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Business Traveler Interview: Jenny McIver

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 Jenny McIver. Jenny is based in Atlanta, and in addition to being a business traveler who’s constantly on the go, she’s also a veteran round-the-world traveler.

What do you do?
I own a small event management business – Worldwide Event Management – that specializes in on-site management for major conventions and corporate events. During college football season I also freelance as an Operations Producer for ESPN. In this role, I manage a crew and logistics for weekly broadcasts around the country.

What kind of travel do you get to do for work? Do you get to choose where you go?
In the winter and spring I spend a lot of time in major convention cities like Las Vegas, Chicago, New Orleans and Orlando but technically the events I manage can be anywhere. In the fall, my travel schedule is all about college football and every weekend I’m in a new college town. For the past two seasons I’ve been primarily on the west coast doing PAC10 conference games. I rarely have any say in the location of my business travel as it is purely determined by the event location. It’s an interesting contrast as my convention travel keeps me in large cities with luxury hotels but my ESPN travel often brings me to small college towns with limited hotel options.

Do you add any extra “fun” days on to work trips? Why or why not?
Yes! But it all depends on the city. When I travel to Vegas (several times a year) I like to arrive a day early to have a little time for R&R before the long hours of the event begin. My trips for conventions often involve stays of up to 2 weeks so once they’re over, I’m usually ready to head straight home.

How often do you get to travel for work?
Depends on the time of year. During football season, I fly out every Thursday morning and return home on Sundays. The rest of the year, my schedule is more flexible – home for a week, gone for two, etc. I spend well over half the year on the road.

Did you choose your job at least in part because you love to travel?
Absolutely. I have always loved to travel and the perks from my business travel provide a lot of opportunities to travel for pleasure as well.

Would you make the same job choice again, knowing what you know now?
Without a doubt. I love what I do.

What are some of your favorite travel tips that you’ve picked up?
Loyalty, loyalty, loyalty. Pick your favorite airline and hotel program (for me, Delta Airlines and Starwood Hotels) and try to stick with them as often as possible. My airline loyalty has earned me enough miles to take a business class trip around the world every January for the past 6 years – the cost of those tickets would have easily exceeded $100,000 had I paid for them. Once you gain elite status with an airline or hotel company, your travel life will become immensely more comfortable. From first class upgrades to hotel suites, be loyal to your favorite programs and they will reward you. That said, sign up for every reward program you encounter. Even if you don’t earn enough points for a free night with a particular hotel chain, many offer perks (like free wi-fi) for all members, regardless of status.

What one travel tip would you, as a business traveler, pass along to someone who doesn’t travel as often?
Carry-on. My general rule of thumb – if it doesn’t fit in my carry-on suitcase, I don’t need it. I’ve traveled for as long as 6 weeks at a time out of just a carry-on…and I’m a girl. It can be done, ladies, Just be strategic in what you pack. In 10 years of travel, I have probably saved at least a month of my life by rarely having to visit baggage claim or a check-in counter. Traveling lighter = traveling happier.

What advice do you have for someone who’s interested in doing what you do?
Having your own business is one of the most difficult and stressful ways to earn a living. Everything depends on you and you have to be prepared for lean times in the start-up years. (It took my business three years to show a profit, those were tough years.) Be persistent and don’t give up. Owning your own business is possibly the single most rewarding career choice you can make and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Find out more about Jenny by checking out her travel blog, RTW in 30 Days, and you can also follow her on Twitter @jennymciver.

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