3-4 Set Up Travel – Airlines, hotels, ground transport

It is vitally important that the speaker arrive at the speech fresh and ready to go. And it’s also important that the materials, such as products, books and handouts make their way to the speech in good condition.

Speakers are very particular about their travel. And that’s because they do a lot of it. Traveling is no longer a luxury or a novel thing, it is something they have to do to get to the speech and so it is very important to them that they are as comfortable as possible in the process.

The VSAs Role in This Process

1. Have the speaker complete the Speaker Travel Preferences Checklist so you have all the basics to do the rest of the work.
2. Talk to the speaker about the specific event and the logistics surrounding it.
3.Determine from the contract how the reimbursement for travel will work and make sure the speaker can live with/meet any requirements
4. Make the airline reservations OR have a travel agent handle this.
5. Make sure that a hotel room has been reserved by the meeting planner for the dates the speaker needs if that is what the contract states OR make hotel reservations for the speaker OR have a travel agent handle the hotel reservations.
6. Arrange for ground transportation (rental car or car service from the airport)
7. Arrange for sending and delivery of materials and products (detailed elsewhere in this course)
8. Create an itinerary with other trip information to email to the speaker just before the trip.
9. Call the speaker once the speaker is at the hotel to make sure things are going as they should and to offer help if boxes didn’t arrive, etc.

Travel Preferences

Some speakers like aisle seats, some speakers like window seats and some speakers want the exit rows for more leg room. Some speakers want to fly first class, but they don’t want the first row in first class, because they have to put their laptop overhead versus underneath their seat.

Travel Preferences Checklist

Travel Reimbursement Request

Travel Itinerary to Speaker

Some speakers have dietary concerns that you need to let the airlines know. If the speaker is flying first class, is she a vegetarian, does she want a kosher meal?

Most speakers want direct flights, but if they’re booking flights and there’s a layover, you should allow for at least an hour between flights. Most speakers don’t want to be stuck in the airport for three or four hours, but that’s a great question to ask the speaker – how close do you want to cut it? Some speakers are so experienced they have no problem walking on the plane 10 minutes before take-off. Others want to get there an hour and a half before flight time so they can go to the airport club and have coffee and relax or get some work done.

Generally, speakers do not like to leave on Sundays, since that is personal or family time. A lot of speakers would rather get home to their families rather than spend an extra night, so a lot of them have no problem with night flights.

Another important aspect of travel arrangements is backup plans. When a speaker is on the road, that speaker may need help if they miss a connection of if a flight is canceled due to weather. Ask the speaker what role they want you to play if they’re in trouble while on the road. Does the speaker want you to stay available just in case he or she needs your help with changes?

Another thing you need to ask speakers is how long do they want to stay at meetings and network. Some speakers will want to stay for the entire meeting and networking opportunities. Other speakers will want to get back right after the speech for other work or family obligations.

Speakers also pay a lot of attention to their travel loyalty programs. They use their airline miles to get first class upgrades, because many organizations will not pay for first class travel. So find out if the speaker wants to use miles to upgrade if the organization is only going to pay for a coach ticket. You will want to have a listing of the travel loyalty programs the speaker belongs to (part of the Travel Preferences form).

Most meeting planners want speakers to schedule the travel at least three weeks out to take advantage so they get the best fares since the host organization is paying for the travel expenses. The speaker does not want to pay for a non-refundable ticket because if at the last moment they book another speech in another city close by, then they will have to pay to change that ticket.

Travel Itinerary

The week before or a day or two before, it will be very helpful to the speaker if you send him or her an email to provide them with all the pertinent information for the trip in one place. The speaker may also wish you to send a copy of his or her itinerary to a spouse or business partner. Here is a sample of the information the email should provide:

TO: FROM:: Pat Smith

SUBJ: Travel Itinerary and Information for the ABC Event June 14-16 in Atlanta


Travel Dates

Time Zone

Travel Itinerary
Travel Date
Confirmation #
Airline/Flight #
Seat #

Next flight

Return Trip (Next leg)
Travel Date
Confirmation #
Airline/Flight #
Seat #

Next flight

Ground Transportation
Car service – pick up at
Airport location
Confirmation #
Approximate drive time to hotel

Hotel Information
Confirmation #
Requested room type

Local Contacts
Meeting Event Planner Contact

Contact on Site

Travel Contacts
Airline Phone #
Car Service

Local weather:

Don’t forget to take:
Business Cards
Cell phone charger
Boarding pass


Representing an International Speaker

For international travel, it is important that the client pay for business class or first class travel if outside North America for a U.S. speaker.

US Visa Letters  – Speakers from outside the United States may require a signed letter in order to obtain a U.S. visa and attend the conference. To obtain a visa letter you will need to provide ALL of the information to the meeting planner:

Embassy Information

Embassy Name:


Fax Number:

Speaker Information Name:



Country of Origin:

Passport Number:

Date of Issue:

Date of Expiration:

Next Steps

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