“Oh, you’ve been to so many places,” said the business traveler’s friend. “Yes, but most of the time, it’s just a ride from the airport to the hotel to the office, back to the airport. I hardly feel like I’ve seen those cities,” replied the business traveler. “Oh, but you’ve been to so many places.”
If you’re a business traveler, that conversation probably sounds eerily familiar.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sure, there will always be those business trips that are a rushed mess, but on most trips, you have some flexibility to explore. So with that in mind, here are 12 tips to get more quality travel experiences into your business trips.
#1. Get out of the hotel and take a chauffeured ride through the city.
Whenever you have a couple hours, don’t get stuck in your hotel room in front of your laptop, call your chauffeur and ask him what is the first thing you should see in this city? An experienced chauffeur will know exactly what the answer is. If you are in Philly, make sure you take more than a couple of hours, it’s an amazing city to explore. Whether is a restaurant, a landmark, a scenic fall drive worth viewing at dusk, a park, take this chance, seat back, relax and enjoy. After this you will be more productive as ever.
#2. Ditch the business conference cocktail party early.
Go in, have a drink and then leave. So often, conferences hold cocktail parties from 6 to 9 in the evenings. The problem with this is that by the time it’s over, you’re probably too tired to go out and see the city, and well, you’re already at the hotel, so why not just call it a night? No, no, no! Head in, scope out the cocktail scene. If there’s little mingling and it’s just people who know each other standing around talking to themselves, then bolt! Grab a co-worker or even a colleague from the conference, head out, take you chauffeured ride and go, instead of stuffing yourselves on the hors d’oeuvres, research a good restaurant or an evening performance and then go. You’ll be at the conference by 7:30 the next morning anyway for the continental breakfast.
If you are in Philly and you’re interested in an exhibition check out these Must-See Exhibitions in Philadelphia for Fall 2016.
#3. Avoid the business-travel steakhouses.
Ask your chauffeur about a local, must-eat-here restaurant. You will find out that Philadelphia has some amazing and underrated restaurants and that the city is also incredibly multicultural, there’s no shortage of good food from cuisines around the globe, there are 23 different cuisines in Philly. If you want to find out more here’s great guide for The best Philly restaurant for every cuisine. And this brings us to another tip about eating out.
#4. Eat where the locals eat.
Always find out where the locals go. Experiencing a city’s cuisine is paramount. Skip the national-chain restaurants and your co-workers and clients might be impressed by your creativity and drive to try something new. If your clients are locals, they will love recommending you a place that they enjoy, and all of you will be more comfortable because of it.
#5. Choose your hotel location wisely.
If you’re staying near the airport because that’s where you have to fly out the next morning, then, yes, you’ll get those extra 30 minutes of sleep, but what you’ll tradeoff is seeing a new side of the town. Pick your hotel to be in a captivating area, whether that’s downtown or that trendy neighborhood that the locals love—as long as it’s within reason of your business destination. If you need a short guide check out this list of The best hotels in Philadelphia for business travelers.
#6. Do something not on the business itinerary.
Put a landmark or a museum on the list and go there. You may not have all the time you’d really prefer to experience the museum, but even if you only get through one or two of the exhibits before it’s time to go back, it’s an improvement.
#7. Create a travel hobby.
For some people, it’s running through the city. For others it’s eating the food for which the city is known. For some it’s taking their camera and playing travel photographer. Maybe it’s checking out one historic site. Maybe it’s a personal game to find the best Italian restaurant in the world. Just don’t make your hobby “Buy a trinket in some generic tourist trap shop.”
#8. Leave the hotel and have some night on the fun.
Hotels these days have some pretty good restaurants. They sometimes even have a good bar. And if you’re pressed on time, I’m not going to say you should never eat or drink there. Sometimes you have to do that. But so many times, if you want to grab a drink, get out of the hotel, because you know who you’re going to meet in the hotel bar? More business travelers just like you. Somewhere out there, maybe around the block, or a mile away is a place where they don’t charge double for a Bud Light in a no-ambiance setting 20 feet from check-in. Somewhere out there is the kind of place where they have a martini special, live lounge jazz and no cover charge. Don’t forget to take you chauffeured ride, you’re a business traveler, you don’t drink and drive.
#9. Play with your flight schedule.
Even if you have family to get back to, it’s OK once in a while to take the late flight back so that you can take in the city in the evening before it’s time the ride back home. Stay late enough to see the sunset over the city. Or catch the evening’s free concert the city hosts in its downtown park. Sneak in a walking tour at dusk, after most of the tourists have gone for the day. On the plus side, the later flights back to your home base are often less expensive, so you may still save money even if you have to expense another meal in the city.
#10. Take a friend or loved one.
You’ll be surprised how much more fun can be had and how much more willing you will be to explore if you have a travel partner. It’s way easier to motivate to try the locals-only restaurant or visit the landmark if you have a travel buddy. They can pay their own way, and since you already have the hotel room paid for, some of their cost is already covered.
#11. Book an extra day or a weekend whenever you can.
Don’t fly back on Friday night if you don’t have to. If you could get a weekend in that city without having to pay for the airfare, so that you just pay your hotel and food bills, would you do it? Most businesses will offer flexibility to their corporate travelers such that if you can show that the airfare on a different day is the same as or less than the cost of a business-only trip, they’ll still cover it.
#12. Visit your old friends.
Sure, you see updates from them on Facebook—how they’re growing up, or how their kids are growing up. So, if you’re anywhere near their town, go visit them. Set up dinner with them, and get back into their lives. There were reasons you were great friends once. Get reacquainted with those reasons, and find yourself telling their spouse about that one time in college when.
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Also published on Medium.Tags: corporate transportation