Here is what you should know to guarantee all goes well when blending family and business travel.
Having the family tag along on your next business trip can be that extra bit of happiness you didn’t realize you needed. If you are always on the road or away more than you would like, than the thought of bringing the family along has more than likely crossed your mind. That thought probably stops when you think about the logistics of trying to balance family time with work meetings and the impact on maintaining productivity and professionalism. Nevertheless, if done right a 2-in-1 business and family trip can be a great relationship building experience and, not to mention, an extraordinary time for everyone.
Gone are the days where business travelers arrive for a business meeting, by checking in and checking right back out. There are now two sides to the business traveler, with an increasing number extending their plans to include family time. Hotels are realizing that serving their business clients means catering to their children as well. In fact, demand has grown so much that hotels can no longer ignore the new standard. General Manager of the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner offers his perspective:
“This isn’t just a trend, it’s a tidal wave,” said Rajesh Khubchandani, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. “So many people are saying, ‘If my flight and hotel are paid for, why not stay longer or bring along my kids and family?’ The new normal is to indulge, but to indulge sensibly.” – Washington Post
Traveling parents know all too well that there is no amount of phone calls or skype chats that would fill the empty void that comes from being miles away for a work trip. Prior to booking your family’s tickets to have them join you, do a bit of research into whether the hotel offers child-friendly services such as a pool or other activities. The goal is having firm plans in place for the kids while you fulfill your work requirements.
Guido Polito, Milan-based CEO of Baglioni Hotels, advises to not bring the family along if you know you will be constantly running around when you are with them. In other words, think about how much free time you will have. It would be unfortunate to be dragging the children along like just another suitcase. For example, if there are other co-workers bringing children along it would be a great opportunity for play dates.
Guido Polito says, “Make sure you can really split business and leisure into different times.” – Wall Street Journal
Polito describes how he blends family and business vacations from his interview with the Wall Street Journal. His first word of advice for traveling parents is to let your employer in on your plans to extend the trip to include your family. Polito suggests asking permission from your employer once the business purpose of the trip has been clearly defined. Maintaining transparency is always best, particularly in regards to extra charges such as hotel room upgrades, airline tickets, etc. Employers are clarifying travel policies to make bleisure travel easier. Travel management companies can easily book seats together but use different payment methods.
Polito says he aims to schedule his meetings in the early mornings so that the rest of the afternoon can be for family time. Knowing your itinerary in advance is also helpful. The family recently returned from a successful business + leisure trip to New York City where his wife, son and parents all enjoyed visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History.
His take on bringing family is to simply, “Plan ahead and seek out activities that will appeal to all” -Wall Street Journal
Another benefit parents should take note is how quickly your children develop important life skills such as being organized, responsible and respectful while traveling together. Creator of LiveFamilyTravel.com, Cliff Hsia says he bought his four-year old a backpack that she carries while traveling on family-business trips.
Hsia explains, “She picks the toys, crayons, coloring books and whatever she wants to put in her backpack. She packs it, carries it, and takes care of all its contents.” – Huffington Post
To capitalize on time away even more; try to allot for an extra few days (like staying over a weekend) to guarantee some real leisure time with the family.
Bringing the family along can be challenging when trying to balance work and family life, but the benefit certainly overweighs the frustration when you begin to share priceless life experiences and memories with your loved ones.