It was good to be squinting. The rising August sun beamed off Lake Minnewashta, fragmenting into millions of diamonds around my paddle as a gentle breeze offset the rising temperature. It’s a business trip, and I’m on a paddleboard. Sweet, right?
Experiencing a place like a local resident is a desire for many travelers these days. Lately, it’s increasingly a key ingredient for business trips as well. Just look at airbnb’s business travel tagline: “Travel for work, feel at home.”
On a recent trip to a Minneapolis conference, I rode this trend like Paul Bunyan on Babe the Blue Ox. Here’s how I rolled (in an intentionally non-numeric list, because the world has reached listicle peak):
No Hotels for Homies. Like most business travelers, I usually stay at hotels. But for this trip I pulled an “airbnBRO”, staying at my brother’s house about 25 minutes southwest of the Minneapple. No big deal, right? We’ve all stayed with family. But the traditional conference strategy is to stay close to the event so you can gorge on the precious face time (the real, in person kind) that paradoxically eludes us in today’s hyper-connected world. A growing number of business travelers however, want to a more feel at home. Nowadays it’s not rare for a team of colleagues to rent a house for a business trip. Staying at an airbnb – or a bed in my brother’s pinball arcade basement – is increasingly a viable business stay option for those who want to feel at home. Feel me, Homie?
Early bird get that worm. This isn’t a new trend but if The Wire’s Marlo Stansfield says it, you better listen up. Conferences often beget late-night benders, but keeping a disciplined at home routine is key to bringing your A game on the road. This means carving out time by getting up early to meditate, plan the day, hang upside down – whatever gets you going. If you’re not a morning person (or binged the night before) it may be tough. But you’ll feel better afterwards, and will have the rest of your day to maximize your chances for serendipitous meetings like Zappos Founder Tony Hsieh does.
Work Work Work Work Work (out). Keeping a home routine on the road often means exercising, even if only to help clear your mind. As an entrepreneur my mornings are often chock full of ideas that gestate overnight. Multiply that by 10x on a business trip. I was lucky to be staying where I could get out on the lake by paddleboard or canoe for 20 minutes each morning. It set the tone for the day and let me reflect on a previous day’s meeting that sparked a new go-to-market strategy. No lake, you say? Poor soul. Try this 15 minute high intensity routine in your room. Any time, any place.
Get some culture. Wherever you go, there’s a local culture to explore. For me, it was the Minneapolis music scene. For those who aren’t fans of Prince (BTW what’s wrong with you?) Minneapolis is where he got his start. The week Prince died, my brother planned to go to one of his many public, come-as-you-are house parties at his home/studio complex in Chanhassen. I missed out on those but made the pilgrimage to share in the outpouring of love and support shown by the mass of mementos placed in tribute to the Purple One. It had special significance for me as a fan but also as a former DJ on the station credited with “breaking” Prince, KMOJ-FM (shout out to Q-Bear, Chazz and the crew). For more culture in Minneapolis, try the Walker Art Center, and if the elevator tries to bring you down…go concert crazy at legendary First Ave, where Prince filmed Purple Rain’s concert scenes.
Eat Local Fare. This is definitely one area where you’ll need to be flexible about breaking from routine. At home I usually don’t consume much dairy, and have recently explored gluten-free options (even though I’m not celiac – another trend). Traveling to the milk and grain midwest heartlands forced me to suck it up and eat local fare: bring on the deep-fried salty cheese curds and local walleye fish tacos from Lake Minnetonka!
Take Care of Business. Oh yeah, that. The main reason for my trip. No trend here – your bottom line should always remain first. Even though I stayed outside of the city and it required more effort, my “feel at home on business travel” approach yielded insightful meetings, creative inspiration and a chance to dip my toes in the local culture. Plus quality time with my brother and his family. A win on all fronts! #StayTTuned