After having been ‘locked down’ at home for months, most savvy business travellers are keen to ditch Zoom and Netflix and swop their comfy tracksuit pants for a high-powered suit once again.
For those women who are ready to brave the skies, FCM South Africa General Manager Bonnie Smith, FCM Operational Leader Mummy Mafojane and Sue Garett, General Manager Product and Marketing for the Flight Centre Travel Group share a few travel hacks and insider tips that will streamline the ‘new normal’ travel experience. To be fair, most of these tips can also work for the gents, so feel free to read on even if you are in possession of a Y-chromosome…
- Keep it simple: be informed, not overwhelmed
Mafojane recently experienced first-hand what travel is like in a COVID-19 world. She booked a trip from Johannesburg to Durban and reported her experience on video to share with FCM clients.
Mafojane admits that she felt insecure before setting off on her business travel adventure. “The information overload ahead of my travels created a certain level of anxiety for me,” she admits. “I felt as if I would be under constant scrutiny and that I would need a mountain of forms to travel. The reality was very different. So, my message to clients is, keep calm, it’s actually pretty simple.”
Mafojane explains she needed just one simple form to travel.
- Pack wisely
Face masks, sanitiser and a few spare pens (to fill in forms) are top of the packing list for business travellers in a COVID-19 time. That doesn’t mean, we should ignore some other handy hacks when packing for a business trip.
“Always check the weather and pack accordingly,” says Smith. “And don’t forget: less is more. Don’t pack a bag full of items you will never use. If you need something you have forgotten you have an excuse to indulge in some retail therapy.”
- Dress to impress
Did you know that the 80/20 rule applies to our wardrobe as well and that most of us only wear 20% of what is hanging in our closets?
Travel with an ensemble that is stylish, easy to accessorise, as well as comfortable and neutral, advises Garett. She says: “When you travel for business, you tend to follow a tight schedule that could require you to go straight from the airport into the boardroom. By adding a few accessories – or making some small changes – you can easily transform your outfit from relaxed to corporate.”
Smith agrees and cites as an example: “We always need heels for business travel. However, keep a pair of pumps in your bag for that dreaded airport walking.”
- Embrace tech
With the exception of your COVID travel permits, paper documents are a thing of the past, according to Smit. Instead of carrying around paperwork, a better idea is to charge your phone and make sure you have downloaded some key apps, like FMC’s travel chatbot Sam.
This Smart Assistant for Mobile, or Sam for short, can handle everything, from booking your flights, hotels or ground transport to updating you on the weather at your destination. Sam also advises you on your exact departure gate, flight time changes, where to collect your bags – even suggests restaurants to visit, alerts you about traffic delays and connects you to a live text or phone chat with a consultant if you need or want it.
- Pack snacks
Although food can once again be served on airplanes and most restaurants have reopened, it remains a good idea to pack a few snacks. Energy bars, dried fruit and nuts are a healthy option to pack, but a little chocolate never hurts either.
- Adjust your expectations
During these difficult times, we are all secretly hoping that the middle seat on the plane remains open. The reality can be quite different though.
Even though Mafojane had booked seats for the team leaving the middle seat open, the flight was full to capacity. Unless the flight is less than 67% full, the middle seat won’t remain free automatically unfortunately.
- Get crafty with cosmetics
“Mask are now a must, so forget the lipstick. Instead pack a clear practical gloss, or nourishing lip balm,” advises Smith.
Another tip is to invest in a good BB cream that contains moisturiser, SPF and foundation. If your skin tends to get very dry, consider a leave-on mask to moisturise it during your flight.
- Don’t spare the self-care
Women notoriously put their own self-care and health at the bottom of their priority list. Business trips exacerbate this bad habit.
However, Garett explains that the healthier and more well-rested you are, the more effective you will be in your work. She says: “So, start concentrating on your own health while on the road. A good start is to wear your Fitbit or smartwatch and keep an eye on your number of steps.”
- Chat to your travel manager
In an age where gender diversity is a red-hot topic, are travel programmes treating male and female travellers any differently and, if not, are travel managers missing a trick?
One key travel hack is to use a reputable travel management company (TMC) for your travel needs. Ultimately all travellers – male and female – want to be productive and get the job done. A reputable TMC will give you the advice and support you need to make your business trip a success.