Beat Business Travel’s Beating

If you feel anxious about getting to the airport on time before that big business meeting or get uncharacteristically irritated at the person with a pocketful of change who holds up the security queue, you’re not alone.

In fact, the UK’s Stress Management Society says that on average 75% of travellers feel stressed when preparing for travel or flying to an important event, such as business meetings.

“It’s not just arriving at the airport on time, going through the security and boarding formalities and getting on the plane that causes travel stress. What happens before the flight and what travellers anticipate will happen after it also have a bearing on how much anxiety they feel and how they cope with it,” says Dawn Weir, Head of kulula work.

Weir suggests the following five tips to deal with and avoid some of the factors that can exacerbate business travel stress.

  1. Be well rested before your flight

Going to bed late, particularly if you have to get up early makes most people crotchety and irritable. Try to get an early night.

Also try and get some exercise in the late afternoon or evening before the flight. It’s a great stress reliever and will help you sleep better.

  1. Plan ahead

Leaving your packing until the last minute will add to your stress and increase the chances of you leaving something important behind. Do the bulk of your packing a day or two before. Leave some space in your hand luggage for last-minute items.

Allow yourself enough time to get to the airport. It’s much less stressful to get there with time to spare, than in a desperate rush.

Book your transport from the airport to your hotel or meeting before departure. It’s better than spending the whole flight worrying about what will happen when you arrive.

  1. Eat and drink sensibly

Guzzling litres of coffee to wake up after an early start will make you jittery and irritable, adding to your anxiety.

Too much alcohol the night before inhibits sleep and you won’t wake up feeling your best.

Comfort eating isn’t a great idea either. Like caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, chocolate contains stimulants that can increase anxiety. It’s the same reason it’s a good idea to avoid fizzy drinks. Instead stock up on healthy snacks like fresh or dried fruit and nuts and drink plenty of water.

  1. Use technology

Check-in online. It’ll save you time at the airport, enabling you to skip the check-in queues and head for the fast-bag drop. Saving the boarding pass to your phone also means one less piece of paper to keep safe, just make sure your phone is charged.

If you know your bags are going to be overweight you can save yourself time and money by paying for the excess luggage online before you arrive at the airport.

  1. Remain calm

Perhaps easier said than done, but when something unexpected happens it’s easy to react negatively by arguing endlessly or fuming silently. It’s much better to take a deep breath, stay calm and accept there are some things you just can’t change.

Weir adds that travel stress affects people in different ways. Some people cope better than others with late nights and early starts, but may get anxious about missing their flight while standing in a slow security queue.

“If you think about your stress triggers and ways to limit or avoid these you’ll feel more positive and empowered, probably enjoy the trip more and be happier when you arrive at your destination.”

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How to simplify business travel for your guests 

With the rise of conference-calls and video-conferencing systems like Skype and Google Hangouts, it may seem like the days of face-to-face meetings are numbered. But a lot of business leaders and industrial psychologists reckon that there’s no substitute for meeting someone in person, especially at critical junctures in a business relationship, like introducing yourself or closing a deal. So how can hotels make business travel less stressful and worth your while? Dawn Weir, head of kulula work, suggests the following:

Identify the business benefits for your guests:

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Weir says that business travel can be beneficial for the individual traveller and their business. British Airways On Business for example, enables your enterprise to earn points when you travel on BA, Iberia and American Airlines, and you’re entitled to members-only offers and discounts. BA Executive Club enables you to graduate to higher tiers where you can, for example, get cabin upgrades and access to business lounges and use the points to, say, take your family on holiday with you. Hotels can advertise these types of benefits to their business customers and even form an alliance with the airline to do advertising for them on their planes.

Assist them to be travel ready:

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In the current busy, always-connected corporate lifestyle, your guests can never be too prepared to travel at a moment’s notice. Weir admits to being a super organised individual and has a travel drawer with her travel necessities, ready to pack at a moment’s notice. This drawer includes luggage labels, extra ID and passport photos, toothbrush cover, toiletry bag with miniatures (shampoo, hand sanitizer and moisturiser), travel brush, neck cushion and eye masks. But not all your guests will be this organised. Offer a travel kit at an additional (not too expensive) cost. Things like ID copies and passport photos are not in your control, but you can add some toiletries and essentials to the kit.

Suggest apps to simplify their arrangements

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A few apps that you can advise your business travellers to use, include:

  • Scannable: This app enables the camera on your smartphone to record documents at a quality similar to those that have been scanned or photocopied. Take a picture of that all-important, game-changing, freshly-signed contract and the app straightens and neatens it up so you can email it. It’s quick and discreet and it’s also a way to keep track of your expenses. Take a shot of your receipts and mail them to your accounts department.
  • There’s no shortage of online project-management tools, but Trello has earned the loyalty of its 10m users through canny use of colour-codes, to-do lists and timelines.
  • AroundMe uses your mobile device’s GPS to find facilities like banks, ATMs, parking-garages, eateries and medical facilities, while Wi-fi Finder does the same, but for wi-fi hotspots.

Create a break room for your guests:

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Airport lounges provide a haven from the hubbub of departure-lounges, but not all are equal by any means. The best ones have space for some work, high speed wi-fi, a good selection of food, a decent wine-list, and facilities to shower and freshen up. The SLOW Lounges at a number of South African airports have these facilities, and there’s even one at the Radisson Blu Hotel opposite the Sandton Gautrain station (SLOW in the City), which provides boardrooms, lounges and the option to arrange for private areas to do business lunches and interviews, with the benefit of waiters on call for food and drink orders. A new lounge recently opened at Lanseria International Airport called SLOW XS and has, among its many attractions, wine-tastings offered by local drinks specialists, Winesense, and is exclusive to FNB/RMB cardholders and kulula passengers. When your hotel’s business rooms is booked, some of your guests might need a quick freshen up, and this is the perfect opportunity to incorporate the said “SLOW Lounges” at your hotel.

Lastly, remind your guests to hydrate and rest when flying:

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Weir says many business travellers tend to put in more working hours when away from the office and home and they might be so busy and tired that they forget to stay hydrated. A simple bottle of water can be given to your guests upon arrival and departure with a designed label to remind your guests to drink enough water and to get some rest during their travels. A nice personal touch can be to wish them safe travels on the label as well.

Edited by: Alicia Redelinghuys