Business trip stories:
good vs bad

Even with the best laid plans, business trips don’t always turn out as you expect. Sometimes flight delays, adverse weather, erupting volcanoes and missed meetings mean things just don’t go your way.

Other times, the stars align and kind strangers, being in the right place at the right time or serendipitous events contribute to what turns out to be a trip you’ll never forget.

Without naming any names, here are a few of the best (or should that be worst?) business trip stories we’ve heard:

Hotels aren’t always as they seem

It’s understandable that a hotel will only put photos of their best angles on their website. And so it’s not uncommon for that oh-so-beautiful view you saw online to be obscured by a tower block in reality, or that pool you were promised to actually be a few months away from completion. We even heard a tale of a hotel that failed to mention they had bullet proof glass in their lobby and regular gang fights in their car park. To top it off the traveller developed a mysterious rash after sleeping there, and the ‘continental’ breakfast turned out to be a box of doughnuts.

Planning for every eventuality

Fail to plan and plan to fail. So goes the expression, and its good advice. However with business travel, last-minute plan changes or late notice of trips mean there isn’t always enough time to plan in as much detail as you’d like. One story that stands out concerns a self-driver whose car broke down on the way to his destination, causing him to have to make an unscheduled overnight stop. Calling a taxi to take him to the nearest hotel, he was charged extortionately not only for the taxi ride but also for the hotel, which turned out to be the most expensive one in town.

On the topic of rental cars we heard the tale of one business traveller who, upon receiving the keys to his hire car, placed his laptop in the foot well, only to discover that the cleaner had left a puddle of water in the passenger seat area and his computer was now soaked.

Flight delays can be a pain

Annoyingly, flight delays are fairly common, and can cause serious disruption to your trip, as one business traveller travelling from Chicago to Dallas in a snowstorm discovered. First, he was rerouted to Indianapolis, but when his onward flight from Indianapolis to Dallas was also cancelled, he flew back to Chicago, then on to Newark, then finally, after three days of flights, to Dallas. On arrival, it was so snowy that it then it took him five hours to get from the airport to his hotel, by which time he had missed all of his meetings. Still, at least it’s a story to tell at dinner parties.

It isn’t all bad news though. Sometimes amazing things happen when you’re travelling for business:

Some people get all the luck

We recently stumbled across the uplifting tale of a woman who overslept for her flight, waking up just one hour before departure from New York’s JFK Airport. She assumed she would miss the flight, but that day, the odds were in her favour: a taxi was waiting right by the hotel when she ran outside; at check-in she found an accommodating staff member who whisked her straight through security (she had no checked baggage) and she even had time to tweet the airline on the way to tell them she was coming. She made it, out of breath, with seconds to spare.

Making the most of unexpected free time

Another NYC tale involved a woman stranded in the city overnight when she missed the last bus to Philadelphia. Feeling stressed, she walked to Times Square and got a room in the nearest decent-looking hotel before heading to the adjacent restaurant, which happened to be McDonald's, where she spent US$20 on burgers. Treating herself to some much-needed relaxation time, she spent the evening in bed eating Big Macs and watching HBO – and declared it the best night of her life!

Things aren’t always as bad as they seem

One business traveller told the story of when a typhoon in Manila not only cancelled his conference, but made it rather difficult for him to get home to Hong Kong. Arriving at the airport during a full-on power cut, after watching chunks rip off the side of the building, he assumed the chances of his flight taking off were minimal. However, in a show of resourcefulness, his ticket was written out by hand, his bags searched manually (as the security scanner was out of power), and the business lounge well stocked with candles and vodka. He did eventually fly out and, even more miraculously, his luggage, complete with hand-written tag, arrived three days later.

It happened to me

Finally, this is the story of something that happened to me. In April 2010 I was on the last day of a business trip to Windhoek, Namibia, when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in a cloud of ash that grounded flights all over the world. After being told it was unlikely I would get a flight home for at least a week and witnessing the chaos at my hotel as stranded passengers scrambled for whatever accommodation they could lay their hands on, I called my travel booker in the UK for assistance.

Luckily, he pulled a few strings with our suppliers and somehow managed to get me a week in a luxury safari lodge. So, while many travellers spent that week worrying about how they might get home, I spent it watching leopard cubs play, hiking in the mountains, sipping G&Ts at sunset and lounging by the pool. Better yet, when I finally boarded my flight back to London, British Airways upgraded me to business class, the icing on the cake of an unforgettable week.

Take the stress out of business travel

Of course, no one can plan for every eventuality. However, put your mind at rest and book your travel through a good travel management company such as FCBT, and you can relax in the knowledge that if things don’t go to plan, you’ll always know where to turn.

Not only do we offer 24/7 Emergency Assistance while you’re away, but our state-of-the-art travel technology allows you to check the status of your flights at any time, even suggesting suitable alternatives for you should your plans change. So wherever you are in the world, you’ll know you’re in safe hands.

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