As you're starting or running a company, it's almost inevitable that you'll find yourself on the road doing business. This is because we have to meet with other human beings in order to move our companies forward. For any budget, here are a few ways to maximize your business travel--yes, even if you're a bigwig flexing a black American Express and globetrotting on a G5.
1. Make It Personal
I'm old school and always prefer to meet with people in person. Not only does it go a long way to show others that you genuinely care about them, but it also gives you a deeper understanding of their perspective when you literally sit in their office and see their vantage point. Well before you leave for your trip, tell clients and partners that you'll be in town. You may also want to run a quick search on LinkedIn and other social networks to see who lives in (or may have moved to) that city. Since the majority of communication is supposedly nonverbal, never miss an opportunity to grab drinks or break bread with someone when you're on the road.
2. Tap Travel Veterans & Local Experts
Before you parachute into a new city, it's helpful to learn from those with experience. From airport logistics and hotel accommodations to can't-miss restaurants and cool local attractions, you can make your trip more productive and more fun. Two of my go-to travel veterans are Neal Green and Mike Harrison, who run The Coding Network and Landmark Event Staffing Services, respectively. From Oakland to Orlando, these guys know just about every notable restaurant and watering hole in America, so I always try to pick their brains beforehand.
It's also helpful to get advice from people whose hometown (or state) you're visiting. I was fortunate to attend a boarding school (Cate) and later a university (USC) filled with people from all over the country and the world, so I seek out their guidance whether I'm visiting Nashville or even Barcelona.
3. Puddle Jump
Especially when traveling farther distances, try to accommodate other destinations nearby. For example, if you're based in Los Angeles and are visiting New York, hop over to Philadelphia or Boston. The marginal costs of adding another flight and hotel room are usually minimal versus the upside of doing more business.
4. Enjoy The Journey
A mentor of mine helped build a massive hotel company that was later absorbed into Hilton. As a result he spent decades traveling not just the country but the entire globe. He told me that in hindsight what he most relished about the experience were his many excursions across the country, seeing different places, and meeting all sorts of people. I've always kept this in mind. Building a company is difficult, and the travel can be grueling. Whether it's trying fried oysters in New Orleans or doing bourbon tasting in Louisville, it's important to integrate as much fun as possible.