Business travel is a big part of life for Scott Keyes, who is founder and CEO of Scott's Cheap Flights, a travel-deal site with 1.6 million subscribers. As someone who generally travels at least once a month, Keyes strives to make the on-the-go experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible. Airport lounges, which he accesses through his credit card, have been something of an oasis, lately.
“I used to dread spending time in the airport. Now I kind of look forward to it," says Keyes, whose business employs 39 people remotely and is registered in Boulder, Colorado. “I enjoy having a chill, relaxed space to hang out, have a beer, watch some planes and do a little work."
Today, as technology allows people to work anywhere and jobs are becoming increasingly global, business travel is often a fact of life. In 2018, workers in the United States booked 463.6 million trips for business, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Keyes and other frequent fliers shared their advice on credit card perks, collaboration tools, connectivity, security and more, to help make those trips feel less a little laborious for business leaders.
1. Take advantage of credit card perks.
In addition to lounge access, Keyes uses a number of credit card benefits when traveling, which have saved him countless hours of time waiting in line in security and at customs and immigration points. But beyond the time saved, he says those perks also makes travel less stressful. “You don't have to jump through all the various hoops, and it just ends up being a more pleasant experience," he says. In addition, Keyes says he uses his credit card rewards to cover some travel expenses for his business. His entire team is remote and located as far away as Australia and Kenya, and he saves money by purchasing airfare for meetings or corporate retreats using points rather than cash.
After two or three days you feel a little sad, you feel a little lonely. [...] But then you look forward to that last day, and it's all worth it.
—Steve Wiideman, CEO, Wiideman Consulting Group
2. Find a phone plan that lets you work anywhere, anytime.
Keyes remembers being on the beach in Barcelona drinking Cava when he got an alert about airfare deals he wanted to publish. He was able to send out a message to his subscribers, thanks to his phone plan, which allows him to use the device as a hotspot. “I can be connected anywhere I am—at the office, in a coffee shop, at a museum, in the jungle, on the jet bridge to a plane," he says. Plus, with global service—and no additional roaming charges—he can count on his phone to work from the moment the plane touches down. “I find it to be super convenient to be able to land and not have to go and find a SIM card," he says.
3. Be deliberate about your alerts.
If you're not going to have access to your computer throughout the day, it's especially important to set the right alerts on your phone, says Keyes. His team, for example, relies on a group instant messaging service, so he's sure to enable those alerts so he doesn't miss an important conversation. “Putting in a little legwork beforehand and making sure that those alerts are properly calibrated has been really helpful for me when I'm on the road," he says.
4. Consider which devices you bring along.
As CEO of the Arlington, Virginia-based cybersecurity company GroupSense, Kurtis Minder is always extremely cautious when he travels. When he visits particular countries, he takes extra steps. “If you're going to Russia or China, just assume that they're going to look in your machine," he says. Knowing that, he brings along a different laptop than his usual, and makes sure that it's cleared of any corporate data. He keeps the computer with him the entire time. When he gets home, he avoids connecting the machine to the corporate network until it's been wiped clean, just in case something malicious was installed, and he asks the company's employees to do the same if they travel. In addition, Minder says he always takes a backup phone with him, wherever he travels. That way, if he loses his phone or it stops working, he's covered. “Your phone is your universe," he says. Like with the laptop, if he's visiting a country where the cybersecurity risk might be high (you can learn about that risk on travel.state.gov), he wipes both phones clean when he gets home, restoring them to their factory settings, to be safe.
5. Connect wisely.
“Public Wi-Fi is not safe," says Minder. “People should know this." He suggests using a virtual private network (VPN), which, thanks to encryption, makes it more challenging for hackers to access your information. In addition, he recommends that people clear out all of the saved Wi-Fi networks on their computer and phone. That's because the default setting on devices is to automatically join saved networks. Hackers know that and will name a Wi-Fi hotspot accordingly in hopes that you'll join and they can then access your data.
6. Digitally delegate.
When he's traveling to a conference, meeting or speaking event, Steve Wiideman, who is CEO of Wiideman Consulting Group, an SEO consulting firm based in La Miranda, California, will set an automatic email response to let people know that he's working virtually and responses may be delayed. When he's able to reply to those emails, Wiideman, whose business has five employees and two contractors, delegates by adding someone on his team in the response and engaging their help. “I'll copy a team member and say, 'Because I'm out today, I'm going to tap Leo because he's good at that,'" he says. Since he's starting collaborating that way, he says he's able to get more accomplished in less time. “It takes the team member about three to four minutes and it shaves off what could have been an hour of work time for me down to 15 minutes," says Wiideman. “In terms of communication efficiency, that's been helpful."
7. Reward yourself the last day.
It's tempting on a business trip to get out and see the city right away, or put in a few hours networking at the hotel bar the first night. Wiideman says he makes a point of saving the “fun" stuff for the end of the trip and puts his nose to the grindstone early on, working for a few hours in his hotel room after he attends meetings or events. He often books a late flight home the last day so he can play tourist for a few hours. “After two or three days you feel a little sad, you feel a little lonely, I'm in this cave, all I do is work, work, work. But then you look forward to that last day, and it's all worth it," he says.
Business travel doesn't always have to feel like additional work. With careful planning, the proper tech tools and the right credit card, you can collaborate from afar and make the most of your on-the-job adventure.
Photo: Getty Images