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I just read an article on the Management Today website about [url=http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/news/835652]social networking sites set up to allow business travellers to meet locals and other travellers when they're in town[/url]. I've certainly found that when I've been travelling on business (not that that happens all that often) the evenings have been a bit bare of activity. My last trip I was lucky that there was a golf course with driving range just behind the hotel so I spent a couple of evenings working on my swing (which is now slightly less awful than it was) but that's rare. Unless it's somewhere I've visited quite a lot or have local friends I'm more likely to spend the evening watching TV or reading.

What do other people do? Catch up on email? Read? Watch TV? Record the latest in their popular podcast series?

Has anyone ever used a social networking site (regular one like Facebook/MySpace/LinkedIn or specific business travellers site like Maiden-Voyage/SkyLounge/WhosInTown)? How did it work out?

Given the number of MT listeners (there are 27,000 people registered for the forums alone, I don't remember how many downloads per cast there are but I seem to recall Mike mentioning they were in the hundreds of thousands) I did wonder if it might be worth trying to connect via these forums (the meetup forum being the obvious candidate) for informal get togethers for MT devotees who happen to both be in the same area for a night or two?

Stephen

AManagerTool's picture

oooooh,

I smell a mashup! Put google maps on it too!

Sounds like a great idea.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Mashup? I've heard the term but only in a music/DJing context. Play two records at the same time.

I'll Google.

Stephen

AManagerTool's picture

There are several websites that are mashups.

Wikipedia does a better job of explaining it than I could

The Chicago PD one that superimposes crime on google maps is really cool!

kklogic's picture

I have another site I've been with for about 10 years with almost the same # of members as MT does. No matter what town I'm in, I can meet up with someone from there.

I'm peeved about these travel sites. I had a cool business idea a couple of years ago with this. My idea's still better, but UGH.

Anyway, given our #s, yeah - the mashup would rock.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Had a look around and a bit of a play on the Yahoo! and Microsoft mashup creators. Way more involved than what I was thinking of.

I was thinking more along the lines of someone just posts "Going to be in London (around Liverpool St Stn area but fine with getting the tube elsewhere) Thursday 21st August, anyone else going to be there and want to meet up for dinner sometime after 7pm." Anyone who is going to be in the area and wants to meet up with them can get in contact. I've been involved with groups (usually based around USENET groups or mailing lists) that have organised impromptu meetings and even places for people to stay through similar means.

If there's already sites set up to provide the service (and they're reasonably priced), I'm wary of creating another one.

Stephen

tlhausmann's picture

[quote="stephenbooth_uk"]
What do other people do? Catch up on email? Read? Watch TV? Record the latest in their popular podcast series?[/quote]

Back to the original thread. I read and work...in some ways working harder than when I am in the office.

When traveling to a professional conference I am renewing contacts and learning as much as I can about what is going on at other institutions.

Since I file trip reports I am also writing up my activities during the conference.

jhack's picture

Reading and working mostly.

Turning on the TV is always a mistake.

I schedule lunch and dinners with colleagues, and network as much as possible.

When travelling to new places, I try to visit one "must see" site (The Orsay in Paris, for example). Museums will often stay open late one night per week. I can't always do it, but it's a shame to visit, say, London and come home only having been in an office park. It's great to combine this with networking.

John

TomW's picture

In a couple weeks all my off time, whether traveling or at home, is going to be dedicated to MBA homework. Ugh!

AManagerTool's picture

When I was an engineer on the road, I never had time for much else besides room service, a phone call to my wife where she would cajole me to come home for at least an hour or so and finally passing out on the bed with my clothes on. 12-14 hour days + Weekends with no rest or the project would be in the toilet because it was given to me 6 months late and 20% over budget. Every damn project too. CURSE THEM!!!!

I once stayed at the Hyatt, Dorado Beach PR for 6 months on a job. This is a stunningly beautiful resort with a wonderful beach. I came back to NJ completely pale, having never had a chance to even stick my toes in the sand and having a serious aversion to tree frogs. They sing to you all night in PR..."Coookiiiee, Coookieee" I get this little twitch under my left eye when I hear tree frogs to this very day.

I want to do some of that executive traveling that I keep hearing about. The kind where you can have dinner WITH PEOPLE. The kind where you PLAY GOLF. The kind where you fly BUSINESS CLASS and not have peoples kids crawling across your lap and puking (that happened). I want to go to CONFERENCES and TALK about what the last lecture was all about then go eat at Ruth's Chris Steak house and drink a 14 yo Oban scotch.....HAHAHA

I watched Mark pack his suitcase for a trip and laughed because I remembered how travel was for me. Books, TV, Meetups? That wasn't how it was.

Sorry for the rant....It helps to talk about it once in a while.... :oops:

Someone hand me a tissue.... :cry:

lazerus's picture

Try: [url=http://www.whrrl.com]whrrl.com[/url] or [url=http://fireeagle.yahoo.net/]this from Yahoo![/url] which may not work very well but is more what you're looking for.

mtietel's picture

Tool's stories ring a bell.

Traveling to Manhattan so you can start work at 5pm Friday needing things to be back up by 7am Monday or the folks on Wall Street will be *very* unhappy. The food and companionship isn't that great in a telco central office at 3am on a Saturday...

Or going to DFW every week for a year (always tried to catch an early return flight in summer on Friday afternoons, Mark!). Though the relationships I developed with the car rental and hotel staffs paid dividends... ;-)

jhack's picture

As Mark said about work/life balance: "Go home."

Same rule applies here. If you can get the trading floor back up by 7am Monday, they won't fire you if you take a few hours at MOMA and lunch at Per Se before you head to LaGuardia. Similar logic applies if you are critical to that customer in Dorado Beach. And bring a colleague with you.

It's a choice you make.

I'm not recommending turning every trip into a vacation; many trips will be all business. Don't, however, pass up so much in life that you have more regrets than memories.

John

mdave's picture

For reference, I do not have a big travel schedule -- average is probably 4-5 weeknights a month being either one long trip or two short ones and rarely to large cities. It is a break from the responsbilities of home and I try and use the time well from a business perspective.

1) Unless a killer deadline is looming, I try to plan in advance to not eat or drink alone. I find out who else will be at my meeting (new contacts or old ones) or if I have a contact/friend who lives in the town who is not attending the meeting I see if they are available. I don't physically get around a whole lot so I try and maxmize it -- esp. if I am at a regional or national HQ. It amazes me the people that are on travel for one or two nights for a meeting with the five top people in the organization in thier specialty or with upper management and they decline a dinner invite to spend their evening in their room doing email. Sheesh!!!!

2) Read a local newspaper and scope out the town. A future opportunity may lie there. Would I want to live here? What are the schools like? What's going on (from the paper) that could be an opportunity for my firm. I don't get to too many places that would be accused of having high culture, but when I do (e.g. DC) I try and check out at least one night (see #1 one -- I usually invite someone along with me. Finding outside interests in common is a great way to build a more personal relationship -- as well as the golfers know).

If I hit it right, I often do not get past this point with my lunches and evenings. But in case I do...

3)That strategic planning time (Mon PM and Wed PM) that I never seem to be able to keep. Now is the time. I find I do some of my best thinking out of the office -- usually on very lonlely state hiways.

4) I bring those pesky trade pubs or saved articles that I sometimes struggle to get to.

It's not perfect, but works for my situation. I'd rather have my "business evening" be when I'm travelling and not when I am at home. 8)

HMac's picture

Walking the city I'm visiting.

OK - that sounds pretty lame. But a couple of hours on foot in London, Dallas, Portland (a GREAT walking city) provides a little bit of exercise and a refreshing break.

-Hugh

PS - when it's raining, I go to Plan B: riding the trains/tube/subway system. I'm a total geek for riding. Try the one in Bangkok - it's great. Very clean, very well lit.

bflynn's picture

I'm with John - I'm not sight seeing, but I do get out and experience the city I'm in. If you're travelling and you never see anything but the airport, the highway and the office building, you've wasted an opportunity to sharpen the saw.

At least go out to a local restaurant.

Brian

misstenacity's picture

My previous business trips have been a combination of good solo time and wasted networking opportunities. :oops:

I actually enjoy spending time alone, including dining out by myself, so it is a natural tendency to "hole up" when on travel since I [i]can[/i]. The solution is obviously to find another way to get my solo time outside of travel and use the networking opportunity when it is dangling right in front of me.

mdave's picture

Miss T. -- I see your point of view completely. It is not my natural tendency either. I'm a little uncomfortable checking in with some of my contacts/network just to chit-chat and a pleasant side benefit is that the following week it is really easy to follow up with a "enjoyed visiting note", question, or sharing some information on what was talked about. It makes it a little easier for me to continue the conversation.

jclishe's picture

[quote="stephenbooth_uk"]

Has anyone ever used a social networking site (regular one like Facebook/MySpace/LinkedIn or specific business travellers site like Maiden-Voyage/SkyLounge/WhosInTown)? How did it work out?

Stephen[/quote]

TripIt (www.tripit.com) *sort of* does this.

TripIt is really just a site that builds a trip itinerary for you (It has some really cool features that I won't go into here). But it allows you to network and create "friends", ala Facebook and MySpace. It will alert you if someone in your network is travelling to the same city as you.

So if you had a big enough network on TripIt you could use it to browse your friends' itineraries and see who was going to be where and when and potentially organize a meet up.

Jason

yahtzee's picture

I travel via car about once a week for one overnight. Until this past week, I would go out to dinner and gorge myself with a steak, appetizers and a few beers......

This past Monday, I decided that I was going to start playing golf in the evenings vs. gaining that extra weight. Really enjoyed it - cooler weather and was paired up with a DC attorney that claims to have saved MCI's rear end back in the day. Looks to be a great way to network.

dad2jnk's picture

I go geocaching in the city or country that I am in. It takes me to many off-beat places and get some exercise. Beats sitting in the hotel doing email or jet lagged in a different time zone (as I am now). :shock:

Ken

jclishe's picture

I'm recently getting into photography and one of the things that I'd like to start doing is photographing the area that I'm in. I usually stay in downtown areas that have a lot of photography potential. In fact I'm in Winnipeg now.

The only problem with that, of course, is the camera. I have a small point and shoot camera that I've always carried in my laptop bag but obviously the quality is not the greatest. And the bag that I carry my good camera and all of its gear in is quite large and I haven't figured out a good way to travel with it.

Jason

asteriskrntt1's picture

Jason

I am originally from Winnipeg. You need to go to the Forks, Assinboine Zoo, the Exchange district (all the turn of the century architecture) and see the Goldeyes play at Canwest Global Stadium.

Enjoy, say hi to my parents :wink:

*RNTT

jclishe's picture

Thanks for the info! I actually walk through the Exchange district everyday. I'm staying at The Fairmont and working at the Microsoft office on Market St. I'll have plenty of time to sight-see, as I'll be working here for a couple months.

I've been quite enjoying Earls as well :)

asteriskrntt1's picture

We went to Earl's quite a bit when I was doing my MBA... there is also one closer to the university of Manitoba. Whenever I go back for a visit, we always meet up at Earl's.

Please email me and let me know what you are doing there. I might be able to introduce you to some people.

[email protected]

davidleeheyman's picture

Growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, I never dreamed I'd actually travel to the far away places I dreamed about as I pored over atlas after atlas.

Today I travel upwards of 60% of my time in Asia. I live in Israel and work in sales for a software company. The shortest flight into my territory is 7 hours from TLV to Mumbai. A few times a year I travel as far as Australia and Japan as well.

Most of the time I don't see much besides airports, hotels, office space and maybe a mall. The office space looks very similar in all destinations. I'm always reading the local papers in order to understand more about the place I am, find talking points for meetings and look for opportunities for our solution in the local market. I try to get on the treadmill but find that this is a real struggle battle for my willpower. Recently one of our VPs has put me on to watching DVDs of TV shows while traveling. Watching a few episodes of Dexter during a 4 hour connection at 2AM in Kolkatta was a great way to have the time pass quickly. But in different locations I find myself doing very different things with my spare time.

In India I typically try to spend time networking with local partners and colleagues. As they travel domestically quite a lot it is fairly easy to get them out for a drink or meal when you are not in their home city. Recently I was fortunate enough to happen to read that a close business partner was in Delhi at the same time because he'd updated his Plaxo status to reflect his travel to India. During a 30 minute drink late at night we exchanged some interesting developments that I was able to act on the very next day! But other than these meals I stick to the work at hand. For instance I recently completed my 28th trip to India in the past 3.5 years. Because I used the trip as the starting destination of my vacation my wife joined me for the last week of a 3 weeks trip. For the first time I went sightseeing and saw the Taj Mahal, Amber Fort in Jaipur, etc.

When down in Australia I try to look for local concerts and happenings. I've been fortunate enough to catch some of the Melbourne Comedy Festival twice in the past few years. This year I also went to see the [url=http://www.acmi.net.au/game_on.aspx]Game On[/url] history of video games exhibit at Melbourne's [url=http://www.acmi.net.au]Australian Center for the Moving Image[/url]. In Sydney I like to take a walk through the [url=http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/welcome_to_bgt/royal_botanic_gardens]Royal Botanical Gardens[/url] and grab a bite of some local delicacies like a beef pie topped with mashed potatoes, mashed peas and gravy from [url=http://www.harryscafedewheels.com.au/]Harry's Cafe de Wheels[/url]. Lucky for my arteries I don't get down there more often. :)

A few years ago in Hong Kong I found myself with meetings for the day canceled. I decided to get out and do something and took a ride up to Victoria's Peak. [b]HMac[/b] if you like trains you'll love the trip up to the top of the peak at [url=http://www.thepeak.com.hk/full/en/peak_tram_technical.php]27 degrees to the horizontal[/url]. Up top I took a 3km walk around the Morning Path. The photos from up there are amazing and I also travel only with a point and shoot.

Colleagues in Tokyo tend to plan dead time for visitors to go out and see some sites. Work is very intensive while in Japan and then suddenly they'll say, "We're done, you should go to see this temple or that site". Earlier this year I caught a baseball game in the [url=http://www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/e/dome/]Tokyo Dome[/url]. Great experience!

Bangkok is the where I find myself doing the most window shopping. There are great malls, the skytrain makes it easy to get around and the food from the street stalls is delicious! I am always on the lookout for music concerts coinciding with my visits to Bangkok. Recently I was able to see the Queen-based musical "We Will Rock You" which was very enjoyable.

In many of these locations I meet up with others that I have met on [url=www.flyertalk.com]FlyerTalk.com[/url]. In some cities like Tokyo there are semi-regular gatherings and sometimes there are gatherings that come together as a few people realize they'll be in the same city at the same time. In India I recently met a great mix of expats and locals through a gathering of people from the [url=www.indiamike.com]IndiaMike forum[/url]. I'm certain that eventually some of these will turn into business networking opportunities and if not I'm meeting some great people around the world. That said, I'm still spending over 60% of my travel evenings in the hotel working until late.

HMac's picture

Thanks for the tip, David. I'll put it on my HK list.

Here's one other thing I do when traveling:

I search out great roller coasters.

Admittedly, it's a seasonal thing - and I don't get to it that often. But if there's a park nearby, there's usually a reduced price for evening admission, and on a Monday or Tuesday night - it can be fabulous!

Whether a new park like Islands of Adventure in Orlando, or an old woody out on the pier at Mission Beach, it can make for a memorable few hours.

-Hugh

davidleeheyman's picture

[quote="HMac"]I search out great roller coasters.[/quote]

So do you get to [url=http://www.kennywood.com/attractions/coasters.php]Pittsburgh [/url]often?

wendii's picture

I was doing some research for something completely different and stumbled on this article on this subject in Management Today:

http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/news/835652

Wendii