Many business travellers out there already know that London is the most visited city for international business travel - you’ve been flying there a lot (according to the Concur T&E Spend Report). The Olympic Games take place from 24 July through 12 August 2012 and are expected to attract 500,000 foreign visitors to London. So if you have international business travel plans there during this time, you're likely to be affected. What can you do? We've put together some tips to help. The best advice? If your business trip isn't essential, reschedule it. If you aren't coming to watch the Olympics - and if your business can just as effectively be conducted via video- or telephone-conference - it may be best to see the splendour of London on "the telly" from the comfort of your favourite armchair. Bear in mind that London, with an estimated population of 7.83 million, is among the world's most densely populated cities, so it's safe to assume that this international spectacle will generate significant challenges: transportation-related, security-related, and others.
But... what if you want to catch the Olympic spirit? Or if your business trip is essential?
If you want to be part of the buzz, don't let transport challenges put a dampener on things. The UK is ready and raring to go for this epic event. The 70-day Olympic Torch Relay is already underway and has provided a minimal disruption to the affected areas while reaching 90% of the British population. And there is also plenty of help and advice available for travellers who will be watching the Games, starting with spectator information.
Top Travel & Safety Tips for the Olympics
Local British businesses are advising employees to work from home during the crush periods if possible. But if you have to be in London during late July and early August for business, here are a few things to bear in mind - whether you join the festivities or not:
- Keep your belongings close and safe - especially your passport. Pick-pockets will likely be targeting tourists.
- Get the lowdown before you go and avoid travel hotspots.
- Plan ahead and avoid congestion as much as possible with the help of Get Ahead of the Games, the official London 2012 Olympics travel website.
- Use Transport for London's website. It has a special feature on Olympic-affected routes. Stations to avoid are Bank, Earls Court, London Bridge and the entire Central Line.
- Prepare and plan for delays and disruption by reducing non-essential travel, re-timing your travel to avoid busy periods, and revising your mode of transport. Much of London is closer than you think.
- Buy tickets for everything in advance - from tourist attractions to topping up your Oyster (travel) card.
- Make sure people know where you are - check in regularly with family and friends. And, if you are in London on business, “check-in” via the Concur mobile app so that your manager can find you in the event of an emergency or unplanned event.
- Share a common experience and bond. Get to know the locals - and the other foreign tourists like you - over a pint and maybe a shared interest in table tennis.
And if you're mobile-savvy make sure you've got a cost-effective data package so that you can make the most of online booking tools and travel advice. You can even submit your business expenses using your smartphone or tablet.
No matter where your business travel plans take you this summer, we hope you'll join us in celebrating the amazing talents and record-breaking feats found during the Olympics. Go world! About the Authors: Gina Balarin, Concur content manager, plans to share the Olympic experience with friends in front of a big screen TV somewhere near London. Eric Bausman, Concur product marketing manager and all around travel expert, is preparing to watch plenty of table tennis matches from his armchair in San Francisco.