Make Trav­el­ling for Busi­ness More En­joy­able

SLOW Magazine - - Must Go -

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.

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