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Road Warriors' Bloopers Revealed

Survey finds that even veteran business executives spill food and mispronounce clients' names.

Made a blunder on the road recently? You're in good company: According to a recent survey, even the most experienced execs can't avoid the occasional mishap.

Beverly Hills, Calif.-based hotel chain Embassy Suites surveyed 500 workers who'd made at least one business trip in the last year and found respondents were far from perfect.

More than one third, 33 percent, have spilled food or drinks on themselves on the way to meet a client. Almost a quarter, 24 percent, have mispronounced or used the wrong name for a client. Most apologize profusely, but 3 percent ran away in embarrassment. A few, 16 percent, have blanked completely during a presentation, but almost half (45 percent) simply made fun of themselves and moved on.

"A lot of the answers were kind of validating—as we wrote the survey, we were all coming up with our own examples," said John Lee, Embassy's VP of brand, marketing, and communications. Lee recalls showing up at a supposedly business-casual meeting to find everyone but himself wearing ties.

The survey also collected advice from veteran travelers, who recommend carrying extra cash for cabs (68 percent), setting two alarms the morning of an important meeting (41 percent), and packing an extra outfit in case of spills (58 percent).

"The biggest surprise to me was how, as generations come and go, the common problems remain the same," he said. "That is really refreshing."

Last updated: Jun 30, 2009

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