Bringing A Guest On A Business Trip
When circumstances allow, it can be great to bring a guest along on a business trip. You’ll have companionship during your downtime, and your guest can take advantage of a company-paid hotel stay.
And if you extend your business trip into bleisure travel by adding a couple of days in your destination, you’ll already have your travel buddy with you when it’s time to transition into your leisure time.
However, it’s important to plan ahead to ensure a smooth and enjoyable business trip with your guest in tow. Read on for our top tips and things to keep in mind when you’re bringing a plus-one.
Does Your Company Allow Guests On Business Trips?
Before diving into the plans, it’s important to get the details on your company’s policies surrounding corporate trips and additional guests.
Since “bleisure” (business + leisure) travel is becoming more common in the workplace, HR managers are increasingly including these scenarios in the company’s travel policy.
Check your company’s policy to find out:
- What travel expenses and discount travel they will cover and for whom
- How beginning and end dates of the work trip are clearly defined when a trip is extended
- To what extent, and to whom, they will extend their duty of care
- Any potential risks that are present at your travel destination
While it may seem strange to ask permission to share a room with your partner or child, your company could have a policy against it.
Play it safe and let your HR or project manager know you’d like to bring a guest.
If you plan to extend the trip, communicate these plans as well. You’ll also need to discuss how to handle the hotel room reservation for your non-work days. If you have a Hotel Engine personal account, it’s easy to extend a business trip for leisure travel — but if not, it can get complicated to determine how booking and reimbursement is handled.
Communicate Expectations To Your Guest
You also need to communicate with your guest(s) to make sure they understand the expectations and itinerary.
Family Members And Friends
Trip companions should understand that you are primarily traveling for business purposes.
The trip’s main objective is to complete all business tasks. A spouse’s presence cannot get in the way of the work you were sent to accomplish.
It’s best to let your companion know up front when you will and won’t be available to spend time with them. It can be hard to find that happy balance between personal and professional commitments, but establishing boundaries in advance is helpful.
In some cases, it may make sense to bring a paid companion on your trip. For example, if you’re traveling with children, you might bring a nanny along to help you manage childcare when you’re working. Disabled travelers may also bring a health aid along for support.
Traveling With A Spouse
When you travel a lot for work, your spouse might begin to feel lonely, and taking them with you occasionally can help to alleviate some of that.
Here is how your travel plans may need to change when you bring your significant other:
If you have flexibility in what hotel you book for your trip, you might want to consider your spouse. Hotels with a spa, fitness center or pool can help keep them occupied when you’re busy working.
You may want to find a site in close proximity to attractions and restaurants. Many hotels have one or more food choices inside the building itself.
You will need to plan for this with your employer well ahead of the trip, as they may already have booked a block of rooms.
Remember that any additional costs incurred on a hotel upgrade are likely to be your responsibility.
Except for sharing rides with you to mutual destinations like the airport or your hotel, your partner will need to book and pay for their own transportation. That includes plane and other fare tickets.
Plan ahead of time how your guest will get where they need to go while you’re working. You may need to rent a separate car for your guest.
Work-Related Social Functions
Even though your spouse isn’t traveling for work, there are often opportunities to involve them in some of your activities.
When appropriate, it can be great to bring significant others along to more casual client dinners and networking events. Getting to know your spouse can help make a client feel more comfortable with you.
If you’re traveling for a conference or corporate event, guests may be welcome to the opening celebration or closing gala.
Of course, always double-check with your manager or the trip planner — don’t just assume that your guest will be invited.
Be sure that your spouse understands the correct etiquette and behaves graciously with your clients and colleagues. Even if they’re not an official part of your organization, as your guest, they’ll represent the company too.
Traveling With Your Kids
While bringing another adult along can require slight adjustments, bringing your children is a whole other ballgame.
There are many more preparations to make in order to pull this off.
Will your spouse be there to care for the child?
If not, you’ll have to find a hotel that has daycare in-house or nearby, or as we mentioned earlier, look into hiring a travel nanny.
Here’s what to consider if you’re looking into childcare at your destination:
- What age ranges are covered?
- What is the child/adult ratio?
- What kind of activities do they offer?
- What are the hours of operation?
Even if your spouse is coming to help out, you should book a family-friendly hotel.
For most of these, baby gear is available at no charge so you won’t need to pack things like a playpen, high chair or crib. Some hotels do a fantastic job of providing extra amenities for young children.
When you check in, don’t forget to childproof the room.
Ask your employer to book a hotel close to where you will be conducting most of your business. You want easy access to your child in the event of an emergency.
Finding a hotel that meets all these requirements may seem like a difficult task, but Hotel Engine can make this process easy with search filters.
If you’re booking a car for your transportation and you have a young child, make sure to either bring your car seat along, or find a car rental company that can provide the safety gear you’ll need.
Traveling With Your Friend
Friends can also be good travel companions on business trips.
Having your bestie along can provide a reason to look forward to the trip, knowing that it won’t be all hard work and no play.
Of course, like with other types of guests, your friend will have to be prepared to pay their own way (other than the hotel room, if you’re comfortable sharing and it’s permitted by your employer).
Here are some other things to consider about bringing a friend on a work trip:
You and your friend can decide if they’ll share your room or get their own. You could also book a suite, or request adjoining rooms, to be close together but still have your own space.
Be sure to give your employer a heads up if they will be sharing your room. While it’s not likely to make a difference to them, some company policies may have different rules regarding bringing a family member vs a friend.
If you can choose your own hotel, let your friend help pick it out. They’ll likely be spending a lot more downtime there than you will, so you’ll want to make sure that it’s somewhere they can feel comfortable.
Ask them about their preferences:
- Do they want a hotel with a pool?
- Would they be interested in spending time in a hotel lounge?
- Do they have any preference when it comes to location?
Transportation considerations for friends are the same as spousal accommodations.
They can share rides when you’re going to the same place, but can’t expect to use company assets for personal use.
Traveling With A Paid Companion
If you’re bringing a nanny along to care for your children, here’s what to keep in mind.
Be sure to discuss compensation — will you pay a wage in addition to covering all their travel costs? If they’re already in your employ for day-to-day childcare, will you pay them a travel bonus?
You’ll need to book an extra room adjacent (or in close proximity) to your room. A suite is a good option in this scenario, so that you can share common spaces.
You will be responsible for paying for their accommodations and any room upgrades needed for them.
What Should Your Guest Do While You Work?
Bringing along a spouse, kids or a friend on a business trip is great when you aren’t working. They get to share many of the perks of your travel plans.
But what about when you are busy with your business responsibilities? How can you help them find something to keep them busy? While it’s ultimately up to them to decide how to fill their time, here are a few suggestions you can offer.
Significant Other Or Friend
It is best to research the city you will be visiting beforehand. Many places, like NYC, offer a walking tour or a CityPASS for local attractions.
Think about your schedule too. Will you have time in the evenings to enjoy some time out and about with your guest? If not, you might want to think about extending your trip — otherwise, you’re sure to end up with FOMO as your guest has all the fun and you spend all your time working.
If your days will be jam-packed with business meetings, see if you can arrive early or stay a couple of days after.
Your friends may have their own agenda on this business trip, but they would no doubt enjoy some time with you. Discuss what they would like to see and do on this trip. They can plan on doing some things while you’re busy, but if there’s anything you really want to do at your destination, make sure to plan it for a time that you’ll both be free.
If your whole family is coming along, they can enjoy some recreation and sightseeing together and you can join them after work hours or on the weekend.
If your child will be coming alone with you, you’ll need to pick some activities to help keep them entertained both on the trip there and while they wait for you to return to the hotel. If you’re bringing a travel nanny, you can also ask them to plan an itinerary.
Of course, if your hotel has a daycare service that will cover the full hours that you’ll be busy with work, you won’t have to worry about a thing.
If you’re bringing an older child or teen, find out if there are daycamps, classes or other all-day activities they could attend.
Travel Nannies Or Paid Companions
Another thing to discuss with your travel nanny is whether they’ll have some time off to do as they please. It’s a nice gesture to give them at least a few hours to themselves each day to explore on their own.
How To Handle Expenses
Expenses your companion incurs will most likely not be covered by your business travel allotment.
Make sure to purchase everything separately for your guest, or at least keep track of your expenditure so that you can easily separate out what you’ll be reimbursed for by the company.
A company will often provide a business credit card or virtual account for incidentals instead of providing reimbursement for these expenses later. Your company will want you to pay only for your own expenses. This includes any charges to your room (which may be time stamped on your hotel folio).
Some exclusions apply to this rule, since you won’t incur any more expenses with one more person in tow. For instance, if you share hotel accommodations, the room and continental breakfast can be enjoyed by your companion without extra expense.
Any taxi or shuttle rides you will be using for business purposes won’t cost any extra for your companion, so there is no need to keep these separate.
It is important to keep receipts for everything. Both business expenses and the expenses of the companion will need to be properly documented in an expense report.
This way, if your boss questions anything, you can prove you paid for everything separately.
Many times the IRS requires the company to pay per diem as part of your income while traveling. You need to know these rates and stay within this range if this is company policy. For more information on how the IRS views these expenses, see the Spousal Travel page.
The key elements to consider when bringing a guest on a business trip are hotel accommodations, transportation, entertainment and keeping good expense records.
Follow the tips above and you’ll be able to include guests without the extra stress.
Cara Meglio is a Copywriter at Hotel Engine. She assists with content creation, researching and writing articles to help businesses improve their travel experience and discover helpful solutions with Hotel Engine. Cara has a passion for travel of all types. Based in Denver, CO, Cara loves exploring the Mountain West as well as international destinations.