So you’ve reached the end of your business trip and your thoughts are leaning toward getting back home. But hold on, your work isn’t quite done yet. There may be some expectations of you when you return to the office and need to show value for your recent travel. Follow up is one of the more important aspects of any business trip or business meeting for that matter. And, at BTG we certainly understand the importance of good follow up. Fortunately we can provide you with some tools that will make your wrap up a breeze.
Here are a few of the things you should consider when your trip is winding down
Don’t Forget Anything
If you are a regular follower of Business Travel Gadgets, this will not be an issue. But, some of us are still learning, so double check that you have critical items packed for your return. I don’t need to remind you that I speak from experience and I’ve left many items behind. Nothing puts a bad spin on a good trip like leaving something behind.
Represent your Company Well
If you are going to leave a lasting impression, make it a good one. Never forget to thank your host for their hospitality and make every effort to say goodbye to everyone you met during your trip. Be sure to review any action items that resulted from your meetings and agree upon a completion date. Thorough follow up is the best way to leave a good impression.
Always remember that you are a representative, either for a corporation or your own company. So, leave your hotel room in a respectable condition and be sure to cover all appropriate charges. Housekeeping is tasked with cleaning up after you have checked out, but you should still treat a hotel room like it was someone else’s home.
Allow yourself Time to Reflect
Business does not have to be all about stress. If you learn anything here with us, I hope that you learn that proper planning and preparation will give you time to reflect on your business accomplishments. Be proud of yourself for a successful trip. And make a mental note of things you can improve upon on your next business journey.
Document your expenses
Submitting an expense report will be an important step upon your return. Errors, omissions or non-reimbursed expenses may cost you money in the end, so take your time a thoroughly review your report prior to submitting.
If you’ve religiously kept your receipts, took pictures, and kept track of your expenses—either by recording them in a dedicated file or through an app while on the trip—you should be fine. Just whip out your expense folder, review, create a backup, and submit to accounting.
Do a postmortem
Take some time to reflect before and during the trip. That will give you insights into the trip’s wins and areas for improvement. What could you have done differently? Was the trip even necessary? Knowing these answers will be useful the next time you plan for a business trip.
Likewise, review your company’s travel and per diem policies. You want to make sure you’ve been cost efficient without, depriving yourself of necessities.
Review any new things you may have learned. Look back on any new lessons or insights the trip may have given you. Is there a new trend or tool you should be aware of? Are certain practices that used to be standard in your line of work now considered obsolete? Who are the latest influencers in your sector and what are their ideas? Are there new regulations affecting your business?
Gather these in a coherent, presentation-ready format for when you report on your trip.
Follow up with new contacts and potential leads
Collate all the usable information you have gathered from your networking efforts. Organize all business cards, phone numbers, and email addresses into a single document. Check leads you may have met during your trip on LinkedIn. Send them a follow-up message that reminds them about the event where you met. Bring up notes about your encounter, and request to add them to your LinkedIn network.
If you can’t find your new contact on LinkedIn, send an email with a quick introduction. Reference your encounter and request a follow-up on where your previous conversation left off.
Post an assessment of key takeaways
If the purpose of the trip isn’t confidential, consider writing a recap on your company’s blog or intranet. Include key takeaways and high-res pictures.
Writing refreshes your memory about the things you learned from the event. And it also keeps the rest of your company’s employees on the same page.
Posting about these activities also develops your company’s reputation as a thought leader. It’s always good PR to show that your company is involved in industry events.
Tackle all those emails
One day, one week, or one month—it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away. An overflowing inbox stresses the heck out of most people. So the process doesn’t become time-consuming and energy-sapping, develop a “zoning” system. Separate emails into folders. Separate emails that need an urgent reply from those that involve a task. Identify emails that relate to trips or meetings, emails that should be delegated, and so on. Not all emails are created equal, after all.
Delete stale mail and reply to all the important ones, no matter how brief the response.
For business trips to be successful and hassle-free, planning and research are key. A post-trip analysis allows you the opportunity to slice and dice your business travels. You’ll learn to squeeze the most value out of every trip. And you’ll emerge a better and more efficient business traveler.