dress appropriately; know the context to avoid ‘smart-casual’ when ‘formal’ is necessary or vice versa. Greet with a firm but friendly handshake and smile, to show confidence and consideration. Crucially don’t overdo it in the hotel bar the night before a big meeting as turning up late, hungover and stinking of lager is definitely not going to impress.

4. Getting the meals wrong – Use online reviews to take the host to a restaurant with an appropriate atmosphere and cuisine to start fruitful relationship, but avoid dining in an expensive Michelin starred restaurant or draining the hotel mini-bar and only order room service as a last resort. It is also advisable to have breakfast in the hotel for time efficiency; don’t skip this meal and be under-fuelled for the busy day ahead.

5. Forgetting about receipts – Business trips shouldn’t hit employees in the pocket, so retain all relevant receipts to forward to accounts; if it is not company policy to fully reimburse expenses, they can still be used for personal tax deductions.

6. Being unproductive – Never forget that the trip is for business not leisure – stick to the itinerary or the daily agenda will be unachievable. Don’t waste time on minor tasks that could be completed via email or phone, when other face to face priorities are more pressing. It might be a great idea to take the client out for a meal or a drink but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to get hammered. Remember to act professionally at all times.

7. Staying in a comfort zone – Doing business in a fresh location is a perfect opportunity to network with potential new clients or colleagues and to seek out personal development opportunities. A top tip is to ensure you have a healthy amount of business cards in your jacket or bag.

8. Overworking – Spending a night or several travelling for business should not mean that regular hours are extended; neglecting sleep, food or water does not create a healthy business brain. Of course the company agenda remains the priority, but perhaps consider looking into the local entertainment options in the evening.

By being prepared, timely, proactive and organised on business trips, you will not only be a great ambassador for your business, but you will also strengthen the relationships you have with your clients and prospects. They may even become advocates of your business, making them more likely to refer work to you.

For further information about how we can help you and your SME business achieve your goals and ambitions, contact your usual Beavis Morgan Partner or email