One-on-One with Rob Flynn, VP & Global Travel Publisher at Frommer’s® Travel

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  1. Traveling for Business Doesn’t Mean Pleasure has to Stay Home
    [​IMG] In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with Rob Flynn, VP & Global Travel Publisher with Frommer’s Travel, the market leader in travel guides. Rob uncovers secrets to mixing business with pleasure while traveling for work.
    Frommer’s publishes more than 300 guides, reaching 7 million travelers who rely on Frommer’s for exact prices, savvy trip-planning, sightseeing advice, dozens of detailed maps, and candid reviews of hotels and restaurants in every price range. Frommers.com is a comprehensive, opinionated travel resource featuring more than 3,500 world destinations.
    “I’ve been in travel publishing for two decades, and I still forget to take a guide with me on business trips from time to time – and I regret it on nearly every occasion!”
    – Rob Flynn, VP & Global Travel Publisher, Frommer’s Travel
    Business travelers often try to combine business with pleasure, but determining where a business expense ends, and personal expenses begin, can be challenging. Is there a general rule of thumb to follow when the difference isn’t so obvious? What is the best way for business travelers to determine if an expense should be considered “business” or “personal?” Is there a general question they should ask themselves to decide?
    The Inland Revenue Code allows deductions for expenses that are ordinary, reasonable, necessary and directly related or associated with the active conducting of business, which is a good starting point for determining if it’s business or personal. If your company has a policy on allowable travel expenses, familiarize yourself with it before you travel. My personal rule of thumb if in doubt is pay the expense myself, keep the receipt, and take it up with my manager or accountant before claiming the expense.
    What are some of the ways Frommer’s helps business travelers identify some of the obvious, and not-so-obvious, cultural highlights and memorable experiences while traveling on business?
    At Frommer’s, we do the work of identifying what’s worth your while so you can get the most value from your time in-destination, from the iconic sights to the hidden treasures. Most of our guides include curated lists and itineraries, designed for travelers with limited time or specific interests. Our small-format Day by Day guides, for example, cover just about every destination a business traveler is likely to find themselves in, from Chicago to Stockholm to Seoul, whether you have an hour or a week to fill. If you value your time, a small investment in a guidebook is just smart business.
    What are the best guidebook/ebook combinations to take along on a business/leisure trip?
    I’ve been in travel publishing for two decades, and I still forget to take a guide with me on business trips from time to time – and I regret it on nearly every occasion! There’s always something I want to know about my destination, even if it’s just finding a good breakfast joint and how much I should tip, or where I can go for a run. Today, I always download a travel guide ebook onto my smart phone or tablet before I head to the airport. It takes just a few seconds and I can use it in-flight or in the taxi whenever I need to – no Internet connection needed and no roaming charges!
    If a business traveler unexpectedly had a day of leisure while traveling on business, what steps would you recommend they take to maximize the time they have for leisure activities?
    Simple – make a plan! It’s amazing how much you can do with limited time in any city if you plan ahead. On a recent business trip to Indianapolis, I spent 35 minutes at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis on my way back to the airport. At Frommer’s, we curate itineraries around destination highlights and special interests so you don’t have to wade through vast amounts of information trying to decide what to do. Fifteen minutes with a good guidebook can make the difference between a day filled with frustrations and a day to remember.
    Do you have any helpful tips for business travelers who plan to take along spouses or family members and extend their business trip for personal leisure?
    Mixing business and family time while traveling can be challenging. I have three ‘rules’ I try to follow when I travel with my family:Try to separate business from family time. As much as possible, get your business out of the way first, so you can enjoy your leisure time without checking your email or taking calls every 5 minutes.
    Build at least one major family event into your schedule – preferably towards the end of your trip. The last thing you do together will be what you all remember when you get back home, so keep something great in reserve for the last day or two. Even better, make it a surprise.
    Slow down to do something ordinary with your kids: eat ice cream at the beach, find a playground, or swim in the hotel pool.
    What are some of the trendier business travel destinations and what tips can you share with ExpertFlyer readers about making the most of the trip?
    Business travel is becoming much more regionalized and local, and it’s not unusual to do business well off the beaten path. I don’t know about ‘trendy’, but Beijing and Shanghai in China; Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in India; and Dubai, of course, in the Middle East, have all come of age as international business destinations. If business takes you somewhere exotic, there are a few tips to help maximize your down time enjoyment:
    • Don’t try to do everything. Better to have one or two memorable experiences than cram a week’s sightseeing into a half-day.
    • Pack a camera – even a smart phone camera – and capture anything that strikes you as interesting, bizarre or wonderful.
    • It may be touristy, but open-top bus tours can be a great way to see a city if you only have a couple of hours to spare. Or grab a taxi and ask the driver to take you on an improvised tour.
    • Take something home – not a gewgaw, but something you’ll use. Hint: check out a local supermarket.
    • Put aside your fears of embarrassment and learn and use at least a few words of the local language – even enough to greet staff at the hotel and your clients, or to buy a coffee.
    With so many US companies doing business with emerging markets, like China, India and Brazil, what are some ways that US executives can maximize their business networking abroad, as well as connecting with other Americans while traveling for work?
    Building personal relationships still works best in emerging markets, so client visits, and in-market trade shows and conferences are key. Ensure you learn the appropriate business etiquette before you leave home! Fortunately, it’s much easier now to extend and enhance your in-market connections through social networks, such as LinkedIn. Personally, I don’t seek out other Western business travelers when I’m in emerging markets – I find it much more rewarding to immerse myself in the local culture as far as I can, as difficult as that may sometimes be.


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