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Business Traveler Interview: Kent Lewis

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 Kent Lewis, the founder and President of Anvil Media and Formic Media, two search engine and social media marketing agencies based in Portland, OR. Kent is on Twitter as @kentjlewis.

What do you do?
As President, my role focuses on driving sales and marketing for both companies. Anvil provides search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) management and social media marketing strategic planning, training and consulting to Fortune 2000 companies like Borders Books, Comcast and Real Networks. Formic Media provides a similar service set, in addition to website development, for small and emerging companies.

What kind of travel do you get to do for work? Do you get to choose where you go?
Since I head up sales and marketing efforts, I travel primarily for speaking engagements, but also for new business pitches. I am somewhat selective with regards to when and where I travel, particularly for speaking engagements. I’ve had paid speaking engagements around the world, including Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, and greatly enjoy meeting and educating professionals. While new business meetings are a requirement, I do have the option of sending members of my team.

How often do you get to travel for work?
I typically travel twice a month on average, but the past few months I’ve had 3 or 4 trips each month. Because I’ve got a family at home, I try to moderate my travel, keeping it to roughly once a month, however.

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?
I do love to travel, especially with my family. We’ve been to Europe and across the country many times with our children. Since I run my own business, I do have the flexibility to travel for business and pleasure. In fact, I often piggyback family vacations on business trips. I do know from experience that I’m not likely employable anywhere else, so I’m planning on sticking with being self-employed for the foreseeable future and am certainly glad I went the entrepreneur route.

What are some of your favorite travel tips that you’ve picked up?
My favorite travel tips include: checking in for flights online, as early as possible (usually 24 hours) to get the best seats. I also travel as light as possible, so I don’t have to check bags (which can be challenging with children). I always pack headphones (with adapter) so I can watch movies and avoid fees. I try to stay at hotels that offer breakfast, as it’s usually a good deal and convenient. When traveling with family, we prefer renting a house or condo, as you can drastically cut food costs and they are generally roomier than hotels. I try to use my credit card as much as possible, to limit my exposure in terms of theft (cash), maximize exchange rates and getting the benefit of insurance in certain cases. Lastly, I try to strike up conversations with cab drivers, as they always have good stories and are less likely to screw you over if they know you.

What advice do you have for someone who’s interested in doing what you do?
For those interested in a career in digital marketing, I would suggest taking the following steps:

1. Read (blogs, articles, magazines, books)
2. Network (secure informational interviews, attend industry events, etc.)
3. Learn (consider taking classes or workshops – like the SEM Workshop I co-instruct at Portland State University)
4. Apply (do pro bono work for non-profits, industry associations, friends, etc. to get hands-on experience)

For more information, check out the articles on this page, which is a networking group based in Portland I founded in 2000.

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