What is a Business Trip (or Business Travel) Report?
Now that your business trip is complete, it is time to justify the expense of the travel to the organization. Typically, this can be accomplished by preparing and submitting what is often called a “Business Trip Report”. So, what is a business trip report? Essentially the business trip report will summarize and in some cases review in great detail the events and key leanings from the trip. The purpose (perhaps unwritten purpose) of the business trip report will almost always be to justify the travel expenses with a returned value of some sort.
In this article we will discuss which details a business trip report should include. We will discuss the formats a business report might use and we will offer suggestions regarding whether a report can be a summary or should be a very detailed account of your activities.
Most importantly though, we will give you all the tools necessary to create a business trip report that will “blow the bosses socks off” and have you travelling around the globe. Actually we may have over stated a bit there, but you will wrote a great business trip report with the following tips and suggestions.
Preparing to Create a Business Trip Report
Remember the art of business travel is in the preparation and this also holds true when discussing a business trip report. A savvy business person will take the time to develop a description of what the successful business trip would look like. The plan should include any key leanings or key accomplishments which are expected as a result of the travel. Focus the bulk of your travel itinerary on providing return value to the organization.
Honestly, you should have the foundation of your “post-business trip” report written before you even leave for your destination. Furthermore a dynamic individual may even review the trips expectations with the boss to gain some “buy-in” on the agenda.
Here a few key leanings or key accomplishments that a business trip might yield:
- Improved relationship with existing customer
- Attracting new customers (e.g. customer visit or trade show)
- Certification training
- Evaluating, attending a meeting or providing leadership to another company site
- Identifying or learning about new market opportunities/trends
- Evaluating the competition
As you can see, understanding the initial purpose of the trip is the first step in determining if the trek was ultimately successful. But also keep in mind that business trips will also yield unexpected benefits, so be prepared to add those as well.
Collecting information and documents are going to be regular tasks during a business trip, so always be prepared with a planner and keep it with you at all times during the trip. A good planner like the NovaThink Professional Planner (pictured above), is the perfect tool for keeping your phone, business cards, business travel receipts and much, much more. Always remember, we are a Business Travel Gadgets website.
Business Trip Report Formats
Most often a business trip report does not need to meet any established format, however the reports generated within in an organization should be similar. Using a standard format within any given company will make the task of reviewing the report or comparing multiple reports much easier.
Business Travel Gadgets offers several business trip report templates that you are free to use. You may use our Business Trip Report templates as is or you may use them to create your own templates. If you would like to have a copy of our templates with your company name or in Power Point format, please drop us an email at email@example.com.
Click link to view and download our basic template:
Let’s use our Basic Business Trip Report to review some of the more common items included within business trip reports. As you can see on our template the reports will start with the standard trip information such as: travel dates, traveler’s name and travel destination.
The basic information on a trip report might also include a “trip purpose description” which is intended to be general in nature, for example:
- “Visiting the Charleston Plant to receive On-site Hazardous Materials Training”
- “Traveling to Orlando Florida to attend the Annual Industrial Hygiene and Safety Convention”
Beyond the basic information, a basic report will typically include Key Learnings and Business Contact Information for contacts made during the trip. The basic report may also allow for attachments to the report, if the space allotted in the report is not sufficient. Items such as Expense reports and literature may also accompany the report. These additional items should be noted on the report, so that the review will know to look for them if they are separated from the report.
Lastly a basic report may include a section for follow items, it is common for a trip to generate action plans for implementing improvements to the organization that were discovered during the business trip. You may also want to follow up by thanking associates for the accommodations made during your visit.
Purpose, Benefits or Overview
The level of detail your business travel report includes may depend greatly on the expectaions of your organization. It is safe to assume that the organization is spending a decent amount of money to send you away and will rightly expect that the return on there invenstment is well documented. Business Travel Gadgets provides three levels of business trip report, the basic version shown above and the detailed version linked here:
As mentioned above, it may be valuable to pre-determine the intended value of a trip prior to leaving. This exercise will help to justify the expense of the trip and will give the traveler a clear and agreed upon agenda to use during the trip. Here are some examples of increasingly detailed objectives for a business trip.
Trip Purpose: Traveling to the Utah location to receive 49CFR Hazardous Materials Certification Training.
Overview: Traveling to the Utah location to receive 49CFR Hazardous Materials Certification Training. The Department of Transportation requires that any company offering hazardous materials for transport have a 49CFR certified individual on staff.
Benefits: ABC Company will send 12 employees to the Utah Plant to receive 49CFR Certification Training. Sending employees to Utah for the training will enable the organization to receive a group rate of $650 per employee and save on accommodations. The standard rate for a single individual receiving the training is $1,200.
Overview: 49CFR Hazardous Materials Certification Training is required annual training. I will be traveling to the Utah Plant to receive the training and upon my return I will be certified to provide Material Mover Level Training to the Warehouse staff.
The detailed version of our Business Travel Gadgets trip report also includes a “Pre-Trip” expected learnings section which can be used further detail the “value-added” expectations for the travel.
Cover pages, additional content pages as well as executive summary pages are included in our Executive Business Trip Report template.
What details should be included on a Business Trip Report
Details, details, details… the details can make the difference when submitting a business trip report. And preparation can be a huge factor in how many details your report will include. At BTG we like to refer to trip details as “Key Learnings” and unless you are required to record every waking moment of a business trip, the details will be the value added items that the trip produced.
Let’s take a look at how we can become a better note taker which, in the end, will produce a better report:
Bring the proper tools: It just makes sense to ensure that you have the proper note taking tools. Don’t assume that notepads or writing utensils will be provided and if you prefer a laptop or tablet, make sure that you have power and internet connection capability.
Do some research upfront: Preview the trip itinerary and meeting agenda, get a sense of the direction a lecture or meeting conversation might take and determine what information will be of value in the given environment. Focus on the moments that include your areas of interest and make note of topics that were unexpected, but valuable. Preparation allows you to be strategically focused. If possible, review prior trip reports and determine if information needs to be updated or refreshed, in any way.
Stay organized: Being organized is just a travel necessity and assembling information for a report is no exception. Make sure that you are referencing your source and keeping track of the time and date that information was discussed. Be sure to get the contact information from anyone who provides you with valuable information so that you can contact them with any follow up questions. Be sure to jot down keywords, phrases, dates, names, and so on, this information will be invaluable later.
Be selective: Taking down every word during a meeting is not an effective method of preparing for a business trip report. Excessive note taking will lead to an unorganized mess and will likely result in missing the more important items. This is why the early review of the more critical items is helpful. If you keep your note-taking more focused, you can record greater detail regarding the items that are bringing value (there is that word again).
Some items are just not worth writing down, of course, I understand that it may not immediately known if an item is important, but if you find that an item you missed is critical, ask the presenter to repeat the information.
Make sense: Do not take notes in bullet point format, unless the notes are intended to be a list of items. BTG writers feel that taking notes in bullet form will lead to confusion later. It is best to take notes in a sentence format that spells out exactly why you felt the information was important. Now with that said, we do not strictly forbid the use of bullet notes, they can be helpful in heavy note-taking periods.
Be consistent: Try to keep your note-taking structure consistent. Pick a format that works for you and stick with it so that your notes are structured the same way each day and on each trip. In keeping with the organization step, consistency will help save time during the report writing phase.
Listen for signal: Critical information can often be identified by listening for signal words or phrases like, “There are four main points…” or “To summarize…” or “We are highly interested in…”. These should be triggers to get your pen and paper ready. If you with a client, make sure to note children’s name, favorite foods or hobbies any information that can be used later as conversation items or gift giving ideas.
Generate a list of questions: It is not uncommon for a meeting or lecture to generate more questions. Of course you have taken our advice and produced a list of questions that the trip will hopefully provide answers too, but that is not to say that other questions will not be generated during the trip, so jot them down.
Review your notes: Occasionally review your notes to ensure that they make sense and that they are thorough.
Get Digital: Remember this is the 21st century so get digital when you can. But always ask for permission prior to recording audio or taking any photographs. Many organizations have strict rules against taking pictures and I have been part of lectures were the speaker has asked those who are recording to leave the room. It may be a good idea to ask these questions upfront to avoid an embarrassing situation.
Summarize your Key Leanings
This is the perfect opportunity for you to state exactly why the business trip was worth the money. While it is true that you just spent the last hour creating awesome value with your key learnings, the summary is a place where you can write “the trip will increase our widget production by 10%” or “labor costs will decrease when the new overtime policy is implemented”.
Be sure not to rewrite the key learnings during your summary, simply putinto words how the imormation you gathered during the trip will create instant and long lasting value for the organization, this is what the business trip and the business trip report are all about.
Explanation of Business Trip Expenses
Many travlers will include their expsense report with the business trip report, if this is the case for you, then feel free to explain any atypical expenses on your report.
You are Creating a Blueprint for Follow Up Actions
Lastly, list any follow up items that the trip requires.