Nothing is more frustrating than planning a trip and then finding that your bags are overweight costing you extra fees; your hotel charges a fee for daily newspaper delivery, or that the exercise room will be closed during your stay. If you are on a tight budget, a news junkie or on a strict training regime, these seemingly minor inconveniences can become major frustrations. I once had a boss that refused to sit in the middle seat on an airplane. Easy enough to book, but he didn’t share that information with me until after I booked a trip. Since making reservations for his travel was my responsibility, knowing his preferences was, too (as he so strongly lectured me when he returned.)
I used to travel extensively as a contract trainer for a major international training and seminar company. We had a top-notch travel department that handled every detail and when something went wrong, they were only a phone call away. Since I haven’t traveled in at least a year, planning our current trip to the U.K. underscored the many changes that have come about in booking travel. If you are responsible for travel reservations for one person or the whole department, here are seven tips for making that next trip trouble-free:
1. Put together an extensive profile of every traveler. This includes preferences like seat selection on the airplane (window or aisle). What is their preference for hotel room type, floor level, foam or feather pillows and proximity to elevators, etc? Does the hotel have complimentary breakfast, and when is it available? What type of rental car do they prefer and do they want a GPS included?
2. Is there wireless Internet service available in the rooms, public areas? Is there a business center with printers, mailing services, FedEx or UPS pickup available? What are the fees for these services, if any?
3. Depending on the traveler, is there a fitness center, pool, dry cleaning or other services on-site or nearby? How far away, and are there any fees for usage?
4. If you make reservations online, be sure to call the hotel directly to see if there are any changes since the website was updated. Things like construction or renovations of the hotel or facilities are rarely listed on the website. If your traveler has to swim laps every morning, they will be very disappointed to find the pool drained for resurfacing. A quick call to the hotel and booking elsewhere with a working pool can save the trip and maybe your job.
5. Keep up with the changes in baggage fees or seating charges on the airlines. These can vary with the airlines and change often. Weight restrictions also vary. Airline travel clubs and certain credit cards, like American Express, have services for members such as baggage fee waivers or discounts. Memberships should be part of the traveler’s profile.
6. Keep up with international travel requirements for security screening. Recent changes to booking flights now require passenger information be exactly as stated on the passport. A copy of each person’s passport picture page in their travel file will eliminate glitches at check-in. Here’s where manic attention to detail is required.
7. Keep a copy of all reservations, emails from travel services and current contact information for each trip. Include a copy of the picture page of the traveler’s passport in their travel packet. This can help if they lose their passport while traveling and need a replacement.
Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a freelance writer, blogger, and consultant. Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in "Training" magazine, "Training & Development" magazine, "Supervision," "Pulse" and "The Savannah Morning News." You can read her blogs at www.skirt.com/savannahchick, www.workingsmartworks.blogspot.com/ and on the web at www.mjnhconsulting.com.