When Things Go Wrong: Traveling with the Wrong Travel Card

Traveling for business offers a multitude of potential mishaps. From delayed flights to last minute cancellations, a traveler must be prepared for anything. Not only do travelers need to have proper awareness before an extended trip, but companies should be providing their traveling employees with the best and most efficient resources to make the trip a hassle-free experience. This will lead to better engagement with clients and possibly more profitability for the company.

In my travels across the globe, there have been several occasions where better research and preparation from a company would have lead to a less stressful environment while working outside of the company’s base location.

Financials are normally the most important aspect of travel and within a company in general. It stands to reason that program managers should not send an employee to a location without giving that employee the peace of mind that they will not be paying for travel or incidentals out-of-pocket unless explicitly written in a contract.

While it is important to travel with peace of mind, mistakes happen. Some companies get into a contract with credit card companies and travel agencies that are not globally recognized or accepted, and it can hinder the travel of the employees. The research done before finalizing these financial contracts are of utmost importance to the well-being of the company and it's employees.

What follows is only a few brief accounts of poor decisions that were made without thorough vetting of potential travel locations and the financial needs of the employees going to those locations:

Renting a car in Djibouti is nearly impossible with American Express:

During my business travels, I have had to make quick alternate routes to check future working conditions in new locations. One such time was a 30 day last-minute trip to Djibouti to set up a new office for my coworkers that would be travelling to the country. I was on a team of three workers but was the only employee for my company; and thus needed my own transportation in the country. While reserving and paying for a hotel room with my corporate AMEX card was a breeze, finding a car rental location that accepted my corporate card was impossible.

After discussing the situation with my management team, it was decided that I would use my own personal card and file for a reimbursement with the company at the end of the trip. While I was fortunate enough to have the funds in place through savings, it is easy to see how less prepared individuals would have trouble paying that money up front and waiting to be reimbursed.

Finding accommodations for a team of travelers in Niger:

Personalities among team leaders can differ in a multitude of ways. Some are very flexible and will do anything to get the job done in any situation. Once, in Niger, our accommodations contract had expired. Within two days, we would need to find proper living arrangements that were safe and offered 24/7 security.

The first attempt was a disaster. The only way to find accommodations in the country on such short notice was through Airbnb. All hotels had been booked to capacity through the end of the week. The Airbnb was not what it had claimed to be, and the language barrier made voicing our displeasure difficult. The security that was provided was subpar and the location was not as “safe and well-lit” as described.

After only a week in the Airbnb, a hotel with enough rooms for our team became available and was quickly reserved for the team. Again, the corporate card issued by the company was not accepted and the team lead was paying for the team’s accommodations through a personal account.

While it is invaluable for a company to have managers and team leads that will go above and beyond, those leaders should never have to shoulder a financial burden for the company to get the job done.

Know before you go:

It is important to provide the correct corporate travel card and agency for a travelling employee. The company should also provide a quick breakdown of the travel experience in the target location. This is most assuredly the case in austere or less traveled locations.

If an employee is traveling to a country like Kenya, but will not be staying exclusively in the capital of Nairobi and will need to travel by air to various other towns and villages in Kenya, the traveling employee will need to know that their next flight may be at Nairobi’s Wilson airport. While the distance between the two airports is ten miles away, traffic can delay transportation between airports for up to an hour. Also, not all drivers are aware of the airport; so having quality transportation before arriving in Nairobi should be of paramount importance.

Traveling employees should not burdened with the task of researching safety, security, monetary, etc. concerns. Furthermore, companies should not be trying to find a one size fits all protective intelligence program. That is why Aucoin Analytics has teamed up with Morton Executive Decisions to provide tailored analysis that fits a company’s size and need. You don’t need to hire a full-time analyst and you don’t need to spend your company into bankruptcy trying to cater to all your analytical needs.

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