On the Road: Lessons from my First European Business Trip
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 9:00 AM
As I prepare for my latest business trip to Europe, I can’t help but reflect on the first trip I took there for BSM Consulting in 2013. At the time, I had never visited London and was filled with excitement to see a new city, but also apprehension, as I prepared to represent BSM in front of a client. Luckily, I had two of my trusted colleagues there to support and prepare me, including executive consultant Derek Preece, whom I work with in our Orem, Utah office.
Eager at the prospect of seeing the historic sites around London, one of my colleagues offered to be my tour guide and travel with me a couple of days in advance of the work meeting. We couldn’t wait to visit Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the London Bridge, so we agreed to meet on the East Coast and travel together.
My departure day finally arrived, but my excitement quickly diminished when my connecting flight was delayed three hours due to a large storm system on the East Coast. When my flight finally touched down in NYC, I had only 30 minutes to traverse the length of the airport to catch my flight to London. Needless to say, I didn’t make it! To make matters worse, my luggage was “somewhere” in the continental U.S., but the airline couldn’t pinpoint an exact location. Exhausted, I stayed the night and boarded a plane the following day.
After a bumpy flight across the Atlantic, I finally landed at Heathrow Airport early in the morning — or so I thought. Upon touchdown, the pilot aborted the landing, and the plane rocketed back into the air! The flight attendant sitting directly in front of me looked quite anxious, but when I expressed concern, he (unconvincingly) assured me everything was fine. When the plane finally landed, at which point I already had tears streaming down my cheeks from fear, the flight attendant hugged me and apologized for the scary experience. While I’ll never know the actual reason for the aborted landing, to this day, it is the single most terrifying experience I’ve had flying.
"I now know how important it is to take travel snafus in stride, anticipate — and even welcome — challenges, and enjoy the ride." — Chandra Adams
I wasted no time after landing in London to begin the much-anticipated sightseeing adventure. Despite the constant drizzle of rain, my colleague and I made a frenzied dash through the city, hitting the major sites in this incredibly beautiful country, rich in culture and history. I learned a few (important) things on our tour such as cheap umbrellas don’t hold up in the UK weather, you shouldn’t shop alone (don’t ask), The Queen’s horses bite, and the food isn’t all that bad!
After the quick two-day sightseeing tour, it was time to focus on the purpose of the trip — providing business consulting services training to our client. As I stepped inside the (Allergan) corporate offices and into a room of unfamiliar faces, a wave of anxiety overcame me as I thought about what had brought me to this point in my career. To say I was a bit nervous would have been a major understatement. However, my desire to be an effective representative for BSM Consulting helped refocus my thoughts and calm my fears.
The group in attendance came from various European nations, including Italy, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK. I quickly realized that communicating with those whose first language isn’t English is a bit tricky and that important parts of a conversation can get lost in translation! Despite that, the meeting went off without a hitch … and I took away a new respect for the nuances of language.
Another thing I learned is that, while it is exciting to travel to new places and meet new people, it can be far from glamorous. Among preparation, travel, and a rigorous schedule, being a road warrior isn’t for the faint-hearted. Looking back at my first business travel experience, I feel much more prepared and confident as I’m about to embark on my latest European business trip. Using what I learned from my first journey, I now know how important it is to take travel snafus in stride, anticipate — and even welcome — challenges, and enjoy the ride.
YOUR TURN: What important lessons have you learned when traveling for business? Please leave your response in the comment section below. Thank you.