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R. L. Polk & Co.’s Ask the Industry: What Makes for a Good Location for Business Travel?

Business travel — it’s something most of us do. Las Vegas always seems to pop up on our business travel schedules at least once per year — and for good reason. Las Vegas boasts all the ingredients for a successful business meeting, conference or trade show — lots of meeting space, lots of hotel rooms and, of course, world-class entertainment and dining. This week, we asked a few well-traveled road warriors about what makes for a good business travel spot.

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Business travel — it’s something most of us do. Las Vegas always seems to pop up on our business travel schedules at least once per year — and for good reason. Las Vegas boasts all the ingredients for a successful business meeting, conference or trade show: lots of meeting space, hotel rooms and, of course, world-class entertainment and dining.

While most aftermarketNews readers will be in Las Vegas next month for the annual Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week events, other popular North American business travel locations seem to include the usual suspects: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston and Orlando. These all have the elements of a good business trip location.

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As for the rest of the world, according to CNN/Money, the best global locations for business travel include some familiar locations, but some surprises as well:

  1. Bangalore, India
  2. Barcelona, Spain
  3. Helsinki, Finland
  4. Hong Kong
  5. London
  6. Seoul , South Korea
  7. Shanghai, China
  8. Singapore
  9. Stockholm, Sweden
  10. Tallin, Estonia

This week, we asked a few well-traveled road warriors about what makes for a good business travel spot. Here’s what they said:

“ I actually think Vegas is the best venue for most industry meetings,” said ASE’s Tony Molla. “It’s easy to get to, relatively inexpensive and provides tons of meeting space. However, other venues I think work very well include Orlando, which is also inexpensive to get to and offers the opportunity for tacking on a family trip. Other favorites include Chicago and San Diego. Phoenix is also good place for an industry visit, unless it’s during the summer. But perhaps my favorite places are non-traditional, such as Albuquerque, Tuscon, Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle and Kansas City, just to name a few. I also like any Northeast location like Boston, although these tend to be the most expensive in terms of both travel and hotel costs.

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As someone who does this frequently, the most important criteria are:

1. Near a major airport with enough service to permit low air-fare costs;

2. Meeting place (hotel, etc.) convenient to the airport, with complementary shuttle service to and from the facility;

3. The lowest hotel costs possible consistent with the meeting venue;

4. Area attractions to provide diversion during down time;

5. Lots of restaurant options for those networking dinners that are part and parcel of many industry functions;

6. Avoiding weekends if possible; and

7. Planning meeting locations with seasonal weather in mind. I love Denver and Chicago, but not in the winter.”

“One of the first things I think of are the availability of flights and costs,” said AAIA Vice President of Meetings Michael Barrett. “The good options are Chicago and other centrally located cities. If it’s strictly for business, then you could have a meeting in an airport. It’s all about ease of travel for attendees. As for cities, I like Chicago or ‘center cities’ like Dallas. But, if you want a more competitive price, then you have to look at second-tier cities.”

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Barrett says that other aspects such as weather and seasonality factor heavily into travel decisions as well. Chicago, for example, has more flight cancellations in the summer than it does in the winter.

To Tom Aliotti from Activant, the location isn’t really what’s important.

“We value any opportunity to sit down with our aftermarket customers to discuss the challenges they are facing and to explore ways to achieve tangible, positive results for their businesses. Where these meetings take place isn’t particularly important; what’s critical is that we maintain a consistent, timely, open dialogue with everyone involved, so that we can help the aftermarket supply chain address ever-changing market demands. Many of our customers enjoy the Las Vegas environment, and others also travel to industry functions in other regions, including Chicago. We’ll be wherever our current and prospective customers want us to be in order to ensure a frank, honest discussion of the challenges and opportunities they face.”

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* Editor’s Note: To participate in our next Ask the Industry discussion, see “Call for Comments” in today’s edition of aftermarketNews.

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