First, do your research.

Knowledge is power, especially when negotiating a contract. You couldn’t possibly put a price on something you have no knowledge of. If you don’t do your homework, you might structure yourself out of a profit that you need to make the trip worth the time leaving of your regular market. Flights can be expensive

Check into arrivals and departures. Do you need to get in at 8am but the gig doesn’t start until 5pm? You might be losing out of valuable time you would normally be working at home. Researching the numbers ahead of time will provide you the context to make the best deal for your next gig.  

Choose who’s going to handle what. 

Four options for this include:

  • Giving the client all your info and a time window you can be available to fly
    • A time window is typically provided as a way to guarantee that you’re not losing a day on either side just for their convenience.
  • Choosing the airline and airports, sending preferences to the client
    • This prevents you from paying for the travel costs up front, but it can impact negotiating depending on other provisions you’d be going for in the deal.
  • Reimbursement
    • The client will receive a bill at the end. I’m not a huge fan of reimbursement personally but there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing it. The reason why I’d prefer not to is because I often feel like my spending gets scrutinized. While I highly doubt this has ever happened, I like to reduce the variables by which a client can make judgment.
  • Wrapping costs into your rate
    • This one is a bit more simple and in my experience gives you a little bit more flexibility with the math. Am I worth $200/hour in another city? Probably not but when my business expenses to work there amount to $80/hour then it sort of makes sense. 

Protect yourself

Build a clause into your contract that removes you from any responsibility should the flights not go according to plan and set up a strong cancellation policy. If you’ve ever flown with a connection, you know that airports can be tricky. Sometimes your connecting flight departs before you’ve even landed. With thousands of people scrambling gate to gate, things get shuffled around and interrupted all the time. It’s just the nature of the beast.

If you’ve done the booking on your own and find yourself in an airport with a missed connection combined with a 4 hour delay until the next flight, you might miss the gig. Imagine having to book another ticket right on the spot. The amount you could be paying might be more than you’re scheduled to earn at the gig.

Check out this cautionary tale: 

I was flying to San Francisco for an event I had booked with travel I had done on my own as my schedule at the time was quite hectic. The schedule started on Friday evening but I had a gig in my hometown Thursday night. While I would normally prefer to go out a night early, I didn’t want to cancel on a client. Plus, I’d seen you on Instagram running through airports but always making it on time so I thought, how hard can it be? Even with a connection through Detroit I would have a couple hours in the hotel to freshen up. Due to a delay on the ground in my hometown, we missed the SLC connecting flight. At first, I didn’t panic because another flight with my airline was only an hour behind the one I’d missed. 

When that flight was suddenly not an option, I realized I might miss the beginning of this event. I called the travel coordinator at the event and explained the situation. The first question she asked me was “did we book that?” no. While she was incredibly sympathetic, there wasn’t much she could do. I ended up buying another ticket with a different airline as a one way just to get me there on time. I changed on the plane and arrived 15 minutes late to find a sophomore student voicing for the intro to the event. 

Had I allowed the client to book with stipulations I put into the contract, I might still not have made it on time given the situation but I would have saved the cost of a last minute one way ticket and the embarrassment. 

Collaborate with the client.

Questions like “Is there an airport you’d prefer me to fly in to”? (when an option) will open the discussion surrounding pre-arranged transport to and from the gate. Looking back at contracts Flamingo has written and executed on, the vast majority of clients have travel to and from the airport to the hotel/venue already scheduled which saves you the added expense of an Lyft (if not worked into the deal). Often, you might prefer to get your own ride share or take public transit. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a thousand degree tour bus shuttle through Los Angeles traffic with a bunch of strangers you’ve never met. A Lyft while you FaceTime your friend back home with a stop at a taco stand might be the thing for you. Just know that you have options and the client can be your best resource.

Pro-tips for your next travel:

Join rewards programs through the year that offer miles and points back for things you’re already doing. For example, linking your Delta account to your Lyft profile will earn you miles for every trip you take even if you haven’t flown with them yet.

Maximize your earning potential by taking advantage of miles deals, redeeming points and special vacation fares through the airline. When booking for yourself often, you can collect enough rewards to cover your next vacation! Depending on the credit card, platform and hotel chain you book through you can earn points in 3 or more places.

Create a Lyft business account to earn additional rewards and when linked to Delta, airline miles! You can also earn credit for rides while using business rides which will save you substantially on trips with heavy car travel.

Check your credit card for local bonuses in your destination. Many credit cards offer additional savings with specific hotel, restaurant and business service chains.

In major metro cities try the Seated app that gives you cash back on your meal tabs when booked through the app, no credit card or other program required. It works like Yelp!

Check Google Flights for the best deal on all airlines before searching/booking directly with the airline. Often search engines provided by the airline are limited which reduces your ability to adjust cities, dates, connections etc… A quick comparison to a site like Google Flights or Kayak can save you hundreds.

Take the Foundations in Freelance course for more step by step guidance to writing and executing travel contracts.

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