Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

July 18 2016

4 Tips To Make Global Travel More Efficient And More Affordable

Mary Reynolds Kane

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Working in the meetings industry means spending plenty of time in new places around the world. As more organizations recognize the importance of a global strategy for attendee engagement, meeting professionals are earning quite a few new passport stamps. If you’re making site visits outside the US and hosting events in never-been-to-before countries, here are four tips to help save money, time and headaches during all those journeys.

1) Download the Mobile Passport app.

By now, you’ve heard of Global Entry. If you haven’t had time to register for an interview or don’t want to spend the $100 on the application fee, there’s another helpful option to save some time: Mobile Passport. This free mobile application lets you ditch the paper customs form when returning to the United States and ushers you into a speedy line for reentry. The process is simple: set up a profile, enter in your typical customs information, snap a selfie and receive a QR code. Studies have shown that Mobile Passport users require only about one-fifth the time in line as a regular passenger. Passengers can currently use the tool at 14 major airports in the US with plans to add more hubs in the near future. You can download the iPhone and Android versions here.

2) Renew your passport early.

Speaking of passports, Mobile Passport won’t eliminate the need for your physical document, and passport applications do not move at right-here, right-now mobile speed. You have a meeting outside the US in September, and your passport expires in late October. You’re fine, right? Not so fast. Renewing your passport isn’t like renewing your driver’s license. Rather than waiting until the last minute to complete the paperwork, it’s good to embrace the six-month rule: if your passport is due to expire within the next 180 days, you’ll want to get a new one. Otherwise, you may face challenges when you arrive at your destination due to customs officials who don’t want you stuck in their country when your passport expires.

MORE: Everything You Need To Know About Getting A New Passport

3) Consider a new credit card.

The majority of credit cards charge an additional percentage for every transaction you make in a foreign currency. While three percent may not sound like much, those fees can add up for regular road warriors. If your role in the meetings industry requires quite a bit of time outside your home country, it may be time to explore your options. Click here for a look at some of the best cards that come with zero foreign transaction fees. Be sure to do plenty of comparison shopping based on your spending habits before opening a new card.

4) Create a communications plan.

Your smartphone addiction won’t serve you well when you’re outside your domestic turf. With sky-high data costs and hefty per-minute calling rates, you can run the risk of returning home to a massive mobile bill. You can make simple add-on features to your existing plan to allow for free text messaging and a limited amount of data, but you’ll also want to strategize about which messaging app to use while you’re gone. The most popular services include Skype, WhatsApp and Viber. They’re all valuable tools that can save you loads of cash and help you stay in touch, but they’re only effective if your friends, family and colleagues are using them as well. Before you leave, pick a service, and let your friends (at home and in the new destination) know that they should use it, too.

Do you have any tips and tricks to share with your colleagues? Share your comments below as the PCMA.org editorial team works to continue helping the convention community get from here to there — wherever “there” may be — with ease.

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