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Advisors, Private Equity

What to Do Right Now to Prep for 2016 Travel

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From closing out this year’s deals to planning the firm strategy, there are plenty of things to consider as we close out 2015 and head into the new year.

One of these things is your 2016 schedule. Sure, it may sound crazy to plan out a trip that’s 8 months out, but in reality, it will make your life (and your colleagues’ lives) a lot easier. Take a little bit of time in the next month to go through the below steps and create a flexible travel schedule for 2016.

Decide on your must-hit cities.

First and foremost, make a list of the places you know you want to visit (and how many times you will need to be there). Not only will this be helpful when it comes to budget planning, but it will bring to the forefront any over- or under-emphasized regions. It’s better to realize in January that you have no trips planned to the Midwest than to realize it in August, when you have a lot less wiggle room in your budget and schedule.

Additionally, create a list of second-tier cities that you would like to visit, but that aren’t priorities. You’ll now have an easily-accessible list to pull from if your schedule opens up.

Create an event calendar.

Which events last year were a good use of time? Were there events you weren’t able to attend that got rave reviews from others in the industry?

Like your must-hit cities list,  creating a list of all of the events you’re planning to attend will ensure your market coverage is what it should be. If you’re a generalist, you shouldn’t only plan to attend healthcare-focused conferences. Likewise, if you’re industry-specific, you should plan to incorporate at least one or two industry events.

Need ideas? Use your colleagues and peers in the industry to create the most comprehensive list possible. Or, if you’re a subscriber to industry organizations, reach out and ask for their calendar. Many (including Axial) will be happy to share this list with their clients and members.

Make the most of each trip.

As discussed in this article on travel best practices, plan to take full advantage of each and every trip. If you’re going to be in the Chicago area to visit a client, tack on an extra day to meet with deal professionals in the area. On the flip side, if you’ve got a meeting with an investor or advisor, do a quick search on Axial to find relevant companies within the metro area.

Another idea: Cross-check the lists that you made to create a mini roadshow. If you’re already planning to fly somewhere cross-country, you can save both time and money by hitting multiple cities in the area at once.

For example, if you’re flying from New York to LA for Wednesday meetings, rather than waste two working days that will be consumed by travel, fly into San Francisco Sunday night, use Monday and Tuesday for Bay Area meetings, fly down to LA on Tuesday evening for your “main” meetings, and then visit your portfolio company in Phoenix for a quarterly onsite before heading home. Not only will those in-between flights cost you less, but they will save you from having to make three separate travel-heavy trips.

Broaden your scope.

Once you have an idea of where you’d like to go and what events you’d like to attend, sit down with your team and compare lists. Rather than send half of the team to Dallas in Q2, it probably makes most sense to send a few of those people to some tier two locations. The same goes for events; rather than send five people to a small, 150-person conference, spread some of those bodies out at other events to get more market coverage for your firm.

Leave room to get creative.

Even after all of this planning, new things will inevitably pop up over the course of the year, and you will, of course, have unexpected client meetings and visits. To account for this,  incorporate a buffer into your BD budget. That way, when September rolls around and you hear of a can’t-miss event in a few weeks, you will have the flexibility to try it out.   Not to mention, you’ll probably get some major points from your finance department if, come December, you’ve got a few extra dollars rather than a budget that’s in the red!

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