Your boss had a bad business trip. Now what?Sharing economy travel providers give you the flexibility to quickly respond to unexpected developments
If you are tasked with booking travel for your boss or the company’s executive team, you know firsthand there are plenty of reasons a business trip can go wrong. While most of the causes are beyond your control, that doesn’t mean you won’t be held accountable for everything from a delayed flight to a less-than-satisfactory hotel experience.
That’s where using sharing economy travel providers comes in.
“It’s a no-brainer to use sharing economy travel services, a lot easier on you and your executive than conventional car services and hotels,” said Victoria Louise Rabin, a former executive assistant who now heads the Executive Assistants Organization (EAO). “Shared services are a lot more flexible and have a lot more availability in a lot more locations that are better for your traveler.”
And, if things go wrong, Rabin said, “Shared travel services give you a lot more opportunity to get all the moving parts that go into a business trip back in sync and save the day.”
Changes and challenges
People who travel for work—and those who book their trips—are used to dealing with the major changes and minor inconveniences that inevitably arise from time to time. Bad weather delays flights and snarled traffic can turn a drive into a crawl. Meeting schedules change at the last minute and destroy a web of carefully coordinated flights and hotel bookings. Too many hours in the air, not enough sleep, and jet lag can wear on the energy level and good humor of the most even-tempered traveler.
Major changes in temperature at different destinations can also cause travelers discomfort.
“Change in climate is always an issue, even if the weather is okay,” said Sabine Buselmeier, Team Assistant for the Ganter Group, an international construction and real estate company based near Freiburg, Germany. “My people travel to a project in the Middle East and it’s 40℃ (104℉), then they go to Moscow and it’s -20℃ (-4℉). To deal with the changes in climate and the jet lag and cramming too many meetings into too few hours is hard. They can have a bad trip even when everything goes perfectly.”
Advantages of using sharing economy travel services
As Rabin outlined, there are plenty of advantages to using shared travel services. When it comes to using ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft for local transportation, your boss can always get a ride, whatever the time. You don’t have to rebook that black car at the last minute when your boss gets stuck in a meeting or delayed by a flight change, and hope both car and driver can cope with the new schedule.
Sharing economy travel services give you a lot more opportunity to get all the moving parts that go into a business trip back in sync and save the day.
Alternative accommodations can make an even bigger difference in the trip experience. For example, Ashley Schmitz, Regional Lead Executive Assistant for Campari America, uses Airbnb so she can customize trips for each road warrior on her leadership team.
“I support five different executives and each of them has different preferences, comes from a different culture, and travels to different places,” Schmitz said. “Some people prefer proximity to the office they are visiting, some focus on the hotel and are willing to stay farther away. And for executives who have had enough of hotels, Airbnb gives them more choice and lets them relax.”
Some business travelers prefer the standardized ambience of a hotel. But many others prefer apartments or houses that have all the comforts of home, complete with a kitchen and space to work and relax. Some executives specifically ask their executive assistant to book an alternative accommodation like Airbnb instead of a hotel.
Campari America illustrates the point. Campari’s global headquarters is in Milan, Italy, which means executives make regular trips to the city for stays of seven to ten days as well as attending industry events there.
“When we have a convention in Milan, there is a hotel room block where everyone in the company from all around the world stays,” said Schmitz. “The last time around, my CEO had me cancel his hotel. He wanted to stay in an Airbnb because it was more comfortable than the hotel. We got a little pushback from headquarters, but my boss said, ‘No, I’m going to be comfortable.’ Especially for longer stays, my executives think sharing economy accommodations are the way to go.”
There are times sharing economy accommodations are the only way to go. Hotels in major convention cities from San Francisco to Zurich routinely book out weeks before major events, and if there are any rooms available, surge pricing pushes the price way up. That can leave business travelers in the lurch.
“Shared accommodations save the day when we have to send someone to a city with a big trade fair and hotels are fully booked,” Buselmeier said. “Places like London and New York and Frankfurt give me big problems with hotels when trade fairs are on. Shared accommodations give me alternatives. I can find something very good on very short notice. And for the same cost as a hotel, or many times less, I can find an apartment in a better location, that has more space, and is much more comfortable. I can give my team a better trip without all the trouble it can take to book a hotel.”
Ease of booking, along with the flexibility to respond to the inevitable changes and inconveniences that occur during business trips, makes sharing economy travel providers a great option for anybody tasked with booking and managing travel for their boss or executive team.