The importance of Planning – Being prepared for your Business Trips

by Martin Hall, Director, Peregrine Corporate Services Limited

Earlier this month I was heading to South Africa on a business trip scheduled for five days with a couple of my colleagues to deliver a variety of events which were all aimed at promoting the Isle of Man and its finance sector. The events were held across the country in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Stellenbosch and Cape Town, and included a mixture of Q&A panel sessions, private cocktail evenings and informal breakfast meetings.

These things take time to organise with many hours of work and effort being put into pulling a variety of events together. Having not organised many events myself before and looking in from the side lines, seeing how much work that goes on in the background is quite amazing. As a non-event organiser, as I'm sure like many others think that you wave a magic wand and it all comes together. Things like preparing guests list, finding suitable venues, putting event packs together, and coordinating where everyone should be throughout the week, is just a handful of examples of what goes on and I haven't even touched on the presentation preparation!

Now it was time to go on our travels. All the months of preparation and hard work to get each of the events on the road had been done, we just had to get there. Easier said than done.

A few days before Kate and I were due to travel, Basil headed out to South Africa as he had a few business meetings scheduled and since he is from the country, was busy catching up with family. Unfortunately Kate and I were to battle Storm Ciara. As I'm sure you can guess, we moved our local flight forward 24 hours to ensure we would leave the Island and arrive in the UK in time for our flights to Dubai and Johannesburg the following day. I don't need to tell you in great detail that while we made it to the UK, our international flight was cancelled to the next day, and then delayed further which meant we were unable to make it to South Africa.

The initial thought is to panic when the realisation hit us that we would not get to South Africa, and of course a feeling of disappointment that you won't make the events you have worked so tirelessly to organise. However, I felt confident that after all the organisation and work to ensure everyone was always up to speed with what was happening, we were able to log onto our lap tops and send over the already prepared documents to our colleagues who had already made it there.

Our preparation undoubtedly made our lives and their lives a whole lot easier. They were able to see straight away what needed to be done at which event and who was attending those events, which meant our fellow colleagues/hosts were able to run the events exactly as planned.

It may sometimes seem annoying that you have one of those colleagues who is always badgering you for your presentation points, or constantly asking you where you are up to on your speech, but having the necessary documentation ready before you go away speaks volumes. If you were ever under the impression "why do I need to prepare" then it's times like this that show you exactly why.

The key points to event preparation when you are travelling are:

 Try and travel on different days to at least one of your colleagues (!);

Have easy access to all the materials and documents you need;

 Ship things well in advance of your trip (i.e. banners etc.);

If you are doing a speech/presentation/panel session, write clear notes so that someone else can understand/pick up your place in an instant;

Prepare a pack for your team, which includes each other's contact details, a list of the venues, directions and delegate lists. This means that they get familiar with what you are doing and in circumstances like this, your team aren't panicking about what they are doing and where they need to be.

Travelling on business often gives you time away from the office and the opportunity to step back from the daily routine of running your business to assess what is in hand and what needs a little more attention. It's also a time to reflect on the way you do things and this is certainly one of them.

Peregrine Corporate Services Limited is licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.


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