Steven Fox is the President of Fastport Passport, which provides services to American travelers around the country. Find out more about Fastport Passport here.
In a vastly changing and growing economy, business travelers are not just the suits armed with briefcases. Bloggers, conferences, networking events and good old-fashioned face-to-face business meetings are now driving the world of business travel. Business travelers of 2016 will set the pace for growing economies in the New Year. As more companies conduct business face-to-face and more Millennials enter the workforce, business travel is expected to increase yet again this year.
Recent polls have shown that Millennials are twice as likely to seek business trips than the Baby Boomer generation. The travel industry is also growing to account for the increased demand for business travel needs. New apps hit the market every day that cater to the unique needs of business travelers, and travel programs are now offered to help expedite the boarding and security process, as well as assist travelers in avoiding flight delays. As travel requirements change and new legislation is implemented, business travelers will also need up with these emerging trends.
Here are a few tips for business travel in 2016.
Travel programs are a great way for the frequent traveler to skip the lines or enjoy benefits like priority boarding. Business travelers will enjoy these benefits, too.
- Apply for expedited traveler status. You can do so through programs like TSA Pre✓ for U.S. travel or Nexus, Sentri or Global Entry for international travel. These trusted traveler programs are vital for business travelers.
- Focus on one or two airlines for frequent flier miles and reward programs. The more you fly with one company, the faster you will receive bigger rewards.
- Focus on one or two hotel chains as well. Make sure you have a frequent guest account number. Business travelers are a major source of revenue for hotels, so pick one that caters to your needs. Many provide discounts on meeting rooms, shuttle services and room rates.
- Pay attention to the U.S. Department of State travel warnings. Anytime there is a security concern within the international community, a travel alert is issued.
Packing and Airplane Tips
- Use your flight time to relax. Don't trick yourself into working at 35,000 feet. But if you think you'll need Wi-Fi, check this list here.
- Carry a spare change of clothes in your carry-on luggage. If you end up without your luggage, at least you'll have a backup plan. Keep it light, smart and simple.
- Be kind to everyone who is on the clock. Airline and hotel employees can often carry a lot of privileges that can trickle down to the customers. Being aggressive and rude with them will quickly put you down the list for upgrades.
- Try to avoid airplane pillows and blankets. If they don't come in a plastic bag, they probably haven't been washed in a while. Pack your own silk sheet and comfy pillow.
Staying healthy on the road should be one of your top priorities. Your body will thank you if you follow these tips.
- Wash your hands at every opportunity. This may seem like a no-brainer, but make an extra effort to keep your hands clean on the road. Keep in mind that many of the things you handle during transit may not be cleaned all that often (think: seat-back pocket, blankets, pillows).
- Bring supplies like Emergen-C, Airborne, aspirin, and Sudafed. And please don't touch your face, mouth, or nose with unwashed hands.
- Reduce your risk of a blood clot. Stand up and walk around every 90 minutes or so.
- Eat your fruits and veggies. If there was ever a time to stick to a diet, do it while on the road. Business travelers are more likely to get sick than the average person.
- Get exercise by walking or jogging in the places you are visiting. Force yourself to be a tourist every now and then. It will also keep you clued into the local atmosphere and keep your mind sharp.
- Always stay hydrated. Water keeps your skin looking fresh and your mind alert.
- Protect your stomach. Business trips are not the time to experiment with unusual cuisine. You don't want to miss an important meeting because you were stuck in the bathroom.
- Leave the booze and grab more water. Drinking on the plane will give you a hangover before you get to your hotel. When in doubt, drink some sparkling water.
As President of Fastport Passport, a passport and visa expediting company, I know that one of the most important changes for 2016 involves adding passport pages. Previously, the U.S. Department of State issued a standard passport with 28 pages (17 of which could be used for visas). As of January 1st, 2016, U.S. travelers who run out of visa pages will no longer have the option to add pages. Travelers must now apply for a passport renewal. The old passport will be returned and the new passport will be the 52-page passport book.
Passport Restrictions If You Owe the IRS
For U.S. citizens who owe more than $50,000 in unpaid taxes, the opportunity to hold a passport may be suspended, revoked or denied. This is similar to the current policy regarding child support payments. If you are in arrears on child support payments, your passport may not be issued until your child support payments are paid in full.
- Renew your passport early. The current surge in demand for passports is the highest since 2007. Routine processing takes four-to-six weeks or longer.
- When you renew your passport, keep your old passport if you still have valid visas. You can travel with both passports if you still have valid visas in your previously expired passport.
- Consider applying for a second duplicate passport. If you're a frequent traveler, this allows you to have two passports so you can submit one for a visa and travel on the other passport.
- Make sure your passport photos meet the requirements. Passport photos are the No. 1 reason passport applications are denied.
As we find ourselves well into 2016, every business traveler should stay abreast of these up and coming trends.