Work travel is unavoidable. As much as digital solutions are bringing the world together, there’s ultimately only so much that can get done effectively online and over the phone before it’s time to pack your bags and trek to a different city.
For some of our clients, travel is a way of life. For others, it’s an infrequent treat or inconvenience. But no matter how often you travel, putting the details of the planning process into the hands of a capable virtual assistant can both save you time and make the trip as pleasant as possible—if your assistant is prepared with the right travel preference information.
While it may come across as a simple skill, making travel arrangements for someone else can get complicated, especially when you work remotely. When you start planning even the simplest of trips, the list of details to consider can add up pretty quickly. Without enough information up front, a simple request to “Look at flights for my trip to DC next month”, can turn into a 5 email exchange before your VA even begins the search.
Whether you’re building a relationship with a new virtual assistant or trying to improve your process with an established employee, use this quick and easy travel preference checklist to set your travel booker up for success—and minimize questions down the line.
Yes, I know these seem like obvious basics. But covering these items from the start will save you lots of back-and-forth down the line!
- Full Name as printed on ID
- Home Address (for car pick-ups and/or credit card info)
- Known Travelers Number (for expedited security clearance)
Scheduling Travel Preferences
Depart and Return Date
If the dates of your conference or event are on your calendar, you might assume that’s all your VA needs. Not so fast! Do you typically fly in morning of, or prefer to have an evening to network and settle in? Do you plan to stay until the bitter end, or cut out early for personal events at home? Over-communicating about your general travel preference as well as at the beginning of each booking process will save you time down the line.
Preferred Travel Times
Some clients swear by early morning flights, while others never travel before noon. While some want a solid three hour window before their flight to get to the airport with plenty of time, others are happy to skate in just as final boarding is called. Share your flight time preference with your VA for both departures and returning flights, as well as how much of a buffer to include in your travel schedule.
Preferred Home Airport
If you live in a city with multiple airports, which is your preference? Do you aim for the least crowded airport, the closest to where you live, or the most convenient flight?
Preferred Airlines & Loyalty Numbers
Gotta get those mileage points!
Are you usually happy in coach, but want to spring for the upgrade when flying from San Francisco to Miami? Do you spring for first class only when a miles upgrade is available? Or if you’re tall like me, up to $30 dollars for more leg room is money well spent.
For frequent travelers, seat location can be a deal breaker. Some clients would rather choose another flight if an aisle seat wasn’t an option, or would rather fly out at six in the morning than suffer in the back half of the plane. Give your VA first, second, and third travel preference options, as well as any seating deal breakers.
Some travelers take a hard pass on “pond hoppers” or other smaller sized planes. Give your assistant a heads up if you have strong opinions on this matter.
Gotta have it? Willing to pay for it? A bonus but not a big deal either way? Let your VA know how you feel about staying connected from the skies.
Level of difficulty on this one will vary drastically based on airport preference. For instance, when you’re in the New York City area, the convenience of grabbing a cab or Uber from Manhattan to Newark can be tempting, but taking New Jersey transit is not only cheaper, it’s also faster and much more reliable. Or depending on your itinerary, you may prefer to rent a car! Be sure to share travel preference and how you’d like to manage ground transportation, whether it should be booked in advance, and any relevant loyalty or rewards program information.
Hotel / Overnight Stays
You may have a hotel chain that knows you by name and has earned your unwavering loyalty—or you might be more concerned with location, amenities, or group preferences. Help your VA narrow down travel preference options by sharing these thoughts from the start. Here are a few more hotel specifics to share:
- Preferred Chain
- Loyalty/Rewards Information
- Amenity Preferences: Free WiFi? Gym, pool, or sauna? Free breakfast?
- Bed Size
Budget and Payment
Of course we all know the skill of predicting flight prices can feel like trying to feed spaghetti to a baby. Some of your VA’s attempts will be accurate, but the results are going to end up all over the place. This is also a good time to share if travel is being billed to you, or kept in house, for ease of accounting later down the line. If they are used to using multiple payment methods, now’s a good time to clarify which is appropriate.
Before you get overwhelmed by this list, remember that the more information a virtual assistant has from the start, the more likely they are to get it right the first time. And good news! As you teach your VA your travel preferences and set them up from success from the beginning, you’ll soon find that they’ve practically read your mind.
Don’t have anyone to tackle your travel booking to-do list? Reach out to us about adding one of our top-notch VA’s to your team.