Make Travelling for Business More Enjoyable
People who haven’t had the opportunity to travel for business are often envious of those who do it regularly. “You’re so lucky to be able to fly to different cities – I’d give my eye teeth to go there,” is something many frequent business travellers hear. But the fact is mostly, business travel isn’t that much fun. Getting stranded at airports, stuck in hotel rooms, and negotiating traffic in unfamiliar towns… you could be in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and hating the experience.
It’s worth giving some thought to how you can really benefit from all that time away from home while on business trips. Take the advice of Avukile Mabombo, Group Marketing Manager of Protea Hotels by Marriott and African Pride Hotels. Mabombo is a keen traveller and has learned to get as much out of his frequent business travel as possible.
“I regularly fly from the Protea Hotels head office in Cape Town to Johannesburg,” he says. “Joburg isn’t a place most people think of for leisure activities, but there’s plenty one can do there, even when on a trip for just a day or two.”
Firstly, Mabombo always checks out the live music scene – it’s a thriving part of the city’s entertainment scene, and a great way to relax after the day’s business meetings are done. He recommends venues like The Orbit, Carfax, and the Radium Beer Hall.
“As for food, most cities have at least one highly regarded restaurant, so spoil yourself by having your supper at a restaurant recommended by locals. Ask the concierge at your hotel for a recommendation when you first arrive,” Mabombo suggests. “A good concierge will have plenty of information at his fingertips about places to try out.”
When travelling internationally, a great way to experience the country is to sample local food. Find out what the locals eat, rather than just ordering another burger and chips. Again, get advice from your hotel about nearby restaurants serving traditional dishes.
Business travel is also a good opportunity to spoil a loved one. If your hotel reservation is charged per room, not per person, your partner or spouse can stay for free. If you’re in a city that’s safe and offers good transport, your partner can easily spend the day on their own. Mabombo has done this often, and has even included a weekend stay after the business trip so that he and his partner could share a weekend away together.
While taking a partner along on a trip could be costly because of international flights, if you are a member of an airline or hotel loyalty programme, you can use loyalty points to cover the costs. With Marriott Rewards, for instance, you can accumulate points for business travel stays in Protea Hotels by Marriott in South Africa, in other African countries, or in any of the other Marriott brands around the world. If you choose to earn air miles, use those rewards to pay for your partner’s flights.
Loyalty points can also be used to fund your accommodation if you spend a weekend in the city following your business trip, or if you want to explore more places in the country you’re visiting.
Getting a feel for another country can be as simple as talking to a stranger in the street or chatting to a waitress in a restaurant. Mabombo recalls how much he learnt about attitudes about Brexit when he visited the United Kingdom: “It was absolutely fascinating to hear the different views expressed by some local people, and then to understand their fears – all this from chatting to hotel and restaurant staff I met while I was there.”
Research what you can do in the evenings in the city after your work day is over. It may be something simple like taking a taxi to a good spot for viewing the city, or visiting a popular night market.
With a bit of thought and planning, you can certainly make sure that you get a whole lot more out of your business trip then just meetings.