The concept of work-live balance also applies to business travel
My wife, Julia, discusses with me my latest project Frimeso and the new Podcast Series TripTrap. I am just briefly summarising the first part where we talk about myself and Frimeso. The second part deals with my take on Business Trips.
Me, Frimeso, TripTrap
About me: My wife and I have lived in several foreign countries until we finally settled in the “Greater Region,” with Luxembourg being at the center. We are familiar with issues concerning mobility and also commuting. We commuted for years from France into Luxemburg city and spent countless hours in urban railways or metros of various cities in previous years. Sales, forging client relationships, and working in international corporations go hand in hand with traveling.
I worked for many years directly and indirectly for the digital media industry, dedicating myself to content discoverability and media technology. During my last tenure, I was fortunate enough to learn more about the fascinating world of Inflight Entertainment, Entertainment in Hotels, and -to a lesser degree- in automotive.
About Frimeso: Frimeso supports content creators in any way possible. We live in a time where anyone who creates content professionally is automatically turning into an independent entrepreneur. He or she will have to deal with all sorts of things that prevent him/her from his/her actual work. We do so by focusing on particular target groups, as we strive to create synergy effects for our customers. Knowing the specific communities our customers are engaged in helps us achieve great things with our customers.
About Trip Trap: This podcast addresses business travellers, commuters, genuinely interested people, and professionals that deal with the travel industry in their daily lives. Every fortnight, we will be talking to diverse people who will be sharing their insights on the business travel industry. Listening to your podcast shall be entertaining and informative at the same time.
How to define “Business Travellers”?
Christian: There are various ways of defining “Business travelers.” For me, these are people who are away on business, regardless of whether for some hours or some days. It also does not matter whether you travel nationally or you go overseas.
I have observed, however, a difference between younger and more seasoned travelers. I am not referring so much to the actual age but each traveler’s domestic situation. Young people often have not yet started their families. They love to travel frequently and regularly. Older travelers sometimes prefer to stay home taking care of their children. That is not to say that they do not like to travel. But the initial enthusiasm often yields to the reality of every day’s life.
A business trip must be rewarding: Good Planning is essential!
Julia (from now on, Frimeso): What does the perfect business trip look like for you?
Christian: A trip must be rewarding. A good outcome is not always synonymous with economic success alone. But I should feel that something good has come around during a trip, even if just on a personal level, for example, when you realize that you have been able to establish a meaningful and lasting relationship with a customer. Such trips should not span over the weekend, which happened often enough in my professional life. I do not want to complain, though. There are many professions where people work on the weekend.
Frimeso: What does a traveler have to consider in everyday traveling life?
Christian: Actually, there is a lot to consider when planning your trip.
If you have a family, somebody will have to take care of your kids. We do, fortunately, live in times where the significant others live independent lives from each other. However, you will have to discuss planned travel schedules with your family. Generally, I am always asking myself whether I will be spending enough time with my children during travel weeks. Spending enough quality time with the family should matter to my children and me because I want to see them growing up. Hence, when organizing any trips, I always try to get my priorities right: Family First!
You will also have to decide on the right means of transportation. Should you go by car or train or should you fly? Often enough, choices are limited as they depend on your travel destination and any available connections.
The art of efficiently organizing your meetings may be another challenge: A common pitfall is to underestimate distances between meetings’ locations. If you have an appointment in North London, for instance, and you scheduled your next meeting somewhere in the south of the city, you will have to factor in enough time for your transport. I have often misjudged distances, which naturally causes additional pressure.
Networking: I am personally not a big fan of enormous functions, especially in the evenings. They are undoubtedly necessary to attend. But I always found it more useful to socialize in smaller groups.
Booking the trip or (getting it done by your travel manager) is also an important issue.
If you are going overseas, you should be knowledgeable about the business culture you immerse into. It is great to master a foreign language. But being fluent in German, English, or French is not enough. You also have to know how things work in other countries. Being knowledgeable about other cultures also applies to national business trips since every organization maintains its own corporate culture. Learn about your customers first! It already happened to me that, in one round, I was the only one in a costume and vice versa, where I was the only one in jeans.
Since we live in an era of climate change, one should also evaluate whether every trip is necessary.
Carefree traveling produces business success
Frimeso: You were always mentioning that the most important thing for you is your composure while traveling. How can you achieve being relaxed on a business trip?
Christian: First, I was trying to avoid at any cost to leave the house early at 5.00 am. I learned the hard way that being sleep deprived while traveling would make it difficult for me to stay focused during a long day of meetings. As already mentioned, being relaxed also depends on whether you have calculated the transportation time between meeting locations. It is also helpful to come prepared for your meetings. Finally, If there is an urgent matter on your office desk that needs your attention, you will most likely take it along on your trip, which jeopardizes your next trip’s successful outcome.
Frimeso: Your goal not to leave home at 5.00 am did not work out well for you! Why not?
Christian: It often is inevitable considering that the host organizes many meetings. One has to go along with that.
Frimeso: How important is a good hotel?
Christian: I am not very demanding with regards to the hotel category. Since I am not always traveling by car, the actual location of the hotel is critical. A hotel must be clean, obviously. Friendly staff and a TV in my room are crucial too. Business travellers are critical to hotels in general. Many larger hotel chains have particular dealings with companies or commercial travel portals. It helps if you feel comfortable and looked after.
Frimeso: You were not always relaxed while traveling, mostly when you were about to board an aircraft. How come?
Christian: To be honest, I am generally anxious before boarding. I do not appreciate the feeling when taking off. It is not as bad as it sounds, though. I am through with it as soon as we are hitting the ground. I even have similar anxiety while being on a TGV, depending on the train’s actual speed. I bet that travel anxiety concerns many more frequent travelers than one would assume. Do you not believe me? Just look around in your cabin next time you are landing. I do not have a degree in psychology. Still, we are most of the time not talking about a classical form of anxiety concerning frequent travelers, but rather about a way of “sensitivity.” I have learned to control it and can work calmly, even during a flight. At the apex of the terrorist attacks some years ago, I remember a constant uneasiness in crowded public places like train stations or on trade shows. I remember unconsciously screening situations and other people’s behavior, which was irrational. I did not talk about these issues to anyone in my company. It did not bother me all too much. Furthermore, it seemed silly considering that everyone else was continually traveling also, many even more than I.
Frimeso: What else do you do to relax?
Christian: I think it is essential to organize yourself a bit of free time on a trip, especially if you are away for multiple days. When you happen to be in a city where you have some old friends living, meet them in the evening. It is nice to be able to meet someone outside of the context of your daily work. I also like to go out with colleagues, and I indeed enjoy an evening in my hotel room just with a cold beer and a good movie on the TV.
Something that did not work all too well was doing sport during a trip. I like running. But just for practical reasons, I most often traveled without my running shoes. I have always tried to get my bag through as cabin luggage, which results in my running shoes staying at home. I believe, however, that exercising during your trip helps you offsetting the daily pressure. It’s good to keep healthy and fit.
After all, the concept of Work-Live Balance also applies to Business Travels.
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