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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Savvy Business Travel Tips (Eaton Chelsea Hotel)

I have been getting a lot of requests from my business friends on LinkedIn on where is a good place to stay in downtown Toronto for business or pleasure. My recommendation is the Eaton Chelsea. They have a great room selection from your usual hotel room to a family fun suite which includes DVD and XBox and kids jungle gym and a kitchenette, to larger suites and also rooms with a kitchenette (perfect for those long business stays). You don't find this at most of the other hotels. It is a few blocks away from the Eaton center, close to the subway and a 15 min walk to the financial district. This is a way better time than staying at the airport strip hotels that are an expensive cab ride in and out. Of course the free Wi-Fi, adult only fitness center and a adult only heated pool doesn't hurt. For families they have a crazy 130 foot corkscrew water slide and even a Teen Club Room with video games, pool table and arcade. Repeat stays can earn you access top the club lounge so sign up for their loyalty program and enjoy the 6pm checkout time.

1) After you taken care of business, schedule some downtime to experience the destination on the other side of your hotel room door. This can be several hours or it can be a whole day. Clever flight planning can free up some time to explore and learn about the city your staying in. I always will seek out what local museums, farmers market, cultural centers or unique shopping districts are nearby. Winnipeg has a great train museum, Edmonton has a wonderful plane museum, Calgary is a stone throw from Banff and its a great ride up there and back, Vancouver has Granville island and Stanley Park, Montreal has old churches and great museums, Quebec City has the military history museum and a farmers market,  Austin is well keeping it weird with the bat bridge, etc etc.

2) Skip the hotel restaurant and Subway and try something new and local. This is also a chance to explore new tastes and appreciate the local culture. I was in Saskatoon and we had a business lunch at a Mennonite restaurant and while in California we enjoyed California style pizza ( avocado pizza) and fish tacos. This food represents the influences from the local community.

3) Sign up for loyalty programs that earns you points for free stays, access to club lounges and late check out times. Air Canada rewards its members also with lounge access

4) NEXUS cards...get one and enjoy zipping through the security queues and customs on the way back. However, business travel by car across the border requires everyone in the car to have a NEXUS card so be aware of that if going through the Nexus lane

5) Travel Apps. I use Reward Wallet and Tripit are great and I have just started using Expensify. I don't bother with electronic boarding passes as its easier to just use the paper ones and I can also file it after the trip for expenses. When I travel to japan i will use iStone Travel Translator.

6) Patience and a sense of humour will also go a long way because it will be stressful, there will be delays and there will be miserable hospitality and airline staff to try to ruin your day.

Happy Travelling and don not forget to be nice to the airline hostess, they may just give you an extra packet of pretzel sticks

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