Light switches in the wrong place? Hotels miles away from meetings? Flights at unsociable hours? When you’re on the road, negotiating a packed schedule of meetings, these are the sort of bugbears that can make life unnecessarily difficult for employees. So how do you make sure your staff have the best experience when they travel for work?
To help, we spoke to a range of business travellers to uncover the biggest gripes, so you can take some of the hassle out of your staff’s travel.
A lack of space
Who wouldn’t love a little more legroom on flights? A cramped flight can leave travellers exhausted ahead of important meetings and prevent them getting any work done on the flight.
This is especially the case if you have long legs. “At 6 foot 5, I struggle with legroom on flights”, says Gareth Lewis, co-founder and chief executive of wealthtech business Delio, based in Cardiff but with offices overseas including Dubai. Gareth has a solution: “I always try and fly Emirates. I smile nicely at the desk and ask for a seat with extra legroom – I’ve got a 95% success rate!”
Long connections and shuttle buses
Brian Norton, co-founder of Future Finance and Supply Finance, is happy to fly frequently for work, but says the worst thing about travelling for business are the transfers between connecting flights at airports. “It’s a massive pain having to connect at airports like Frankfurt or Amsterdam, as they are impossibly large.”
Then there are the airport shuttle buses that collect passengers from planes to ferry them to the terminal. The American entrepreneur, who is based in Dublin, says: “I hate it when you land and then have to get on an airport bus. You wait for the bus, wait for the last guy off the plane and drive around for a while until they deposit you somewhere. In America, they don’t normally do that, you head straight into the terminal and you’re on your way.”
Stranded on the tarmac
Waiting unnecessarily in a plane after a flight that landed early or on time – while the airport allocates a gate – is among the biggest gripes for James Gatoff, Global Marketing and Communications Director at Lombard International Assurance. And he should know, having taken more than 80 flights for business so far this year.
“Airports know when every plane is arriving as local air traffic control have to authorise each one to land!” he says.
Overloaded with receipts
It can be a pain keeping track of expenses, especially if you have to exchange cash and then studiously collect all receipts.
Tom Bourlet, who runs travel blog www.spaghettitraveller.com, says: “I am useless at saving receipts. What you don’t save comes out of your pocket, so you are always eager to save them all, but your wallet ends up bulging with receipts which you can’t quite place when it comes down to writing them up.”
He adds: “If I have an unexpected meeting with a client, the go-to might be a meal somewhere, however if I don’t have enough of the local currency or my card isn’t working (which happens surprisingly often abroad) then I can look a slight cheapskate.”
Remote controls glued to the bedside table
It’s often the little things that really gall tired travellers.
For blogger Tom that includes TV remotes glued to bedside tables in hotel rooms: “I’m not going to steal it, the room I’m booking is quite expensive so I’m not likely to be someone who would steal a remote control. It just makes it more difficult when you can’t relax on the bed and flick through the channels and it’s also quite insulting.”
Flight delays can be infuriating for business travellers who may have timed their schedule very carefully to maximise their time on the ground in a country.
Ryanair in particular winds up Dominic Baliszewski, a frequent business traveller and blogger. He says: “I wish someone would tell them that ‘this flight is late due to its late arrival before take-off’ is not an excuse. The real reason is because the schedule is over-packed and there isn’t enough time for turnaround.”
How to help
Some of the most common travel bugbears, like flight delays, are out of travellers’ control. But employers can do their best to put measures in place and follow best practice to help make life easier.
Considering a more relaxed expenses approach when your staff must travel could be a worthwhile strategy that ultimately leads to a happier and more productive workforce.
Clare Lassiter, senior HR consultant at Pure Human Resources, says: “Whether a hotel or a particular airline is up to scratch or not is often quite subjective and personal; and flight delays can’t usually be foreseen. But having measures in place to ease the stress when something does go awry will make employees feel like their welfare is being considered when they are away from home”.
She adds: “A caring employer will ensure that there is someone to call when their flight is cancelled at the last minute, and provide the means for the person to make emergency payments if necessary.”
And don’t forget that you can take the hassle out of expense management for you and your staff with the FairFX Expense Platform and Cards – an easy way to take control of expenses and take one more thing off of your employees’ minds when they travel.