Business Travel Tips
By Anne Loescher
Business travel is a fact of life for many of us in the cable telecommunications industry. Whether you’re constantly on the road, or only travel occasionally, you could probably use some tips to make these trips easier. Between WICT events and travel for my job at Bounce TV, I usually find myself traveling several times a year. I’ve learned some handy tricks along the way, but to get some really good advice for this article, I knew I needed to call in some reinforcements!
One of the best things about being a member of WICT is that it gives you access to a network of awesome women who are willing to share their wisdom. To get some help with this blog post, I turned to Becky Windle, Senior Director of Media Fulfillment Operations at Cox Media, and a former WICT Southeast Board member. In a previous role, Becky traveled 45 (!) weeks per year all over the United States and Canada, as well as India, El Salvador, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Hungary, Scotland, and the Netherlands. Kathy Hatala, SVP of National Accounts at Speakeasy and our chapter’s Director of Outreach, was also kind enough to share some great advice.
Preparing for Your Trip
A “bright” idea: One of the best purchases I’ve ever made was a suitcase covered with multi-colored polka dots. The bright colors make me happy, and there’s no chance of this one getting lost in the sea of black luggage in baggage claim!
Pack light: Becky recommends making it a game between yourself and your suitcase. “Can you plan your wardrobe around one pair of shoes? How many interchangeable jackets and slack combinations can you make?”
If the weather is going to be fairly warm, I swear by jersey dresses. They hardly take up any room in your bag, and they’re practically wrinkle-proof.
Double Up: Becky suggests that if you travel frequently, you should consider having doubles for hair and skin care products that you leave in your suitcase between trips. That includes makeup and hair styling brushes. Then you’ll be amazed how efficient you are when all you need to pack to get ready for your trip are your clothes.
Make a list: Another great tip from Becky is to make a list of the things you are most likely to forget. She says, “For me it’s a belt. I also have a cell phone charger on my list. Before you zip up the suitcase double check on those ‘most likely to forget’ items.”
While You’re There
Think safe: Becky stresses that you should be aware of your surroundings and who is around you – especially as you walk up to your hotel room door. “If you run in the morning, be sure to ask the concierge for advice on where to go – they know the areas that may look safe but have a bad reputation.” Kathy says, “When you check into the hotel room, take time to know the exits on your floor in case there is an emergency. You don’t want to be caught not knowing which way to turn or where to go.”
Communicate with those back home: Becky says, “Always leave a copy of your itinerary with your significant other. If you make any changes to your itinerary text your significant other to let them know. If there is ever a travel disaster in the news when you are away from home, you will save your loved ones hours of anxiety if they know you were on a different plane. (Trust me on this one. My mother is still reminding me of what I put her through when she didn’t know I was safe – and this event was in 2003!)”
Getting around: Becky’s motto is Be Prepared! She advises, “Know where you are going before you leave. That means that you know where your hotel is – on which street at which corner. If you are walking from the hotel to the meeting know your route before you set out. The same if you are driving – check the route on a map before you leave even if you are using turn-by-turn GPS.”
Build relationships: If you’re traveling with your boss or a colleague, this can be a great time to strengthen your relationship. Even though you’re probably tired after a long flight or a day full of meetings, it can really pay off to take the time to talk and be friendly. True story – early in my career, I was assigned to share a hotel room with the head of another department at the TV station where I was working at the time. I met her briefly a couple of times, but this was the first time we really had a chance to talk. This ended up being a great networking opportunity. She went on to hire me to work on her team when a position opened up a couple of years later, and she’s remained a great mentor to this day. This wouldn’t have happened if I had kept to myself instead of striking up a conversation!
After You Get Back
Keep in touch: On my first day back in the office after a conference or business trip, I like to use my lunch break to connect on LinkedIn with the people I met while traveling. That way, my new contacts are more likely to remember me when I send them an invitation. Also, don’t forget to personalize your invitation; for example, “It was great to meet you at the WICT Leadership Conference.
WICT members, we’d love to hear from you! If you have any travel tips to share, please tell us in the comments.
Anne Loescher is Director, Standards and Practices at Bounce TV, and Vice President of WICT Southeast.