Planning your first business trip

Planning your first business trip

17 April 2021

Businessman using phone at train station
Travel more conveniently by storing your tickets on your phone

Your first business trip should be an exciting occasion, but it can also leave you feeling filled with nerves and anticipation. Travelling by train is one of the best ways to maximise your preparation time ahead of the meeting or conference you’re attending, while also ensuring that all the hassles that come with driving, such as stopping for petrol, navigating your journey, and stopping for toilet breaks, are avoided. And with our comfortable seating, onboard toilets and free Wi-Fi to allow you to stay connected, what better way to enjoy business travel than with South Western Railway. We’ve got a selection of tips for business trips that’ll help you to get organised and ensure your journey is as smooth as possible.

Create an agenda

Whether the purpose of your business trip is to pitch a new client or to have a quarterly catch-up with an existing one, having an agenda can help to save time and make your trip as beneficial as possible. Try to create an agenda for the entire trip and remember that efficiency is key, so try to arrange several useful meetings as you’re going all the way to your client’s headquarters. To make those meetings as worthwhile as possible, prepare and send over a meeting agenda a few weeks or even a month prior, as it allows time for back and forth to ensure both sides are happy with what is going to be discussed.

If you’re travelling with colleagues, spread out the load and share tasks like booking train tickets, restaurant research for client entertainment and hotel booking (we’ve got more tips on this below) to save you time as you prepare from your trip.

Make a packing checklist

While you may have remembered to pack suits or dresses for the meeting itself, don’t forget you could end up going for spontaneous meals and to bars with colleagues and clients, so pack a few spare suitable items to ensure you’re prepared for every occasion. Don’t forget to pack comfortable footwear, as while you might be spending a lot of time sitting down in meetings, you’re still likely to spend a lot of time on your feet, either standing or walking between locations. Create a checklist to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything important such as toiletries, your toothbrush and spare pairs of underwear and socks, and be sure to factor in all the meetings and events you’ll be attending when planning your outfits.

Get your gadgets in order

Ensure you’ve packed your laptop and phone chargers, a notepad, any important documents (neatly organised), adaptors or cables you may need to connect your laptop to their screens, tablets, and plenty of pens. There’s little more frustrating than technical difficulties during important meetings, so get your presentation off to the best start by setting up in advance. This could either be by asking the client for any login details and requirements beforehand or arriving a little earlier to prepare. It’s better to be cautious and make a good impression than to be fumbling with your tech during precious minutes of the meeting.

Read up on your company’s travel policy

Doing research on your company’s travel policies ahead of your business travel can certainly pay off. The key areas to look out for are what can and cannot be expensed (keep hold of receipts), whether your meals are covered, if your healthcare insurance covers you when travelling around the UK (or abroad), whether your work laptop and other tech gear is insured and what to do in case of emergencies. Not only will you have peace of mind, but it’ll also reflect your responsibility to your employer.

Book convenient accommodation

Strike the perfect balance between comfort and convenience by booking your business trip accommodation in a spot that’ll work for all aspects of your stay. To avoid having to spend prolonged amounts of time commuting from one place to the next, try to stay in a central location that’s close to the station and to the whereabouts of your meetings, meals, and events. While it can be tempting to save money by booking something less expensive on the outskirts, you could end up wasting far more time on these journeys, and as they say, time is money, so think about the bigger picture.

Keep your tickets on your phone

Avoid the hassle of collecting tickets – and the panic of losing them when you’re rushing around – by going paperless. South Western Railway’s eTickets give you the option of keeping all your business travel tickets on your phone rather than bulking out your pockets, purse or wallet with physical tickets. Simply download the SWR app from the App Store or Google Play store, then browse the ticketing options and book. This allows you to skip the inconvenience of queuing for the ticket office or collection machines at the station, and instead you’ll be able to glide through the gates by getting your ticket up on your phone and scanning the barcode.

Keep your conversation professional

Last but by no means least is ensuring that conversations and behaviour remain professional during your first business trip. While you may be out of the office, you are still with colleagues, clients or both, so don’t say or do anything that may tarnish your company’s reputation, or your own, on your trip. Nurture relationships with your clients, particularly if this is your first time meeting them or you rarely see them, by showing interest in them and engaging in conversation. Though not all conversation needs to be centred around work, maintain boundaries when it comes to casual or personal conversations and prepare some easy conversational topics to avoid awkward silences. Most importantly, keep alcohol consumption at a sensible level even if the drinks are flowing. You’ll be grateful you did when your alarm goes off early the next morning.

Keep these tips in mind for your first business trip, and you’re likely to get off to a great start. To ensure your journey from A to B is just as seamless, travel with South Western Railway and save money. Explore our ticket types and business travel to find the best ticketing option for you, and head over to our blog hub for more information and tips.