Booking travel as a Virtual Assistant is not as easy as it sounds. It is vital that you focus on the timing and the needs of all parties involved. Follow these 11 tips to help you successfully get people where they need to be, on time, and safely.
The stress of business travel can be significant, and anticipating these moments as a Virtual Assistant along with finding ways to alleviate them, can win you serious recognition. The problem is that they’re not the only ones juggling multiple responsibilities. Your day is already full, so here are some low-effort, high-impact things you can do to help your client have a successful trip.
Travel apps can make their trip more manageable. They can help you find live gate and departure info for flights, and many hotel apps allow for mobile check-in. Consider which apps they will use and download them. For international travel, find apps for currency conversion and translation. Download the appropriate languages and currencies for offline use. Clients will experience some patchy service or potentially long breaks in Wi-Fi access, so whenever possible, download offline features.
Are they stuck in a train strike and delayed a day due to fog? Do they need to stay for an additional night? Whatever they come up against, you need to know who will handle it. Last-minute changes are always a significant pain. If it is a new working relationship as a Virtual Assistant, make it clear ahead of time. If you have been working with this person for any length of time, you likely know who will handle any last-minute itinerary changes. Whatever service you use to book their travel, make sure it includes 24/7 support for any unforeseen needs.
Preferences change with time and circumstance. Keep a running list on an easy-to-edit file to safeguard this info for every user. Here are some important categories:
Some preferences might hold for every trip; others might be more specific. Maintaining this list will eliminate repetitive conversations and save everyone time in the long run. Never assume you’ll remember.
Don’t be partly responsible for a terrible WiFi experience, and do a quick search on TripAdvisor to read honest reviews before committing to a hotel. To get helpful information, review the most recent reviews.
Brainstorm the little things that will make a big difference, and keep a running list. Booking travel as a Virtual Assistant involves thinking for the travelers. If they have free time, what can they do? Build a list of popular landmarks in the city along with a list of things to do. Whether the company is willing to pay for these things or the traveler will need to pay for them themselves, it is always great to provide this information. You can also build a list of restaurants, pubs, and bars.
It’s essential to have the travel itinerary, hotel and rental car details, loyalty program details, and relevant contact info all in one place. It’s doubly important that the information should be accessible offline if needed. So, where should you keep it all?
Expense reporting can feel like a massive waste of time, mainly because tracking money takes longer than spending it. Help your client get expense reporting done in a flash and download a receipt-scanning app for them. Even if the company hasn’t officially onboarded such an app, it can be a lifesaver for each employee. If they handle expense reporting on their own, you can pre-fill some of the trip details in the reports.
A well-organized travel itinerary, for some, is the most critical aspect. When done correctly, a travel itinerary can become an essential part of your client’s trip. Details and consistency in any itinerary are crucial, but the most critical part of creating an itinerary ensures it is complete and easy to follow.
When traveling, it is essential to note the chronology of events. If they are flying, be sure to include the departure and arrival airport with the flight and seat numbers, airline, and corresponding times. Booking travel as a Virtual Assistant involves getting people from one place to another. When are cars needed? Are the travelers using scheduled services such as limos or town cars, or are they taking taxis? What about ridesharing or public transport? This needs to be thought out and provided to the travelers.
Hotel information is a vital part of any travel itinerary, so it’s important to note the exact address and name of the hotel. When booking travel as a Virtual Assistant forgetting about lodging, as you can imagine, would not end well. Multiple hotels in the same vicinity may exist under the same franchise, and many have similar names in the same areas. Include the phone number for the front desk and the reservation confirmation number, as well as check-in and check-out times.
Be sure to note their final day at the hotel on the itinerary and include the time they are due to check out. This note will also serve as a reminder to check out of the hotel to avoid any potential surcharges.
When booking travel as a Virtual Assistant, you need to think about free time and timing. Add who your client will be meeting with, the topic of discussion, or the reason behind the meeting. As a Virtual Assistant, you must be thorough; include pertinent information about any individuals involved in the meeting with your clients, such as their online bio, LinkedIn information, or CV, as an appendix to the itinerary. It will prepare the client you support with snapshot information before their meeting, so they never have to struggle to recall who.
Confirm appointments and reservations a day or two before they occur. Twenty-four hours before a flight or train departure, check with the company to inquire about potential delays. Call banks and credit card companies to notify them of the traveler’s plans, locations, and travel dates.
Banks and credit card companies will sometimes freeze accounts if they believe there is possible fraudulent activity. Finally, email an electronic copy to your client and anyone else they request a copy sent to (their spouse, business partner, etc.). Print off several copies for them to keep in their carry-on, briefcase, and purse, and print a hard copy for yourself for easy access.
Remember to keep up-to-date knowledge of all trip details, the ability to reach out for help at any point, quickly take care of administrative tasks while away, get the travel experience they expect, and unique or restorative moments. These tips will help you to think outside of the box the next time you plan business travel.
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