I have been traveling for business a long time. From weekly trips to the same location for months on end (Toronto, Chile, Wichita, New Jersey) to the occasional international trip for a couple of weeks (Nice, Sao Paulo) to a day trip (Montreal, Munich). Mercifully, I have rarely been involved in the one-city-per-day-on-a-given-week – which I am grateful as that is truly loaded with all sorts of travel hell. Business travel may sound glamorous but most people will tell you it is far from it. It can be grueling, frustrating, fun, life-interrupting, rewarding – and often all at the same time.
As I was flying home yesterday from my most recent business trip, I’d thought I’d break down a sample, short business trip.
Destination: The Big Apple. Can one complain? The days were beautiful if very cold.
Companions: 2 colleagues, not necessarily flying together
Purpose: Meet two companies who are partners.
Duration: The trip was to be two days worth of business meetings.
Airport of choice: LaGuardia. Pluses: It is a little closer to Manhattan, easier to get to. In addition, bad as the airport is, it is small and manageable. The flip side is that Delta flies better planes to JFK with larger business class cabins which seemingly would improve the odds of my getting my complimentary upgrades and seats that are much more comfortable in business class.
Class flown: On the way up, no complimentary upgrade: economy, exit row window. On the way back, upgraded right before boarding to bulkhead window. Bulkhead not my favorite but better than coach!
Cost: This all got decided a little over two weeks ahead of time but me being part of the traveling group was decided a little over a day ahead of the 7-day advance purchase of the ticket so the flight from Atlanta to NYC ran about $490.
Lodging: I was trying to find a hotel that had a good rate and close to at least one of the offices we were visiting and likely not too far from the places where the others were staying. None of us stayed in the same hotel but ended up within a block or two of each other. I stayed at a boutique hotel from Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Downside: no executive lounge. Upside: they gave you a breakfast voucher to the bistro that connects to the hotel which ended up being quite a good deal. And the room was not as small as I typically expect when I hear “boutique hotel.”
Friends seen: This business trip was likely to not afford me free time to see people I know including two cousins who live in NYC. However, I could not just not see anyone so I booked a flight for the night before the meetings and made sure my arrival would allow me time for dinner. So I called one of my cousins who I knew lived close by and I went to have dinner with him and his wife.
Travel hassles: Zero. Yep, you heard it. I have shared before my pet peeves about inflight experiences but none on this trip! It was a close one, though, as the morning of my arrival day, NYC had been blanketed with snow/sleet so flights that morning from Atlanta had been cancelled. The afternoon flights proceeded without issue. And one big reward: since many people stayed home, heading into Midtown from LaGuardia at 6 PM took all of 23 minutes as there was NO traffic out and about! My one concern heading into this trip was that I needed to be home early Friday night and, knowing LaGuardia and its track record on on-time departures, I was worried my Friday evening would be ruined. The flight left on time and I was home by 5:30PM -> success!
Dining experiences: My cousin and his wife took me to Stanton Social on the Lower East Side. We enjoyed a small plate dinner. The French Onion soup dumplings were awesome as were the barrio-style taquitos, the chicken and waffle, and my hot chocolate shot (dessert). The next evening, the folks we met with in the afternoon took us to a pub called Puck Fair, which ended up being about a half mile from I had eaten the night before so it turns out my dinners were centered around Houston St. Puck Fair is supposed to disappear in a few months as those buildings will be razed for new development which is a shame. The pub, which maybe has been around for a decade, is made to look ancient lending it great pub ambiance. For the second night in a row, my dinner was was small plates. This time shredded pork sandwich sliders, mini burger sliders, sausage rolls, curry French fries, cheeses, and they were all delicious. That and 4 pints of Guinness. We had a great time hearing stories and getting to know each other. Of course, hanging with my cousin and his wife was far more enjoyable but I was glad the second night wasn’t a stuffy business dinner – far from it!
Business: I had never been in NYC for business which surprises me after a long career in consulting. So it was cool to see NYC through slightly different lenses than I was used to. The business objectives of the trip were accomplished which is important since the nuisance of travel for a short visit would have felt worse had the meetings not been productive. But they were, I learned a good bit, and it is good to connect faces with names and voices. I am glad the trip took place.
On the “even better” category: Because I was upgraded on the way back, I was able to get a larger tray table which makes working on the laptop so much easier. That and my glass of wine made me very productive so all the to do’s out of the meetings were taken care of en route home so these to do’s will not pile on to my regular load of work when I return to the office on Monday. Success!
So, this trip is one for the books now (or for the blog??)!
Do you travel for business? Any stories worth sharing (as this one did not offer the usual drama of airports, loud fellow passengers, delays, etc.)??