The list of possible on-the-road inconveniences in unfamiliar conference locations is long, but our executive’s guide to travelling smart will ensure your meeting gets off to the best possible start.
1. Be invisible online
It’s not a myth – clearing your computer’s cookies can help secure cheaper flights. How? Airline sites keep track of your cookies, increasing the price of tickets to prompt you to buy if they detect you looking at the same page repeatedly. Failing that, cost-saving hacks include searching for red-eye flights and changing your search settings to another country – for example, if you are flying Beijing to Bangkok but live somewhere entirely different, search the site specific to either China or Thailand as ‘regional pricing’ means fare prices will be set for that market.
2. Order like a pro
Opting for the vegetarian option when booking your flight is often a sure-fire way to ensure you eat before everyone else. In fact, any meal that is not the standard choice tends to come off the trolley first. That way you can feast on a piping-hot lunch or dinner and then settle down in front of the in-flight entertainment (or your laptop) with no further interruptions.
3. There’s an app for that
With just a few swipes of your smartphone, technology can make travel effortlessly simple. Download the app of the airline you are flying with to get real-time updates on gate changes and delays, as well as enjoy paperless boarding. In addition, keep all your transfer details, hotel bookings and car hire info in one place with TripIt and check seating plans using SeatGuru, which allows you to pre-book seats based on other travellers’ recommendations. Once at your destination, navigate like a local with a range of useful apps, such as Citymapper, that will tell you how to get from A to B via taxi, public transport or on foot, as well as how long it will take so you’ll never run late.
4. Become a lounge lover
Even if you’re not travelling business or first class, there are several ways to enjoy the peaceful luxury of airport lounges. Signing up to a frequent-flyer scheme is the obvious way, but it’s also worth checking with your credit card company as they might have a partnership with an airline that grants you access. You can also pick up day passes to lounges around the world when checking in.
5. From flight to formal
Wear something comfy on the plane and change into your crease-free suit on arrival, swap flats for heels in the taxi and take an extra shirt so that accidental coffee spill doesn’t turn into a catastrophe. Remember, roll-along hand luggage saves sore backs and can also double as a durable laptop case. Also don’t forget to throw in an emergency pack with a couple of plasters, a mini sewing kit and painkillers, which will come in handy.
6. Keep powered up
In today’s hyperconnected world, you need to be contactable at all times. While it’s the norm for conference centres and meeting rooms to come equipped with Wi-Fi, you can cope with those in-between times by checking that your smartphone can double up as portable hotspot and ensuring the SIM card will work when you reach your destination.
Also, there’s nothing worse than pressing play on that important PowerPoint presentation only for your laptop to power down. Think one step ahead by checking which adaptor plugs you might need at your destination or investing in spare batteries or solar-powered chargers.
7. Schedule smart
Give your work-life balance a boost and arrange appointments in blocks or at the same location – that way you spend less time running around and free yourself up for a spot of post-meeting sightseeing. Base yourself in the city centre for easy explorations – for example, the Grand Millennium Shanghai HongQiao is just a short journey from the historic Jade Buddha Temple.
Grand Millennium Shanghai HongQiao
8. Get expert help
Leaving your office behind doesn’t mean you can’t entertain clients somewhere slick – many business hotels with conference facilities cater for every occasion, like the Millennium Hotel London Mayfair where staff can organise anything from a cocktail reception to a large-scale conference in spaces such as the English country-style Grand Ballroom or the oak-panelled Grosvenor Suite.