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Making meeting attendance more meaningful

No comments · Posted by Monica Eiden at 9:47am in Meetings & Events, Travel Tips

Monica Eiden
The save the date has arrived in your inbox - you’re heading for your next face-to-face company meeting.  While you may end up working extra to meet client deadlines and other work while you’re away, resist the urge to view meetings as a chore, and instead focus on maximizing what you put into, and therefore get out of, your next meeting. 

When you attend meetings, resist the temptation to skip breakout sessions or keynote speakers, even when work beckons.  This meeting could be one of your biggest opportunities to network with fellow employees, re-evaluate your current job satisfaction, and find out which direction your company is heading in the next 12–18 months.  

Use meetings as an opportunity to explore, examine and validate that you are in a job that keeps you challenged, motivated and excited to wake up and go to work each morning. Register for breakout sessions that either give you the opportunity to network with individuals with you don’t normally work on a regular basis, or attend sessions that give you the opportunity to learn something new about the company or yourself. Set goals for how many new relationships you want to establish, or how many tips for improving yourself personally and professionally you want to be able to take home.  This will allow you to return to the office with a renewed since of purpose for your job and how it fits into the bigger picture at your organization. 

I’ll use myself as an example.  I recently was invited to a meeting that included various breakout sessions and many opportunities to network with fellow employees and suppliers.  I knew it was time in my career to start looking for a new challenge, so I decided even before leaving for the airport that I was going to embrace this meeting as an opportunity to explore the potential to make a change and start wearing a path toward a new challenge.  At this particular meeting, I made an extra effort to introduce myself to people to whom I wouldn’t normally have a chance to speak. I took several classes on work-life balance, and re-connected with some colleagues I had not seen in more than five years.  The  ultimate outcome of this particular meeting was helping me refocus on how I manage my time at work and at home. The result has been a better balance between the two, resulting in more quality time with my family. After that, I took a similar approach to another meeting that came along, and this time made professional connections that resulted in a new role at my organization.   

I urge you to view the meetings you attend through a new lens of either personal or professional improvement. You many not see tangible results with every meeting, but be persistent and I guarentee you’ll begin to reap rewards, both professionally and personally.

Posted by Monica Eiden at 9:47am in Meetings & Events, Travel Tips

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Where does your loyalty lie?

1 comment · Posted by Monica Eiden at 4:46pm in Travel Tips

Monica Eiden
Loyalty.  Who gets it?  It’s difficult to determine—even for me, someone who works in the travel industry—which loyalty programs I should be signing up for.  From hotel to airline programs, loyalty programs all are aimed to sway our buying decisions—but which ones are really the best?

Many individual loyalty programs can pose difficulties for most travelers to earn what we all really want —a free hotel room or a free airline ticket.  Although I am not a road warrior, I have traveled to the same hotel brand fairly regularly over a three year period, and I finally just received enough points for two free nights.  For some of us less frequent travelers, building enough points on individual programs takes time.

So for me, the fastest way to reach those milestones is to find a program that allows me to earn points on every purchase I make (I earned a number of extra points during the holiday shopping season this year).  Some cards even offer products to cardholders that allow them to earn two points per dollar on gas, grocery and dining purchases.

In my case (as with many others), building points totals on credit cards doesn’t actually happen on business travel, when payment is through my company’s designated payment form.  But it certainly is nice to balance points earned from my personal spending with any reward points I might earn on flights or hotel stays for business travel to push me closer to my goal.

If your company allows you to keep reward points you earn during business travel, such as frequent flyer miles, look for programs that let you transfer points to other locations.  One example would be an airline reward program that allows you to use your points to stay in a hotel, or save up for non-travel purchases.

Posted by Monica Eiden at 4:46pm in Travel Tips

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Who’s got your back?

(2) comments · Posted by Monica Eiden at 8:09am in Business Travel, Safety & Security

Monica Eiden
I was watching a movie this weekend, an event that has happened very rarely for me over the past seven years. The movie was The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. The movie choice was difficult since I have been out-of-the-loop when it comes to cinema hits and because of the many choices provided to me at the touch of my remote control. After paging through the choices, my husband and I decided on a movie starring one of our favorite country music stars. I wasn’t excited about the football theme, but I was intrigued by the fact the movie was based on a true story.  

At one point in the movie, the football player assured Ms. Bullock that he “had her back”… he was going to “watch over her,” putting aside any uneasiness that Ms. Bullock would have had walking through a neighborhood that was far from Beverly Hills. Again and again throughout the movie, one person or another seemed to say, “I’ve got your back.”

This got me thinking…in our everyday lives, who has our back? Who is watching out for me? Who will know where I am if my flight is delayed, if I run into unexpected weather, or my hotel is affected by a natural disaster. 

Traveling on business is one of those times when you should ask yourself “who’s got my back as I travel to the Gulf Coast/Europe/Middle East/fill-in-the-blank, meeting with our most important clients?” The answer—if you book your travel according to most companies’ travel policy—your travel manager and travel management company (TMC) will have your back.

Sure, sure, I can hear some of you now… “I can find better deals myself on the Internet,” or “I’d rather stay at a hotel where I can earn loyalty points.” The fact of the matter is, your company has hired the right people and purchased the right tools to help you travel like a savvy traveler. And, when you add everything together, you and your company will come out on top when all of your travel details are taken into consideration. 

First and foremost, you are one of many travelers in your company, and deals that are negotiated by your travel department for hotels are based on travel volume. Many hours are spent analyzing data to achieve the best possible hotel rate , usually with free amenities included, like breakfast, Internet, and parking. They are also tracking the travel patterns of all traveling employees to understand the hotel needs of the entire company, and building long-term relationships with suppliers to keep the discounts flowing…for YOU! 

When you go on a business trip, it’s not only about getting a fair rate at a hotel, it is also about the traveler experience and total cost of stay. For example, your company wants to make sure you have every opportunity to feel safe. Have you stopped to think how important it is to your company that they know what city you are in and where you are staying in case of an emergency, natural disaster, etc.? Tangible examples of this are a hotel fire, civil unrest, or perhaps a hotel outbreak of the Norovirus. Should a situation like this occur, your company will want to contact you to ensure your safety, perhaps warn you of impending danger, and potentially alter your travel plans when necessary. If you’ve booked through your TMC (see Janet’s video below), perfect! Your TMC or travel manager will be in touch. If not, your safety could be at risk and your TMC’s and/or travel manager’s ability to assist you is greatly compromised or not possible. It’s also likely your organization chooses hotel partners that have stringent safety & security measures in place, things like sprinklers in all areas of the hotel, emergency exit maps, guest-room door viewports, 24-hour surveillance cameras, or 24-hour security staff. Don’t waste your valuable time searching for deals thinking you are making better choices for you or your company. A lot of factors go into a company’s hotel choice, ultimately driven by their employees’ safety and making sure the company’s money is spent in a smart way. 

The bottom line is, no one will “have your back” if you are not booking through the proper channels; no one will know you are stuck in a hurricane, or that your flight has been cancelled and you’re faced with a cancellation fee of $100 or more because you reserved your hotel room on your own. Trust your company’s decision to hire the right people to negotiate hotel rates for you, follow the rules of booking hotels through the proper channels, and you will always be able to put your head on a pillow at night and know “someone’s got my back.”

Posted by Monica Eiden at 8:09am in Business Travel, Safety & Security

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