Travelling solo can allow time for reflection - between emails and work calls - but bonus me-time is a prize only enjoyed when a destination is reached as quickly and seamlessly as possible. From online networking to walking business meetings, here’s how three women navigate the road.
Hotels and accommodation
Free network for women business travellers, Maiden Voyage, has a list on the website of female-friendly vetted hotels worldwide. These are checked to make sure, aside from other things, that bedroom doors all have two locks and staff know not to call out female guests’ room numbers loudly.
Founder Carolyn Pearson says, “We educate the hotel industry on female traveller safety, educate the corporates, and run safety training sessions for women.”
Emma Mulqueeny, founder of Rewired State and Young Rewired State - which hosts the world’s largest annual hack event - uses AirBnB when travelling for business. “I’ve developed good relationships with AirBnB hosts in destinations I travel to regularly. I like that messages are sent through the site, but appear on your phone like texts, so there’s no direct access between the host and person booking. It’s also easy to pull out at any point if you don’t feel totally comfortable. The hosts can also give you loads of advice on what to do in the locality.”
Urvashi Roe, once Head of Marketing at a large retail bank, has had a more mainstream experience. “Most companies I’ve worked for use chain hotels like Intercontinental they know will be 100% reliable. They usually have a driver either end, too. When I visited Johannesburg, Avis even supplied a photo of the driver who’d be picking me up.”
Each of the women has reached out to their personal networks in the past to ask whether anyone has a room spare - which can be a great way to get the homestay experience through someone trusted.
Connections in the City
“Digital has broken down so many barriers,” Emma says. “Now when I’m going overseas for a speaking event, I’ll send a tweet out to ask if there’s anyone I should meet while I’m there. I once ended up having a walking business meeting with a New York councillor at the annual Pride March as a result of a tweet.”
Maiden Voyage has ‘ambassadors’ in many cities across the globe. “Members can contact our ambassadors to ask questions like, ‘where can I eat?’ or, ‘should I use a yellow cab or an Uber,’” Carolyn says, “even things like, ‘what business etiquette is correct in this country? Should I shake hands?’”
Frequent flyer lounges
“I try and get everything for my trip organised at home, but in cases where I need to print, Business Lounges can be a saviour. I like BA’s lounges. WiFi is imperative, so thankfully most airports and airlines have it now,” says Emma.
Urvashi has a different view, “Sometimes the lounges are as busy as anywhere else. The main focus for me is WiFi and a plug socket for my laptop, so one of the great things about London City Airport is that there are plugs everywhere. I go to places like YoSushi because the WiFi is free and there tend not to be so many families there as in the cafes.”
Apps and tools
All three women use airline apps. For calling home, they use Facetime on the iPhone. Skype and Google Hangouts are also great options for video calls from desktops. “I love the app travel management company Carlson Wagonlit have, CWT to Go, which stores all your trip information,” says Urvashi.
Apps like TripIt are also widely used for itinerary storage and sharing. “I actually really like Spotify Premium when I’m away,” Emma says, “I love music and I’m linked to my kids and other half on Spotify, so I can see what they’re listening to, which means I know what mood they’re in. Sometimes I’ll see what they’re listening to and add songs to a playlist for them. Being connected like that when you’re away is amazing.”
By Sophie Collard.