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Get and stay connected

Learn six ways you can stay connected to your small business and improve its productivity when you have to travel

The American Small Business Travelers Alliance (ASBTA) says that in today’s society, small businesses can’t afford to conduct business solely from their offices. The ability to stay connected to the office, business partners, and customers is vital to success.

The effective responsiveness of small businesses means more than just having a business cell phone and making an occasional call from the road. It means collaboration, sending and receiving e-mail, and keeping calendar and businesses documents updated wirelessly by synchronization among other tasks.

Learn how you and your employees can stay on the go with business travel or personal obligations and still conduct business as usual.

Six productivity trends

According to the ASBTA, there are six productivity trends that will play a major role in how small businesses stay competitive with larger corporations, reduce costs, and better meet customer needs.

ASBTA’s research identifies the following top six travel productivity trends that will have the biggest effect on small businesses in the next two years:

• In-flight Wi-Fi: Now offered in-flight, Gogo Wi-Fi (www.gogoinflight.com) allows you to stay connected to your business while flying. Each paid Gogo session includes full Internet, VPN, and e-mail access. Gogo Wi-Fi can be pre-purchased or paid for inflight, and can cost as little as $4.95 for short trips, $12.95 for single flights three hours or longer, and $34.95 for unlimited.

•GPS Technology: A GPS unit is absolutely invaluable if you’re trying to navigate an unfamiliar city. A GPS unit will ensure you’ll get to your meeting, even if you miss a turn. The GPS unit recalculates routes and revises directions based on your location, no matter where you are.

More advanced GPS units include the option to download local attractions, gas stations, stores, and restaurants. To maximize GPS productivity, look for a GPS unit with a traffic receiver accessory to give the most recent route updates.

•Security: Security continues to be a significant issue for small businesses.  Wireless connectivity increases that concern for everyday activities. Companies must defend against viruses, spyware, and system intrusions.

According to Chuck Sharp, president of ASBTA, “Internet security often is a vulnerability many small businesses haven’t adequately addressed. If businesses are not proactive by implementing anti-virus, firewall, and spyware solutions, the result may be disrupted productivity. Begin immediately and be proactive by continuously updating the virus and spy definitions”

•Technology adoption and life cycle: The adoption of new technologies has been a vital component to the increased productivity of small businesses. According to ASBTA surveys, more small business employees are traveling with a laptop. “Technology continues to evolve, so it is important to set realistic goals and schedules to purchase new technology,” Sharp said.

•Wi-Fi Hotspots: Rapid growth, diversity in technology, and the widespread deployment of Wi-Fi Hotspots have greatly increased business traveler productivity. Businesses utilize Wi-Fi connections at Hotspots, airline clubs, hotels, coffee shops, and restaurants as well as utilizing Google or Yahoo to find Wi-Fi enabled locations.  The need to stay connected has led to an increased demand for laptops, PDAs, and smart phones.

“Small businesses have readily embraced the concept of the Extended Office,” said Sharp. “The ability to conduct business wherever you are, whenever you choose, with the same capabilities significantly improves productivity.”

•Airport conference facilities: Productivity advances during travel begin at the airport. Major airlines and the airports themselves are making it possible for business travelers to effectively utilize any wait with greatly improved and easily accessible facilities.

For example: American Airlines enables businesses to save valuable time and travel expense by meeting onsite at the airport, utilizing state-of-the-art meeting facilities at Admirals Club Executive Centers. Executive Centers are fully equipped with everything from computer data ports and speakerphones to slide and data projectors, and customers have access to other necessary office equipment, such as paper shredders and copiers.

Embrace the new

These are challenging times for small businesses. Sharp suggests, “Recognizing and embracing new productivity trends for everyday activities will keep small businesses relevant, while affording them the opportunity for incredible impact and growth in their industries.”

American Small Business Travelers Alliance (ASBTA) is a national organization serving small business travelers by providing information regarding resources and services, savings on air fares, car rentals, and accommodations, as well as technology designed to improve and enhance your travel experience. For more information, visit www.asbta.com.


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