Ross McGill

October 14, 2015|6 Minutes

Business Travel Tips – Conference Edition

1. Keep your hotel key away from your devices

Most hotels these days use credit card style room keys. They have a magnetic strip that contains the room information and allows you to open your room door. However, your phone or tablet generates a magnetic field that can corrupt that data. It’s usually a long trek back down to reception to get a new one, so put your room key in a pocket on the other side of your body, not in the same pocket where you keep your phone.

2. Keep your connections going

On business trips, I’m (obviously) at meetings most of the day. I do try to keep up with notes from meetings, but the one thing I always do? When I get back to my hotel room I (i) scan all the business cards I collected so they are in my smart devices straight away (there are several apps out there – I use CardReader) and (ii) I search on LinkedIn for everyone from whom I got a card that day. If I find them, I ask to connect. This increases your contact list at a high rate. It also shows the people you met that you are still thinking about them (good networking). Most important of all, it helps me to stay up to date going forward. It’s always difficult to keep track of people as they do move about between jobs, but one thing you know they’ll do is keep their LinkedIn profile up to date. So, I will always be up to date too.

3. Never use hotel safes in rooms

I find that the safes in hotel rooms are usually poorly designed. If anyone had something valuable stored in one, it would just as easy to steal the whole safe and break into it at leisure. I always keep valuable items to a minimum on a business trip and I always carry them with me.

4. Tip well on arrival

If you tip well when you first arrive at your hotel, word will get round the staff fast. You’ll get better service that way.

5. Be a ‘Twit’

When I travel to conferences, I find it can be difficult to get real value out of presentations. The given wisdom is that most people will take in no more than 40% of what is presented. By the time you get the speaker’s PowerPoint slides after the event, you’ve forgotten the main issues they stimulated. I tweet like mad at these conferences for three reasons (i) it keeps me awake and alert – I have to really listen to extract the value in 140 chars from most speakers; (ii) it raises my social media profile and my colleagues and acquaintances value my comments and updates; (iii) once I leave the conference, I automatically have my own set of bullet point notes about what was useful and valuable. So, tweeting is not just a ‘nice to have’ – to me it’s a critical part of my business focus.

6. When in Rome

I am always rather disappointed by people’s comments about the behaviour, customs and morals of those in other countries, particularly those countries whose cultures are very different from the West. When I am going to a foreign country, I always make a short briefing note to myself to summarise the facts and the things I should or shouldn’t do. This usually includes information such as the currency used, what side of the road they drive on, tipping, electric sockets, and so on. However, it also includes cultural issues – should I shake hands with a woman in Saudi Arabia; how should I address my host. In other words – be prepared. But it’s more than being prepared, it’s more like being synchronised with your host and their country.

7. Read the local papers

I never read newspapers in the UK. Not one. I wouldn’t give them the time of day. But when I’m abroad, I always ask for an English version of the local newspaper (not the international ones). I’m looking for little snippets of information about what’s going on and what might be of interest so that I can appear both culturally in sync with my host but also, at least, understand a little about local current affairs. Business success is not all about having the best widget – it’s about people.

Image Credit: Cydcor

Ross McGill

Ross is the founder and chairman of TConsult. He has spent over 26 years working in the withholding tax landscape with companies developing tax reclaim software and operating outsource tax reclamation services.

Ross not only sees the big picture but is also incredibly detail oriented. He can make even the most complex issues simple to understand. He has authored 10 books (including two second editions) on various aspects of tax, technology, and regulation in financial services, making him one of the leading authorities in the world of tax.