Travelling for business allows executives to switch up their regular routine and experience a new destination. In fact, a study has found that 70% of business travellers prefer work trips to their regular time in the office and a change in work environment can indeed bring new inspiration and a fresh perspective.
For mobile workers, airports (and airplanes) serve as their second workplace but travel woes such as long immigration queues or flight delays can all take a hit on a business traveller’s productivity. Furthermore, airports have varying complexities in their immigration processes, connectivity and facilities, which means that business travellers need to be fully equipped to make the most out of their transit time, whenever, wherever.
For those who want to breeze through immigration and get straight down to work at their favourite airport corner, here are four productivity hacks to incorporate into your travel routine.
1. Be certified: Invest in an APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC)
Business travellers who are citizens of the 19 participating Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries, such as New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand, should take advantage of the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC), a programme designed to streamline business travel. This multiple-journey-visa allows cardholders to enjoy visa-free entry and quicker immigration clearance at designated ABTC clearance lanes. Outside of APAC, cardholders can also access 'fast-track' immigration lanes usually reserved for cabin crews at all international airports in United States and selected airports in Canada.
Those not covered by this scheme can purchase Fast-Track Immigration passes for an expedited immigration clearance, a godsend for high traffic airports like Hong Kong International (HKG), Tokyo International (HND) and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK). These precious minutes saved can give you a head start to your meetings or even allow you a quick wash-up at the hotel for a clearer mind, especially after long-haul flights.
2. Beyond lounges: Know your airports
Business travellers are no stranger to airport lounges, a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of airports and a great place to get work done on the go. As airlines and airports continue to innovate to deliver the best products and services to travellers, we are seeing a whole new range of amenities and services that wary road warriors can turn to amidst their busy schedule. Apart from the usual workstations and beverage bars, many lounges now offer spa treatments and even private dining. For those not flying first or business class, check with your travel partner if there is a lounge pass available for purchase. They usually cost from $35 and are well worth the investment.
Beyond these lounges, many airports today are upping the ante on their public facilities and business travellers should take advantage of these. If you ever need to urgently print or photocopy a document, you can seek out business centres which are usually open 24 hours. Shower facilities and designated sleeping areas are also increasingly common. However, these facilities are usually tucked in the nooks and crannies of the busy transit area so be sure to do your research beforehand to get a sense of what is available to you.
3. The invisible power: Internet connection
Don’t be that guy who ends up paying a fortune for slow data roaming because you didn’t come prepared. Some countries such as China and India require an in-country mobile number for access to free Wi-Fi. Elsewhere in less developed places, the network connection may be intermittent. This builds up frustration if one is trying to send out an urgent email or access files online.
For those accessing free Wi-Fi, note that this comes with a price. Always use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or make sure that the sites visited has “https” in front of the URL. This prevents anyone from stealing sensitive passwords or accessing highly confidential files. Before disconnecting, it is always worth making the extra effort to clear one’s Internet cookies.
Our recommendation? Invest in a mobile data dongle. This highly portable, mobile dongle enables connectivity for multiple devices, whether you’re at the airport or in a car to your next meeting.
4. Stay connected: Navigating the airport at your fingertips
From finding your check-in isle, immigration checkpoints to boarding gates, navigating through the airports can be quite challenging. Yes, pictograms and displays work but it gets complicated when language differences come into the picture.
Today, business travellers can look forward to a more seamless travel experience by managing their travel needs on-the-go, with the aid of travel-centric mobile applications. These apps combine the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence and chatbots to provide instant solutions. The travel apps are the go-to source for all travel details such as flight timings, boarding information and even assigned baggage carousel upon arrival, bringing efficiency in every minute spent at the airports.
Without a doubt, tapping on technology enabled services is a smart move for a business traveller.