Managing travel for another person can be challenging. We all have our own preferences for how things are booked, how we are informed, and how involved we want to be in the decision making process. As no executive is the same, finding out how yours prefers to approach travel will be important when planning her trips.
Most executives will fall into one of these three categories when it comes to planning their travel:
Type 1: “Just tell me where to be and when”
Some executives are not interested in the details and do not want to spend their time researching, coordinating, or really even deciding. These executives are looking for an EA who can take this burden off their hands, and deliver results in a foolproof, pretty package.
This type of executive might sound like a dream to some of us. Let us focus on the details to free the executive to do what she does best! However, it is really important to ensure you have a good understanding of her preferences, her priorities, and her needs. You don’t want to have to go back to your exec with questions, and you also don’t want to book travel that doesn’t align with her needs. Gather this info as early in the relationship as you can, document it well, and maintain and update it as you learn.
Type 2: “Show me my options”
As many of you know, uncovering the many options when planning a trip can take time—valuable time that your executive doesn’t have and doesn’t want to spend on this task. This executive wants to be the ultimate decision-maker, but she doesn’t want to do the research herself. In a perfect world, she will be delivered detailed options where she can simply review and choose.
When you are working with this type of executive, try to find the option that makes the most sense and matches her preferences, then recommend that option to her right off the bat (while still including the other detailed options). This will make her decision easier and faster and will show her that you are aligned with her needs, allowing her to trust you.
Type 3 “I’ll do it myself”
There are executives out there who have a hard time passing off tasks. A “Do it myself” executive is just that—someone who wants to just do the research and book it herself. Your job is to make your executive’s job easier and free up her time so she can focus on what she should really be doing. Planning and booking travel is probably not the best use of her time. The key to excelling with this type of executive is to work with her and gain her trust. It may take time, but be persistent. Learn her preferences and find opportunities to show her you can lighten her load.
Identify what type of executive you work for early on. It will help you to personalize your approach to managing her travel, and to gain her trust quickly by meeting her travel needs her way.