Chances are you've cut back on your travel budget; perhaps you're flying coach, perhaps you're flying less often, or perhaps you're not flying at all. Today, British Airways announced that it is offering small business owners the chance to win a free trip anywhere in the world. Simply go to BA.com/facetoface, and write up to 500 words about why you—and a colleague, if applicable—need to travel overseas for business. Entries must be submitted by the end of July, and the winners will be announced in August.
Here's how it will work: A plane will leave JFK on September 15, LAX on October 13, and Chicago O'Hare on November 17. Each plane will be filled ONLY with the contest winners—a pretty good face-to-face networking opportunity in itself. British Airways will put up the winners for one night in a London hotel and host a networking event there. Then, you can go from London anywhere else in the world where British Airways flies.
There are, of course, plenty of tools that can help you do business while staying at home—Skype, AIM, and TokBox come to mind. But nothing replaces face to face contact for closing deals, researching potential partners, and staying in touch with employees. According to new research from the Harvard Business Review, which will be published in August, 87 percent of business travelers say they can't seal a deal without face to face meetings. Sales executives, in particular, say it's vital for shortening the sales cycle and reducing misunderstandings. And if you can travel overseas for free ... well, that's just icing on the cake.
Check out the contest, and let us know if you find any other travel deals.