This is part of a new series here at WhyGo Business Travel featuring brief interviews with people who travel for work, asking them about what they do and some of their favorite travel tips. This way, if you’re looking for a career that will require travel, you’ll get to read about people doing some of the jobs you might consider – and you’ll also learn a few great travel tips from the travel pros!
This week, we’re talking with Robyn Davis, an “event hostess” who helps companies organize their appearances at trade shows. Robyn’s company is When I Need Help.
What do you do?
I help exhibitors efficiently qualify leads, effectively explain their offerings, and fully maximize their time at conventions and trade shows – I work with exhibitors before, during, and after each event to help them improve their sales and marketing results.
What kind of travel do you get to do for work? Do you get to choose where you go?
I travel regularly on assignment to provide on-site sales and marketing support to exhibitors, often working in a different convention center each week. Also, typically, I will visit my clients in their offices for training before our first event together.
As a small business owner, I can always choose whether or not I will participate in any given event. However, I’m lucky because most convention centers are in great cities, so the location itself is rarely a hindrance to my participation. Furthermore, I create my own schedule, so I can sometimes choose to visit other places on the way as well.
Do you add any extra “fun” days on to work trips? Why or why not?
Definitely – my friends and family are located all over the country so, if I happen to be relatively close for work, I try to find a way to coordinate a visit by stretching my travel schedule to accommodate. It just makes sense to stop in when I’m already nearby instead of trying to arrange a separate non-working trip instead and, to be honest, there’s no way I’d see my friends and family nearly as often if I didn’t take advantage of these opportunities.
How often do you get to travel for work?
My travel schedule varies by season (attending as many as 4-5 events in some months and as few as 1-2 in others); on average, I am home about 10 days a month.
Did you choose your job at least in part because you love to travel? Would you make the same job choice again, knowing what you know now?
Yes and yes! I love to travel and that has always been a consideration. My path to this position was unexpected at the time but, as I reflect on my experiences, I know I am exactly where I was meant to be. This is a perfect fit for my skills, abilities, and interests.
What are some of your favorite travel tips that you’ve picked up?
I have accumulated so many…
First, I reset my watch to the time zone of my final destination when I leave (if I need the actual time to catch a flight or hop on a call, I can just look at my phone) which helps me to start thinking/feeling like I’m in the new time zone from the start and reduce jet lag.
Next, regardless of where I go, I block out time to experience something unique to the city or new for me (a walking tour can be a fun way to check out the sites and get a little exercise in); even if it’s just 10 minutes in the morning to see the sunrise over a different skyline, this helps me to appreciate the travel itself.
Finally, I’d recommend joining the loyalty programs for all of the hotels, airlines, rental cars, etc. that you use (even if you don’t think you’ll use them often) because most chains provide perks to their members like upgrades, free gifts, and special pricing. In my experience, you will be treated better as a member of the organization’s loyalty program than if you weren’t one.
What one travel tip would you, as a business traveler, pass along to someone who doesn’t travel as often?
My recommendation would be to organize yourself as much as possible before you leave so that you can enjoy yourself while you’re away.
Gather all of your maps, confirmation information, schedules/meeting notes, and other items for your entire trip. Then, assemble them in a logical order, selecting a method that will work best for you (for example, some people prefer a color coded binder while others do better with electronic folders).
Personally, when I travel to multiple locations, I bring my laptop bag (with a master list of notes, toiletries, chargers, etc) everywhere and then I pack separate bags with the specific items necessary for each location I will visit. This system ensures that everything I need at any given time will be readily available, but prevents me from worrying about carrying an overstuffed suitcase all over the place or losing anything early on that I may need later in the trip.
What advice do you have for someone who’s interested in doing what you do?
Great question. Although I haven’t met anyone else who does exactly what I do quite how I do it, a good alternative (or starting point) would be to get connected with agencies who specialize in promotions and do your best work. If you are already working with a company you enjoy in another capacity, you may be able to participate in a few of their trade shows by expressing your interest to the sales/marketing executives. Your level of enthusiasm can make a world of difference in your company’s success while exhibiting so, if this is something you’re interested in, just go for it… your company and prospective clients will thank you later!
>> Learn more about Robyn on her site, When I Need Help.
>> Learn more about travel jobs