Insights in health & wellness branding


The Joy of Business Travel: True Stories from the Road

21 January 2020   |   Laura Bartmess

Most people who travel regularly for their job can tell you that most of the time it’s about as glamorous as an ingrown toenail. The 5 a.m. taxi rides to the airport, delayed flights, long security lines, not eating breakfast until after lunch, wanting a shower barely an hour after you showered. Bad hair. Wrinkled shirts. A forgotten phone charger. The opportunities for misery are endless.

Of course, there might be the reward of a “nailed it” presentation and subsequently happy client, an unexpectedly delicious dinner, or a surprisingly good night’s sleep. And sometimes you may actually visit a warm locale in January or February (Wahoo!).

But mostly, even a short jaunt to Cleveland brings aching feet, sore shoulders, sustained annoyance with the human race, and often (for me), desperate hunger.

So here it is folks, the stories that keep us going – the gems from colleagues that make that next trip to Somewhere, USA an exciting adventure just waiting to happen.

Who: Laura Bartmess, SVP, Account Director
Where: Orlando, Florida

What happened: While at a client meeting, I awoke early to head to the presentation. To my surprise, when I put on my go-to black business pants they fit in an odd and horrifying way. Tight in all the wrong places, a few inches shorter than they should be – just incredibly unflattering. After spending a few moments puzzling over how my body could’ve changed overnight, I transitioned to cursing the dry cleaner. Finally, I checked the label and realized I had accidentally taken my 12-year-old son’s suit pants instead of my own. To make it to the meeting, my only option was to buy awful polyester pants at the hotel gift shop to get me through the day. I’m not sure they looked any better, but at least they kind of fit!

Who: Erica Rivera, Sr. Director, Engagement Strategy
Where: En route to the Philadelphia Airport

What happened: After being educated on How Malls Work by my taxi driver while replying to emails on my laptop after a long day of client meetings, I was treated to a moment of sheer panic and terror. Out of nowhere, the driver told me he “had an emergency!” and pulled over onto the shoulder, jumped out of the car, and ran up the embankment. In the pitch dark. In the rain. As soon as he ran up the hill, I was sure that he was leaving me to be kidnapped. I was in my murder scene – I knew it. I started pinning my location and was about to drop it to my husband when the driver showed back up exclaiming, “Whew! I really had to pee!” He then told me about every single experience in his life where he couldn’t hold it and peed himself. There were a lot. I did not rate my driver.

Who: Jay Carter, EVP, Director of Business Development
Where: Portland

What Happened: Not paying attention to travel, I got on a plane to Portland, Oregon for a meeting in Portland, Maine.
My hotel? In Portland, Maine.

Who: Josh Shehab, Creative Director
Where: Lyon, France

What Happened: We were in Lyon for market research when news broke of possible travel disruptions due to volcanic activity in Iceland. Soon after, we discovered that not only were all our flights canceled, but because of a rail worker strike, we couldn’t leave town by train, either. We did, however, find a flight leaving the following evening—from Madrid. So we rented a car and drove through the night from France to Spain. I wish I could say it was an ordeal, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. I’ll never forget watching the sun rise on the Spanish countryside as I wound the car along a beautiful mountain road.

Who: Carrie Hixson, Sr. Account Director
Where: Greater Philadelphia

What happened: One of the worst ways to spend 8 hours after a day of client meetings is to lose your rental car keys. Here’s how that went.
Hour 1: Searched everywhere.
Hours 2-3: Spoke with various Avis customer support centers across the globe, all of whom insisted I did not, in fact, have the car that I had.
Hour 4: Headed to Avis to talk to a real person. Learned Avis does not have extra keys (interesting business model).
Hour 5: Began drive back to hotel in new car, with tow truck on its way to take back original car.
Hour 5.2: Almost crashed into car going in reverse on highway. Then almost hit second car going in reverse.
Hour 5.3: Realized something terrible must be happening on the highway ahead, so turned car around and drove the wrong way to nearest exit to avoid getting stuck in whatever was ahead.
Hour 6: Heard news report about a high-speed car chase featuring a fiery crash and a naked driver that ultimately shut down the highway for 4 hours.
Hour 7: Waited in the cold for the tow truck driver, with a last-ditch hope that I had locked my keys in the car.
Hour 8: Tow truck arrived, no keys, original car towed away.
Hour 8.1: Now what flight am I on?

Who: Lynnette Hunter, EVP, Account Director
Where: Dallas, TX

What Happened: Our full team headed to Dallas to meet a patient advocate for a video shoot. We rented a large Suburban to drive the team and production equipment from each of the locations for the shoot. After a pre-production meeting at our hotel on the outskirts of Dallas, we decided to head to dinner. But when we got to the parking lot to hop into the SUV, the entire back seat was missing! The strange part was that the car was locked and there was no indication that it had been tampered with. It literally was as if the seat had just disappeared. Alas, hotel security footage showed the car being broken into and a thief taking the entire back seat. To this day, we still talk about the crazy Texan who stole the third row!

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Head shot of post author Laura Bartmess

About the Author

Laura Bartmess, SVP, Account Director, has more than 26 years of agency experience in healthcare marketing, with a focus on rare disease. She’s well aware that the time spent in airports, hotels, and rental car parking lots while traveling on business brings a fountain of funny, odd, and disturbing stories – some are even worth retelling. Outside of the office, Laura enjoys cooking, traveling, writing and enjoying Chicago with her husband and two young kids.