Business Travel Guru?
We all have the feeling we’re living in a movie from time to time, especially when we’re travelling.
In the Oscar-nominated comedy Up in the Air (Paramount) starring George Clooney, the business traveller’s life becomes a work of art. Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a ‘downsizing specialist’ (someone who gets paid to fire other people) who practically lives on the road. ‘Moving is living’ is his motto, as he racks up around 350,000 miles (over 563,000 km) in the course of a year. Along the way, he offers some hilarious insights into his philosophy of travelling light and getting the most out of the journey.
While few of us are as addicted to business travel as Ryan Bingham, we can all see a little of ourselves in his desire to keep moving in style. Here are a few Clooney-esque takeaways from Up in the Air for you to remember next time you feel a Hollywood moment while shuttling to a connecting flight or checking into a hotel. (Don’t worry: no spoilers!)
‘There’s nothing cheap about loyalty’
Ryan Bingham takes loyalty program memberships to the extreme. The movie shows him flashing high-level membership cards that seem to open any door. The truth is: loyalty programs are a great timesaver, allowing frequent flyers to cut queues and enjoy star treatment like free baggage and lounge access. If your company isn’t already collecting its hard-earned miles for benefits down the road, it should be. Find out about the benefits that your favourite hotel chains, air lines or car rentals offer. According to Travel Perk, especially small to mid-sized businesses can gain from loyalty programs. Just take it from Mr Clooney himself: ‘There’s nothing cheap about loyalty’.
Get in the fast lane
Even gold-star frequent flyers still have to queue for security checks at airports. Even if you’ve got your travel routine nailed down, you can only move through security as fast as the person in front of you. We all know that crucial moment where you have to choose which queue you think might move ever so slightly faster through the body scan. While Ryan Bingham always looks for the queue with the most Asians (he thinks they’re better organised), the real key is to line up behind a fellow business traveller. They are far more likely to know the security rules by heart, so you won’t have to worry about them forgetting to empty a pocket and having to start all over again. With a little practice you can easily spot the first-time flyers: they’re the ones who didn’t realise they couldn’t bring their two-litre bottle of water and king-sized shampoo through security.
‘Being there’ is best
One of the modern business themes so beautifully handled in Up in the Air is going ‘glocal’: using technology like video conferencing to bridge long distances. While cool new software services like Skype for Business, Zoom and Slack are making virtual co-working a lot more lifelike nowadays, Clooney’s character is all about keeping it real: he’s put in enough miles to know there’s no replacement for in-person, on-site presence – particularly during delicate negotiations. He sets out to prove that ‘being there’ is by far the best option and, unsurprisingly, makes a pretty stylish case for business travel in the meantime.
Be open to adventure
We all love a little adventure when we’re on the road, and more and more business travellers see their work trips as an opportunity to explore new experiences. Next time you find yourself in a hotel lounge or an airport terminal, ask yourself, ‘What would George Clooney do?’ It may be the perfect moment for networking, or even a little something more! Up in the Air is probably the only movie in which a traveller’s loyalty program sparks romance. When Clooney’s character spots a shiny hotel loyalty card in the hand of Ms Alex Goran (played by Vera Farmiga, who scored an Oscar nomination for the role), he makes his move by asking her what she likes about the program. An unusual ice-breaker perhaps, but it works. The lesson: a business traveller never knows when adventure is around the corner, so it’s best to be ready with a smile.
So, follow George Clooney’s lead and get ready for your next starring role! For some inspiration to make your next business trip an unforgettable experience, be sure to check out the latest trends we discuss in our e-book ‘Who Runs the New Business Travel World’.