Business travel tips to keep you on top of your game

Skype and other video conference programs have made it easier to conduct business across the miles, but nothing will ever replace the face-to-face meeting. Missed connections, lost luggage, dead cell phones, and just having to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings can all make life on the road less than fun.

exterior - new entrance
At Elm Hurst Inn & Spa, we welcome business travelers from around the world. 

While business travel may never be entirely hassle-free, we’ve compiled a few simple tips to help you stay on top of your game – wherever work takes you.

Ditch the suitcase
Any frequent flyer on a tight schedule will give you the same advice – don’t even think about checking your luggage. A good carry-on roller bag should be able to hold everything you need for at least a week away. This one tip will save you from endless time wasted at the baggage claim, or arguing with an airline over your lost piece of luggage.

Pack strategically
When you need to live out of a carry-on, it’s essential to pack clothes that are versatile and work together. Choose one neutral in a dark shade, and one accent colour. Then add a change of shoes and a few light accessories. If you travel often, create a master packing list to use over and over again.

Charge up
Make sure all your electronic devices are fully-charged before you leave home. Your laptop case can hold a portable charger and an extra charger for when you arrive, but there’s nothing worse than having your laptop die when you’re trying to get some work done on the road.

Bring healthy snacks
If you’re lucky, your hotel will have great food on site – but you never know what you’ll find on the road. Natural granola bars, protein bars, trail mix and dried fruit are all healthy choices to see you through until your next meal. And don’t forget to stay hydrated!

Watermelon Salad
Guests at Idlwyld Inn & Spa can choose from a variety of refreshing salads. 

Make the most of your travel time
Listening to audio-books and pod-casts is a lot more productive than scrolling through social media while you wait!

Blue bed
A good night’s sleep is the best cure for jet lag. 

Zap the jet lag
Adjusting to a new time zone can be tricky, and everyone reacts differently. Some people swear by sticking to their routine, while others adjust their watches as soon as they hit the airport to mentally prepare for the change.  A good night’s sleep and an extra shot of espresso can also do the trick!

At Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa, we enjoy welcoming business travelers from near and far. If you have a favourite travel strategy, please share it below!

Advertisements

3 steps to holding an eco-friendly meeting or conference

Business conferences and meetings are a great opportunity to showcase your company brand – and your commitment to sustainable practices.

modern-conference-set-up-spring-2013
Make your next meeting or conference an opportunity to showcase your company’s commitment to sustainable practices.  (Photo: The James Harris room, Elm Hurst Inn & Spa)

Hosting an eco-friendly meeting demonstrates the values of your business, and can make a lasting positive impression on your employees and customers. And that just makes good business sense.

Here are a few simple suggestions to add some green to your next meeting or conference:

Book a green venue
Reduce carbon emissions by choosing a venue that is close to home, or in a central location with easy access to public transit.

You can also encourage your team to go green by offering incentives for ride-sharing. Or, provide a shuttle service to and from your venue so people can leave their cars at home.

photo (12)
Located in the heart of London Ontario’s ‘Old South’, Idlewyld Inn & Spa is a short walk to one of Canada’s most vibrant neighbourhoods.

Look for conference venues that integrate environmentally-sustainable elements into their day-to-day operations through recycling and composting, the use of water-saving equipment and techniques, and through the use of pourers for sugar and cream and small serving dishes for butter and jams.

Eat local and drink from a glass
Choose a venue or caterer committed to cooking with local, seasonal products. Then, cut down on your food waste by taking a close look at consumption at past events. Arrange to have any leftover food donated to a local shelter or food bank, and consider providing a compost receptacle next to the traditional recycling and waste cans.

living-herbs-from-the-herbman-and-lettuce-from-verlinden-farms-of-norfolk-county
The Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa are proud to support local farmers. 

Don’t be afraid to ask your venue to provide pitchers of water instead of bottled water to help eliminate plastic waste.

Go paperless (as much as possible)
With online registration and promotional tools like Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s easy to get the word out without using paper invitations and registration forms.

Create an event website – or mobile app – instead of a printed program. This is also a great (and green) way to provide attendees with any last-minute updates.

Choose recycled paper and environmentally-friendly inks for any printed materials you just can’t do without – and don’t forget to collect lanyards for use at future events.

The corporate sales team at Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa can help you ‘green your meetings’ in style.

Dining Etiquette 101: Ten tips to surviving your next business meal

If you think people don’t care about your table manners, think again. Whether you’re dining with a potential employer, your boss, or colleagues, dining etiquette counts. How you conduct yourself before, during, and after a meal can reveal a lot about your professionalism and character.

idleDetails - key hole
Brush up on your dining etiquette before your next business meal. (Photo: Idlewyld Inn & Spa, London, Ontario)

When it comes to business dining, there can be a lot to remember. Which glass is yours? What should you drink? Who picks up the tab?

It can get complicated, especially if you travel to countries with unfamiliar customs. But if you follow these ten basic business etiquette tips you’ll be well on your way to making the right impression at your next business dinner.

Do your homework
Before you arrive, do some homework. Who will be joining you? What business are they in, and what is the company culture?

Then look up the venue. Is it a fine dining restaurant, or a casual pub?

A little bit of background research can go a long way in helping you feel confident, and in making sure you are dressed appropriately for the occasion.  When in doubt, it is always better to be overdressed than too casual.

Arrive on time
By on time, we mean try to be a few minutes early. If your host has not yet arrived, wait in the lobby. If you will be paying the bill, this is a great time to let the wait staff know and to give them your credit card.

Shake hands
Greet everyone with a handshake and a smile, and introduce yourself to anyone you don’t already know. Repeating someone’s name in conversation will help you remember it!

Keep the table clear
Do not place your handbag, briefcase, sunglasses or phone on the table. Bags can be placed under your chair, or between your back and the back of your chair. Coats should be hung on a coat hook, or over your chair back. Don’t forget to turn off your cell phone!

Idlewyld_001
Don’t clutter the table with bags, sunglasses, or cell phones. (Photo: Idlewyld Inn & Spa, London, Ontario)

Napkin in your lap / Solids to your left / Liquids to your right
Place your napkin on your lap as soon as you are seated.

Then, familiarize yourself with the place setting. If it’s more complicated than the basic fork, knife and spoon remember – the general rule is that utensils are placed in the order of their use. So start on the outside and work your way in.

Your bread is to the left, while your water, wine and coffee cups are on your right.

When in doubt, watch your host!

Drink with discretion
In general, it’s best not to drink alcohol at a business meal. Club soda with lemon is always a good option.

If you do decide to drink, moderation is key. Limit yourself to a glass of wine or one beer, and pace yourself.

Elm Hurst - wine glass
If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to a glass of wine or one beer. (Photo: Elm Hurst Inn & Spa, Ingersoll, Ontario)

Be ready to order
The host usually orders first, and it’s a good idea to follow their lead. Don’t choose the most expensive item on the menu. And don’t ask your server to explain the menu or make substitutions – unless you have a food allergy. You don’t want to come across as difficult or indecisive.

Stay away from trouble
Try to avoid foods that can be messy or difficult to eat. These include finger foods, spaghetti, tacos or hamburgers, dishes with a lot of sauce, or lobster.

Don’t just dig in
Wait for everyone at the table to get their meal before you start eating. Then, take small bites, and don’t talk with your mouth full. Cut your salad into small pieces if needed, break bread / rolls and butter each piece individually, and try to finish at the same time as the rest of your party.

To pay, or not to pay
Usually, the host pays. And while it is always polite to offer to pick up the check, don’t argue or offer to pay the tip.

Thank your host
Don’t forget to thank your host at the end of the meal. You may also want to thank them again later, with an email or handwritten note.

We’ve hosted thousands of business dinners at the Elm Hurst Inn and Idlewyld Inn, and hope these tips take the stress out of your next formal meal.

Share your business dining etiquette tips in our comments!

Ready, set, meet…3 tips for a meeting people will want to attend

We’ve all been there. The meeting that goes on and on with no concrete outcome. The meeting that gets hijacked by the most outspoken member of the team. The meeting were people pay more attention to their smart phone than the issues at hand. The meeting that leaves you asking : why am I even here?

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Here are three simple tips to make your next meeting more productive:

Know what you want to accomplish
A meeting should have a clear and well-defined objective. Are you making an announcement? Seeking input into a challenge facing the company? Or is it simply a brainstorming session?

Details - key hole
The key to any good meeting is planning….(photo: Idlewyld Inn & Spa)

Think about who you need to invite. Is the discussion relevant to them? And do they have the skills to contribute to the conversation? If the answer is no, then don’t waste their time.

Begin and end on time
There’s nothing more annoying than a meeting that starts late and then drags on and on. A written agenda can help keep everyone on track.

Remember – an hour is the longest time most people can truly remain engaged. If it’s not enough, schedule a break.

Food
Need to meet for more than an hour? Plan a lunch break! (photo: Elm Hurst Inn & Spa)

Establish some ground rules
If your colleagues typically spend more time emailing or surfing the web than focusing on the issue at hand, don’t be afraid to ban technology – or at least insist that it’s placed on the table and out of reach.

And if one person starts to monopolize the discussion, call them out. A simple : “We appreciate your comments, but we need input from everyone before making a decision” should do the trick.

What is your best tip for holding a productive meeting?

The Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa are preferred venues for meetings and multi-day conferences. Ask us how we can make your next business meeting memorable!