Reflections on A Young Pro’s First Business Trip


Business travel team work. Left to right, Jennifer Nelson, John Dangles, Natalie Poston, Caiti Bieberich
Business travel teamwork. Left to right, Jennifer Nelson, John Dangles, Natalie Poston, Caiti Bieberich

By John Dangles

Earlier this month, I experienced one of the most exciting moments in my career – my first business trip. 

This was a big opportunity in my career as it reflected my managers’ confidence in me to represent the agency and its client. In addition, this trip was the final result of months of tireless work from my team and it was an incredible experience to see our success come to life. 

With my first business trip coming to an end, I’ve been able to reflect upon this experience and hope to provide suggestions to help make the most of your future business trips. 

Preparation: Preparation can make or break a business trip – here are some suggestions on how to ensure you are fully prepared. 

1)     War-book

Our team prepared what we called, a “war-book,” which serves as the go-to binder with all of the trip details. Make no mistake, it is coined the war-book for a reason. A business trip can be a chaotic, stressful experience, but hopefully, with the war-book in hand, you will be ready for anything. 

Be sure to include an event run-of-show with hourly updates and travel information, a contact list, key event messaging and any other important documents inside of your war-book. 

Our team’s war-book saved the day when our spokesperson needed to reschedule her arrival time to the event space. Luckily, we had the flight and car service information in our war-book to easily reschedule the spokesperson’s travel. 

It may not sound like much, but when your team is staffing an event, there is little time to waste and having the war-book at your finger tips can make a major difference at alleviating an emergency situation. 

2)    Get Ahead

Get ahead on projects to ensure deadlines will be met while you are out of the office. For me, this included long workdays and having to work weekends prior to my business trip. Do not procrastinate, the earlier you start, the less stressful it will be leading up to your business trip. 

3)    Notify and Delegate

Before leaving for your business trip, be sure to notify colleagues at least a week ahead of time, so they can anticipate your absence. A few days before leaving, send a reminder to your teams of your absence and delegate any responsibilities that need to be handled while you are offsite to a colleague. 

In my situation, I had to share the social media content calendars with other team members to ensure Facebook posts, Tweets and other social media content was posted on schedule. 

Purpose: Business trips are called business trips for a reason – here are some suggestions on how to make sure you are fully focused on what matters. 

1)     Avoid Distractions

Business trips can often provide a variety of distractions. Do not get distracted and remember the reason why you are there. 

If you go out with your team for drinks, be sure not to over drink – the last thing you want is to embarrass yourself in front of your team or even worse- come home from your trip fired. Also, do not stay out too late. Business trips often require an incredible amount of energy and you will need all the sleep you can get. 

2)    Bring Your A-Game

Your company or client invested a lot of money for this business trip, be sure to bring your A-game. Be enthused to be representing your company and/or its client. In addition, do not worry about sticking to your defined role and instead, do whatever you can to make the event as successful as possible. 

For example, while staffing our event space, we had a team specifically in charge of clean up, but if I walked past a mess, I would be sure to not ignore it and clean it up. It is little things like this, which show you care and are committed to your company and/or client. 

Enjoy the Experience: Here are some suggestions on how to take more than just business results from the experience. 

1)     Take It All In

Business trips often provide a moment where all of your hard work pays off and comes to life right before your eyes. In my situation, months of planning, late nights and teamwork led to an incredibly successful event. Take it all in and enjoy the moment – you earned it! 

2)    Get to Know Your Team

If you are on a business trip with colleagues, make an effort to get to know each of your team members better. The unfortunate truth is it can be difficult to get to know your colleagues during the typical busy day-to-day work schedule. Business trips often provide time to get to know more about your teammates, outside of work. 

While on my business trip, I learned a lot about my team members and returned back to the office closer to each of them. I feel the business trip made our team stronger than before. There is nothing better than being able to work with a team you know and respect.

John Dangles is an Assistant Account Executive at Ketchum Chicago (Digital Practice). A 2012 graduate of DePaul’s PRAD master’s program, John received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in Journalism and Advertising. Within two days of returning from his first business trip, he was off again for another event in New York.

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